.
April 1st, 2009
07:25 PM ET

The President meets The Queen

Editor's note: Jacqueline Whitmore is founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach and author of Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work.

Jacqueline Whitmore | Bio
Protocol expert and author

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama looked both nervous and excited as they greeted Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip today at Buckingham Palace.

As the couple entered the room, the queen eagerly extended her right hand. Both the President and Mrs. Obama gave the royal couple the “glove” or the two-handed handshake, a handshake generally reserved for people you know very well. However, this most likely was their way of showing respect to Her Royal Highness.

After exchanging a few pleasantries, the royal photographer asked the foursome to strike a pose. It was no surprise that President and Mrs. Obama towered over the diminutive, 5’4” queen. As both couples stood side by side, everyone was careful not to touch each other, even by accident.

This greeting could have been uncomfortable for President Obama as he is known for giving warm and fuzzy pats on the back when he meets a person. Dressed in a conservative black and white dress, Mrs. Obama played it safe and maintained the girlish “fig leaf” position with her hands crossed in front of her body, a position that it not commonly used by confident women. This could also have been a case of nerves.

After all, who wouldn’t be nervous meeting the queen?

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Gilbert Martinez

    Wonderful stories coming out of London about our President and his visit with the Queen. It is really nice to see and hear something positively civil during these very tough times.

    April 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  2. Pernell

    I think anyone would be nervous meeting the Queen just like some of us would be nervous meeting the Obamas. But please can we stop talking about what Michelle was wearing?! Who cares? Why can't we support our first lady of our country and stop acting like we are citizens of England or something. We the people voted for the Obamas and it wasn't because of their outfits.

    April 2, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  3. Allen, SD

    The Queen of England forgot she was meeting King Obama and Queen Michelle. Of course those are temporary titles. Obama wants to be dictator for life.

    April 2, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  4. Kevin Dockery

    It has to be awkward for the Queen to meet the Obamas.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  5. Kevin

    The first lady looks frumpy because she is not wearing clothes that fit. She's a very tall lady and it is hard to find clothes for taller ladies. mAybe if she had some tea with the Queen it would make her relax.

    April 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  6. Kristina

    I was privileged enough to meet Her Majesty growing up as a military brat in England. It was possible for children to present flowers to the Queen (and the Queen Mum, at the time) after the royal family concluded their Sunday church service. Needless to say I found the wait boring, and spent so much time fussing over my flowers that I tore the protective paper clean open.

    Her Majesty didn't mind at all, commenting "It even has a little flap!" Mrs. Obama need not worry about her 'hug', I find that the Queen has a wonderful sense of humor.

    April 1, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  7. Chris Sosa - Boston, MA

    Thanks for the analysis! I find it fascinating watching the way individuals interact with each other. I remember back when Obama was campaigning and much was said about his body language as opposed to the other candidates when responding to questions or engaging others in conversation.

    As for Michelle's stance, I know I'd be more than a bit nervous meeting the Queen. 😉

    April 1, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  8. Patricia Gardiner

    Michelle Obama has looke darn right frumpy so far. That too small cardigan pulled across by a couold of buttons was totally out of place. what is wrong with her handlers? She should be wearing elegant formal day wear and that dowdy black – ugh – outfit meeting the Queen – even the Queen was spring like in her pink frock. I have read some fo the comments in the UK newspapwers and they said she (Michelle) looks like she had bougth her clothes at the Goodwill and also needs to be told she walk sas if she has a bowling ball between her knees. Once she meets Carla she will get a wake up call – hopefully. First Lady Bush always looked the part and appropriate. Gone are the good old days.....

    April 1, 2009 at 7:54 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    I didn't realize there was a symbolic meaning to how you shake hands – with 2 hands or 1 hand. Nor did I know that posing with your hands clasped in front of you was a sign of a lack of confidence or nervousness. Its amazing what you learn on this blog.

    I'm glad the meeting with the Queen went so well and I hope Obama doesn't have a slip-up like Bush did in his infamous dinner comment about the Queen's last visit to the US in 1776....the Queen was most gracious on that one! Lets hope Obama's silver tongue does not desert him.

    April 1, 2009 at 7:33 pm |