Barack and Michelle Obama Blunder through Royal Reception
On May 26, 2011 At 6:03 am
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According to the ABC News, things got rather awkward while Barack Obama proposed a toast to the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night. When Barack Obama raised his glass and said, "To her majesty the Queen," the orchestra took that as a cue to being playing the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. While other guests stood silently and solemnly as the anthem played, Obama who hadn't finished saying what he thought he should say at such an occasion continued speaking all through the rendition.
Obama later joked to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that he thought that the orchestra was providing befitting musical soundtrack accompaniment to his speech, like in Hollywood movies! "It was like out of the movies, when the sound effect kind of comes in," Obama said to Nick Clegg and Clegg agreed that the ending of the British Anthem added "crescendo" to his grand words.
And a grand speech it was that the President gave, befitting of the swelling crescendo of the British National Anthem. Obama said, while the music played, "…to the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples and for the words of Shakespeare to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.." at that point he turned to address the Queen as the music rose, saying, "To the Queen."
The Queen glanced at Obama with a nervous smile on her face and then turned away and looked straight till the music finished. It was at that point, apparently, that Obama realized that he'd gaffed. He put his glass down and he too stared quietly ahead. Obama's toast gaffe came after he had written the wrong date in the Westminster guest book the day before.
Michelle Obama complemented her husband's with gaffes of her own. When the Obamas met earlier in day with the Queen she was without a hat–in royal etiquette, wearing a hat when you appear before the Queen is a gesture of respect. The British press also criticized Michelle Obama for violating one of the strictest rules of royal etiquette by placing her arm around the Queen lightly while they chatted–etiquette requires that you keep your hands to yourself while you are with the Queen and give a limp handshake only when she offers her hand. A similar incident is said to have occurred in 2000 when the Australian Prime Minister John Howard touched the Queen while guiding her through a crowd.
American Presidents and their families have the reputation of turning into gaffe machines at meetings with the Queen. While his father was President in 1991, George Bush, at a meeting with the Queen, introduced himself to the Queen wittily as the "black sheep in the family" and inquired from her Royal Majesty who the black sheep in her own family was. But George Bush realized his error immediately and winked at the Queen.
The American press has read meanings into the fact that the Obamas are not on the list of guests at the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. But royal officials have explained that non-inclusion of the Obamas in the list should not be mistaken for snub. According to royal aides, the wedding is not a state occasion as William is only second in line to the throne. To support their claim they point to the fact that no world leaders are on the list of guests only family and friends.