The rules are set in stone and so the eagerly watching British media sputtered when the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, briefly put her hand on the back of the Queen Elizabeth II as the two chatted at a reception. Etiquette is quite stern about this: "Whatever you do, don't touch the Queen!!!" In 2007, John Howard, then prime minister of Australia, got plenty of criticism for apparently putting his arm around the Queen to direct her through a crowd. He denied actually touching her but photographs did make it look like his arm came quite close. (Another former Australian prime minister actually did put his hand on the Queen in a similar circumstance and was branded "the Lizard of Oz.") Of course, there are corollaries to this. One must certainly touch the Queen if the monarch offers her hand (though you should return this not with a firm handshake, but just a touch).What is wrong with this woman? It's enough that because of the Vera Baker scandal (that the mainstream press refuses to talk about, much less mention) Obama is now forced to drag wifey along to all his trips overseas, but now she's gotta make a fool out of him and our great nation by ignoring standard protocol and touching Queen Elizabeth when she's not supposed to? Unbelievable. Who does Michelle Obama think she is? And shouldn't the "First Mom" be home anyway, yunno making sure the kids stay outta trouble? Last thing Barry needs is wifey with her watchful eyes and her leash hanging around everywhere he goes.
On Wednesday, Michelle Obama put her hand on the Queen only after the Queen had placed her own hand on the First Lady's back as part of their conversation. So there is room for theological argument as to whether the American reciprocity of touch is allowable given the social dynamics of the situation. (Less explicable is the previous President, George W. Bush, winking at the Queen.) Still, the sight of anyone apparently touching the Queen in anything more than a limp handshake is enough to send the British (or traditionalists in the old Commonwealth) twittering.