The former first lady spoke about the amusing incident on Sunday in London while on the European book tour for her memoir, “Becoming.”
“Yikes! Sorry, guys,” she joked during her talk, adding that for subsequent events as first lady, she learned to hold her hands together so that she wouldn’t make the same “human” mistake again.
“I don’t know that I could have done anything differently because it was a natural human reaction,” she said on Sunday.
Writing about the impromptu hug in her memoir, Obama noted that the queen had seemed fine with the moment.
“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 wrote.
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.”
At the time, an anonymous spokesperson for Buckingham Palace insisted that the moment was perfectly fine with Her Majesty and not a breach of royal protocol.
“It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection,” the spokesperson said at the time. “We don’t issue instructions on not touching the queen.”
LeBron James was similarly accused of breaching royal protocol when he met with Prince William and Kate Middleton at a basketball game in New York City in 2014, as part of the royal couple’s visit to the U.S.
“King James” put his arm around the Duchess of Cambridge in one of the photos, but once again the palace said there was no harm, no foul.
“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge very much enjoyed their time in the US, including attending the NBA game and meeting LeBron,” Laura King, senior communications officer for Buckingham Palace, told the Northeast Ohio Media Group in 2014.
“When members of the Royal Family meet people they want them to feel as comfortable as possible,” King added. “There is no such thing as Royal protocol.”
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