Despite the public backlash she received for her action, Michelle Obama has no regrets about her decision to put an arm around Queen Elizabeth, according to a report from People.
With the release of her memoir Becoming on November 13, the former first lady opens up about her original meeting with the monarch not long after husband Barack’s inauguration in 2009, when headlines were dominated by the release of images with the two women having their arms around each other.
Obama revealed that at the time she was not aware of the faux pas she had made, writing, “I couldn’t have known it in the moment, but I was committing what would be deemed an epic faux pas. I’d touched the Queen of England, which I’d soon learn was apparently not done.”
Obama spoke about her concern that her minor action had overshadowed the nature of her and her husband’s visit, but stands by her feeling that she did not insult the queen in any way by her gesture.
Obama wrote in her defense, “If I hadn’t done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing 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.”
— People (@people) November 12, 2018
Obama also cleared up what exactly it was that inspired the friendly gesture between the pair, which was the uncomfortable shoes that they both were wearing.
Obama detailed the moment when she wrote, “At some point toward the end of the party, I turned my head to find that Queen Elizabeth had surfaced at my elbow, the two of us suddenly alone together in the otherwise crowded room. She was wearing a pair of pristine white gloves and appeared just as fresh as she’d been hours earlier when we first met. She smiled up at me.”
Obama said that Elizabeth commented on the height difference between the two, which the first lady jokingly brushed aside by giving the credit to the Jimmy Choo shoes she was wearing.
Obama wrote, “‘These shoes are unpleasant, are they not?’ [the Queen] said. She gestured with some frustration at her own black pumps. I confessed then to the Queen that my feet were hurting. She confessed that hers hurt, too. We looked at each other then with identical expressions, like, ‘When is all this standing around with world leaders going to finally wrap up? And with this, she busted out with a fully charming laugh.”
The Obamas visited the royal family several more times during Barack’s presidency and even more recently the queen gave a subtle sign of their close relationship, donning the American State Visit Brooch, a gift from the Obamas during their visit in 2011, during a public appearance back in July.