Michelle Obama opens up about how she and the Queen bonded before that famous hug

By Meaghan Wray

It’s generally understood that hugging the Queenduring a formal meeting is a big no-no. That’s why a moment back in 2009, when Michelle Obamagave Her Majesty a side hug, went viral, jokingly deemed “hug gate.” But in the former First Lady’s upcoming autobiography Becoming, she reveals the true meaning behind the sweet gesture – and it’s relatable to most women!

When Michelle walked towards the Queen, the monarch commented, “You’re so tall,” to which the style icon responded, “Well, the shoes give me a couple of inches.” This seemingly benign exchange turned into what some royal watchers deemed a faux-pas. The 93-year-old royal said, “Those shoes are unpleasant, are they not?” and they both came to an agreement that their feet hurt in their shoes. In her book, Michelle writes: “We were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes.” In that moment of connection, Barack Obama’s wife put her arm around Her Majesty’s shoulders – a clear sign that despite their very different lives, they could still relate to each other as women.

Michelle and Barack Obama first met the Queen in 2009. Photo: © Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

What became a hugely viral moment was actually not so scandalous after all, it seems, as the 54-year-old went on to describe a very friendly relationship with the Queen! Also in her book, the activist goes on to describe another time she “broke protocol” during her and Barack’s trip to the United Kingdom in 2012: “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.”

The political couple went for another visit in 2012. Photo: © GEOFF PUGH/AFP/Getty Images

What happened next was a shock to Michelle as she describes a spur-of-the-moment decision made by Her Majesty that threw her off a little! She writes: "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.'"

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