The Queen

Michelle Obama: “Yikes! Sorry guys!” on breaking ‘protocol’ meeting The Queen

A beloved figure by many on both sides of the Atlantic, former US First Lady Michelle Obama recently commented on the time she ‘broke protocol’ when she first met The Queen in 2009 – her first year as First Lady.

When she and President Obama travelled to Buckingham Palace a few months after the President was inaugurated, Michelle greeted The Queen and put her arm around her for a photo. Touching The Queen is a supposed no-no, and the ‘protocol breach’ was spread across the news.

While in the UK on Sunday for her book tour for her autobiography Becoming, Mrs Obama joked, “Yikes! Sorry, guys!”

Embed from Getty Images

She admitted that it was a natural reaction (and how many Americans take photos). The former First Lady obviously meant no harm or insult, “I don’t know that I could have done anything differently because it was a natural human reaction.”

Mrs Obama said she learned to keep her hands together in other such meetings so as not to make the same ‘human’ mistake.

She did touch on the subject in her memoir remarking, “I then did what’s instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder.”

Her Majesty did not appear to mind the incident with Michelle noting, “I daresay that The Queen was okay with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back.”

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama receive Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, prior to a dinner in the Queen’s honour at Winfield House in London, England, May 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Back in 2009, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson revealed that The Queen was not bothered and there were no rules on touching when meeting Her Majesty.

“It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection. We don’t issue instructions on not touching The Queen,” they said.

President and First Lady Obama at Kensington Palace in London on April 22, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President and Mrs Obama were later hosted by Her Majesty on a state visit in 2011. They have a close relationship with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry – notably visiting them at Kensington Palace in 2016. Prince Harry and Mrs Obama have become good friends and have worked together on the Invictus Games.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.