A touching encounter

April 02, 2009 by barbara

photo via HuffingtonPost

barbara writes

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.

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Anonymous (not verified) | April 14, 2009 - 8:37am

Okay, you are British and (as Casey Stengle used to say about washed up baseball players still active in the major leagues) "your future is behind you".. Better than that, you are Royals placed on an absurd pedestal and expected to be the mascots of a country fading into irrelevence. What else do your subjects have to do but make a fuss over irrelevencies?

My suspicion is that Mrs Obama looked on Queenie like she would an aging granny and rather than go through the absurdity of a curtsie, she reached out with a gesture of kindly affection befitting the humanity of one person seeking to connect with the humanity of another.

British frumpdom needs to take a chill pill and go read some of the endless vulgar tabloids published by Rupert Murdoch and readily available all over London.