Sometimes, people can take a moment they witness totally out of context and make something out of nothing.
That’s what Angela Kelly, dressmaker and confidante to Queen Elizabeth, alleges was the case during a special visit to Buckingham Palace. She’s sharing the details from a perceived controversial moment between the Queen and Michelle Obama in a new book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser, and the Wardrobe.
You may recall the moment in 2009 when then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama conducted a state visit at Buckingham Palace.
Michelle made headlines for, gasp, touching the Queen. She lightly put her arm around the monarch while the two had a chat. While people blasted the first lady for breaking tradition and royal protocol, Angela revealed that no such thing existed in that situation. Not only that, but the Queen had no problem with the moment of camaraderie between herself and Michelle.
If you’re looking for salacious stories, however, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The book will be filled with “charming anecdotes” about the Queen and her close friend. It even has the Queen’s blessing to be published.
Angela has been dressing the Queen since 1993. Three years after being hired by the royal household, Angela was promoted to senior dresser. In 2002, she was promoted to personal assistant and senior dresser, according to Harper’s Bazaar UK.
Hello! recently shared an excerpt from the upcoming book, out October 29. The excerpt discusses a moment that the public believed to be quite controversial. It was the 2009 state visit to Buckingham Palace by Barack and Michelle Obama.
“There are certain things that are understood to be accepted protocol when it comes to interacting with Her Majesty,” Angela writes. “Supposedly, you should never put your arm around the Queen, for example, but when human instincts kick in, sometimes this is absolutely the appropriate thing to do.”
She believes it is because of the Queen’s welcoming nature. “The Queen has the ability to make everyone feel so relaxed that sometimes it feels instinctive to be tactile with her, just as Michelle Obama demonstrated during the State Visit with her husband, President Obama, in 2009,” Angela wrote.
“Much has been made about the meeting between Michelle and Her Majesty, when an instant and mutual warmth was shared between these two remarkable women, and protocol was seemingly ‘abandoned’ as they stood closely with their arms around each other’s backs,” Angela recalled.
“In reality, it was a natural instinct for the Queen to show affection and respect for another great woman, and really there is no protocol that must be adhered to,” she continued. “When fondness is felt or the host of a State Visit goes to guide Her Majesty up some steps, it truly is about human kindness, and this is something the Queen will always welcome warmly.”
“Anyone who is close to Her Majesty is not a threat and is certainly trusted,” Angela explained. Certainly, the Queen didn’t look uncomfortable as the events were unfolding. She looked relaxed and like she was enjoying herself.
Michelle also wrote about the moment in her 2018 memoir, Becoming. She recalled how greatly she was criticized for what people believed to be a faux pas, a moment in which she didn’t believe she was doing anything wrong.
“If I hadn’t done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing,” Michelle wrote. “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.”
She also revealed the subject that they bonded over. “We looked at each other then with identical expressions, like, ‘When is all this standing around with world leaders going to finally wrap up?’ And with this, she busted out with a fully charming laugh,” she recalled.
“Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I’d flown to London on the presidential jet; we were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes,” she remembered fondly. “I then did what’s instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly.”
Looks like the media made much ado about nothing in the case of the exchange. Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Obama are two powerful women who both care deeply about many of the same causes. Expecting there to be bad blood between them is a reach and only plays into the idea that women should always feel like they’re contending with one another rather than fighting the same battle.