Michelle Obama Touches Queen Elizabeth

Why do we still have royalty around?

By + More

By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Did you hear about the scandalous international incident? No, not our president giving the Queen of England another iPod. I'm talking about the first lady placing her arm around the royal personage of her most royal highness, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom. This breach of royal protocol—one does not put one's arm around a monarch—raises this important question: Why does royalty of any sort still wander the earth?

Seriously. Democracy has flourished around the globe in the last couple of decades, but we still worry about ... the Queen, hereditary monarch of England. (And that's not even to mention the royal princes running Saudi Arabia who have invested in them the unfortunate combination of silly tradition and actual power.)

To her credit, Her Most Britannic Majesty behaved like a human being rather than an anachronism. From the Mail Online's aptly named Rebecca English:

America's First Lady Michelle Obama broke royal protocol during a reception at Buckingham Palace when she placed her arm around the Queen. 

But rather than take offence, Her Majesty took the unusual step of returning the gesture by putting her arm round Mrs Obama's waist—almost as if to confirm the special relationship the politicians are so keen to play up.

Protocol/style note to Ms. English: "first lady" is not an official title, so it does not get capitalized when writing about first lady Michelle Obama.

We can all, I suppose, be thankful that Mrs. Obama did not behave as another Chicagoan, the late Mayor Bill Thompson, once did, threatening that if the then-sitting British monarch entered the Windy City, he would "bust King George on the snoot."

  • Read more by Robert Schlesinger.
  • Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
  • Read more about Elizabeth II.