Michelle Obama reveals she'd only hug King Charles on one condition after breaking royal protocol with Queen

The former First Lady of the United States made headlines in 2009 after she hugged Queen Elizabeth II in an 'epic faux pas'

Queen, Charles
(Image credit: Getty)

Michelle Obama has revealed that she wouldn't initiate a hug with King Charles III, after 'committing an epic faux pas' by touching the Queen in 2009. 

  • Michelle Obama has revealed she wouldn't initiate a hug with King Charles III after 'committing' an 'epic faux pas' with the Queen in 2009. 
  • The former FLOTUS 'broke' royal protocol during her first meeting with Her Majesty at a G20 reception in Buckingham Palace. 
  • In other royal news, 

Michelle Obama has revealed that she wouldn't initiate a hug with King Charles III, after making headlines for breaking royal protocol with the Queen over a decade ago. 

The former First Lady of the United States put her arm around Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace in 2009, unaware that the gesture was considered to be an 'epic faux pas' in royal circles.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast this week to promote her new book, The Light We Carry, Obama was asked by presenter Naga Munchetty if she would do the same with King Charles III. 

"I would stand down until I was touched," the US attorney replied. "Or hugged." 

In her 2018 memoir, Becoming, Obama shared the backstory behind the infamous moment. The former US First Lady first met the Queen at Buckingham Palace during a G20 reception, just a few months after President Obama's inauguration ceremony in January 2009. A video showing Ms. Obama gently putting her arm around the monarch's shoulder during the exchange quickly went viral. 

According to the 58-year-old, she had actually been bonding with the Queen over their shared foot pain. 


(Image credit: Getty)

"The Queen glanced down at the pair of black Jimmy Choos I was wearing. She shook her head. ‘These shoes are unpleasant, are they not?’ she 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." (The Queen's secret trick to walk at engagements clearly hadn't worked too well on this particular occasion!) 

It was at this moment that Obama was overcome by the "instinct" to touch the shoulder of Her Majesty, who had "busted out with fully charming laugh" in acknowledgment of their mutual wardrobe woes. 

"If I hadn’t done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing," the mother-of-two added. "I daresay the Queen was OK with it too, because when I touched her, she pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back." 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.