photo via HuffingtonPost
Well, as you all must know by now, Michelle Obama is at the heart of a media storm. That warm, friendly, hugging woman has really gone and done it this time, by touching Queen Elizabeth. I am so not kidding. There are photos and media clips (see above and here and here) to confirm the touch.
The way the story goes, shortly after meeting for the first time, the Queen placed her hand on the small of Michelle Obama’s back. Michelle Obama reciprocated, wrapping her long, covered arm around the queen’s shoulders. By various estimates, the exchange of touchings played out over less than 10 seconds.
Some folks are in high dudgeon about this appalling breach of protocol on Michelle’s part. Others are simply gobsmacked that the Queen, who never touches anyone (which might explain a great deal about Prince Charles), made what seemed to be a spontaneous gesture of affection. Spontaneity in and of itself is simply not the done thing amongst the royals, with the possible exception of Prince Harry, whose spontaneity trends toward the randy. Read on.
This is not a small issue, this touching thing. And as I carefully reviewed the photos, I noticed (as likely you will as well) that the small of Michelle Obama’s back apparently extends down a fair distance. Yes. You read it here first. There is photographic evidence that Queen Elizabeth was patting the First Lady’s tush. If ever there was a breach of protocol, surely that was it.
Nevertheless, I am prepared to cut the Queen some slack, which likely will be a great relief to her. Here’s why.
Elizabeth and Phillip are little people. Miniatures, almost. Their petite size stands in great contrast to the tall, strong, athletic builds of the Obamas. So I believe it is possible that, with her gaze focused forward and feeling blind, the tiny queen reached out for whatever she could grab, which happened to be Michelle Obama’s butt. And that’s okay. I think that’s what Michelle was signaling to her majesty when she reciprocated, going high to avoid making a similar gaffe.
Royals do not touch. Anyone. Ever. (The matter of royal births is a great conundrum. I choose not to go there.) Even at home in Buckingham Palace, it appears that the Queen wears gloves and carries her purse at all times. I expect that she has gloves, hats and purses that match her jammies. And that’s okay, too. It’s about tradition, you see.
I would love to believe that Elizabeth and Phillip had a good chuckle over their postprandial brandies last night about all the fuss. I rather doubt that happened, however. I do not see much evidence of humor amongst the royals.
And what about Michelle and Barack Obama, on the heels of this international incident? I imagine there was a great deal of eye-rolling during the kicking off of shoes. And further, I envision Barack promising Michelle, “I’ve got your back, Babe.” Fist bump.