Protocol

Michelle Meets the Queen

The British newspapers are abuzz with news of Michelle Obama’s draping her arm around the back of Queen Elizabeth, which, according to the opaque protocols of royal conduct, is a bit untoward. “Protocol seems to be dispensed with when the Obamas come to town,” the Times of London wrote. (When a former Australian prime minister put his arm around the Queen, he was branded the “Lizard of Oz.”) But as the Daily Mail notes, “rather than take offence, Her Majesty took the unusual step of returning the gesture by putting her arm round Mrs. Obama's waist.” The two women were apparently dishighcussing their height difference as they shuffled out of a reception at Buckingham Palace at the time. “No-one—including the ladies-in-waiting standing nearby—could believe their eyes,” the Daily Mail writes. “In 57 years, the Queen has never been seen to make that kind of gesture and it is certainly against all protocol to touch her.” The Queen also apparently had no hard feelings over President Obama’s gift to Her Majesty: an iPod.