Michelle Obama has opened up about the moment she first met the Queen, during a visit to the UK in 2009 – and the 'hug gate' story that had everyone suggesting she had made a faux-pas in the presence of Her Majesty. In her upcoming autobiography Becoming, she reveals that she had actually put her arm around the Queen because they had both agreed that their high heels were too uncomfortable! According to the book, the Queen looked up at Michelle and said, "You're so tall," to which the then-First Lady replied: "Well, the shoes give me a couple of inches."
The moment Michelle put her arm around the Queen
The Queen apparently then gestured to Michelle's heels and said: "Those shoes are unpleasant, are they not?" – with both agreeing that their feet hurt in their footwear choices. Michelle writes: "We were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes." That was the moment she put her arm affectionately across the monarch's shoulder, causing many to question whether she had broken protocol.
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By the sounds of it, she and the Queen went on to enjoy a very friendly relationship, since she also reveals in the book that Her Majesty broke another supposed 'royal rule' during another presidential visit. In an extract shared on Twitter, she says of a trip to the UK in 2016: "As was always the case, we were briefed on the protocol ahead of time. We'd greet the royals formally before getting into their vehicle to make a short drive. I'd sit in the front next to ninety-four-year-old Prince Philip, who would drive, and Barack would sit next to the Queen in the backseat."
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Riding in the back with Her Majesty!
She continues: "After we'd touched down in a field on the palace grounds and said our hellos, however, the Queen abruptly threw a wrench into everything by gesturing me to join her in the backseat of the Range Rover. I froze, trying to remember if anyone had prepped me for this scenario, whether it was more polite to go along with it or insist that Barack take his proper seat by her side. The Queen immediately picked up on my hesitation. And was having none of it. 'Did they give you some rule about this?' she said, dismissing all the fuss with a wave of her hand. 'That's rubbish. Sit wherever you want.'"