Barack Obama dismisses that royal-protocol controversy

The Editors
·2-min read
Photo credit: Anwar Hussein - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anwar Hussein - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Back in 2009, headlines pointed to a royal-protocol controversy when the then first lady Michelle Obama was pictured putting her arm around the Queen. However, in the latest extract from the former president's new memoir, 'A Promised Land', Barack Obama dismisses claims that the Queen minded the gesture.

"She was photographed with her hand resting on Her Majesty's shoulder – an apparent breach of royalty-commoner protocol," Barack said of Michelle. "Although the Queen didn't seem to mind, slipping her arm around Michelle in return."

Barack's autobiography is not the first to address the supposed controversial moment. In Michelle's best-selling memoir 'Becoming', she spoke about why she put her arm around the Queen and what happened afterwards.

"The Queen glanced down at the pair of black Jimmy Choos I was wearing. She shook her head. 'These shoes are unpleasant, are they not?' she said. She gestured with some frustration at her own black pumps. I confessed then to the Queen that my feet were hurting. She confessed that hers hurt, too."

"We looked at each other then with identical expressions, like, when is all this standing around with world leaders going to finally wrap up? And with this, she busted out with a fully charming laugh.

Photo credit: Anwar Hussein - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anwar Hussein - Getty Images

"I then did what's instinctive to me any time I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder. I couldn't have known it in the moment, but I was committing what would be deemed an epic faux pas.

"If I hadn't done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing. I daresay the Queen was OK with it too, because when I touched her, she pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back."

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

In Barack's book, which is out now, the former president goes on to joke about how prior to their visit, he had joked with his wife about what she should wear for the occasion.

After the supposed controversy, he later said to his wife: "You should have taken my suggestion and worn one of those little hats. And a little matching handbag!"

Obama's 'A Promised Land' is available to order or for digital download today.

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