The former first lady has finally revealed in her memoir Becoming, released Tuesday, that the pair’s impromptu hug at a G-20 reception at Buckingham Palace came after they’d moaned to each other about having sore feet from their shoes.
“Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I’d flown to London on the presidential jet: we were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes,” wrote Obama. “I then did what’s instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder.”
Obama said she feared some people’s outraged claims that she’d breached royal protocol would distract from then-President Barack Obama’s “efforts abroad.”
“But I tried not to let the criticism rattle me. If I hadn’t done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing,” she added. “I daresay that the Queen was okay with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back.”
As it was, a palace spokesman at the time rejected the suggestion that Obama had committed a royal faux pas. “It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection,” the spokesman said of the heartwarming moment. “We don’t issue instructions on not touching the queen.”