Sunday 18 August 2019

Michelle Obama praises Queen and addresses protocol breach

The former US first lady sparked controversy when she touched the Queen on the back.

Michelle Obama recalled her meetings with the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Michelle Obama recalled her meetings with the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Catherine Wylie, Press Association

Michelle Obama has recalled the joy she felt at seeing the Queen wearing a pin she gave her as a gift.

The former US first lady spoke of her fondness for the Queen and praised her for her graciousness and wit.

Mrs Obama sparked controversy when she touched the Queen on the back and has previously said that the Monarch branded royal protocol “rubbish” during a visit to Windsor Castle.

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Mrs Obama heaped praise upon the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mrs Obama was asked about the Queen on the London stop of her Becoming book tour on Sunday night, and she said: “She’s wonderfully warm. And funny. And she’s elegant and kind and considerate in really interesting ways.

“I remember, I don’t know if it was the first visit or the second visit, we gave her this little pin. You know, what do you give her majesty the Queen?

“It’s like, ok, we gave her a little pin and I remember the evening of the dinner after we exchanged gifts, we were standing in line and she had on a beautiful – I’m sure it was covered in diamonds and a crown, and you sort of look and go ‘all of that is real’ you know.

“You go ‘that’s nice’ but it’s all real. And in the gloriousness of that outfit that she had on she put on the little bitty pin we gave her.

“And I did the same thing, I was like ‘You wore the pin’, and she just said ‘mmh hmm yes’.

“That was my experience. That has been my experience. That kind of warmth and graciousness, and intelligence and wit.

“I like her.”

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Michelle Obama said the Queen was warm, kind and funny (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mrs Obama was asked if she would do anything differently on meeting the Queen again in light of accusations that she broke protocol, and she said: “What is true among world leaders is that there are people who handle protocol, and usually the people they’re representing don’t want all that protocol.

“So you wonder well who are you doing this for because they don’t want it, we don’t want it.

“But it’s just the way things are. So I don’t know that I could have done anything differently because it was a natural human reaction.

“I learned over the course of my time on the international stage to see that either hold my hands together tightly or behind my back to sort of kind of just make sure I was thinking before I reacted naturally.

“But in that moment, no. That was absolutely the right thing to do, because it was the human thing to do.”

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