Oh my! The some members of media are in a tizzy… Michelle Obama touched the Queen!
Howard Chua-Eoan reports in Time:
The rules are set in stone, and so the eagerly watching British media sputtered when the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, briefly put her hand on the back of Queen Elizabeth II as the two chatted at a reception. Etiquette is quite stern about this (“Whatever you do, don’t touch the Queen!”).
Gracious… Goodness… What was she thinking? Was Michelle Obama breaking protocol or simply being reciprocal to the Queen’s touch:
On Wednesday, Michelle Obama put her hand on the Queen only after the Queen had placed her own hand on the First Lady’s back as part of their conversation. So there is room for theological argument as to whether the American reciprocity of touch was allowable given the social dynamics of the situation.
Clearly as Jennifer Quinn notes in AP News, Michelle Obama has managed to do “what few others have managed — getting Queen Elizabeth II to break protocol.” It’s really that simple…
Mrs. Obama clearly made an impression with the 82-year-old monarch — so much that the smiling queen strayed from protocol and put her arm around the first lady in a rare public show of affection.
It was the first time Mrs. Obama — who is nearly a foot taller — had met the queen. The first lady also embraced her.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman who asked not to be identified because of palace policy said he could not remember the last time that the queen had displayed such public affection with a first lady or dignitary.
“It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection,” he said. “We don’t issue instructions on not touching the queen.”
Given the historic nature of the Obama’s first trip abroad, we would hope that the media had better things to chatter about than gifts and touches.
UPDATE: More on the Hug.