All eyes will be on President Trump and First Lady Melania when they arrive in the UK for their state visit next week. The couple will be given a ceremonial welcome in the Buckingham Palace gardens by the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla on Monday morning. And while fans are used to seeing members of the royal family bow and curtsy to Her Majesty, there's a very good reason the President and First Lady may choose not to.
Last summer during their official visit, the President and his wife greeted the Queen with a handshake. According to the royal family's official website, there are, in fact, "no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting the Queen or a member of the royal family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms". The guideline notes: "For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way."
The Trumps greeted the Queen with a handshake
This explains why President Trump and Melania chose to greet the Queen with a handshake last year, and why they could do the same again next week. Looking back on former President Barack and Michelle Obama's state visit in 2011, neither he nor his wife bowed or curtsied to the Queen – instead, both opted for a handshake.
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Of course, in 2009, during a Buckingham Palace reception before the G20 summit, Michelle sparked headlines by embracing the British royal, putting her arm around her as they chatted. She reportedly did curtsy when she first met Her Majesty in her private apartments earlier that day, however.
They were on an official visit to the UK last year
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In July 2017, when King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain met the Queen and Prince Philip during their state visit, Letizia also opted for a handshake – as the monarch outstretched her hand to greet her as she stepped out of the car. In fact, this time it was Felipe who caused a stir, choosing to kiss the Queen on the cheek, then on the hand.
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