London Michelle Obama’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth II began with a handshake and ended in a hug.
The first lady arrived Wednesday with President Barack Obama. After separate meetings on the eve of the G-20 summit, the couple attended an evening reception for world leaders hosted by the queen.
Mrs. Obama clearly made an impression with the 82-year-old monarch — so much that the smiling queen strayed slightly from protocol and briefly wrapped her arm around the first lady in a rare public show of affection.
It was the first time Mrs. Obama — who is nearly a foot taller — had met the queen. The first lady also wrapped her arm around the monarch’s shoulder and back.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman who asked not to be identified because of palace policy said he could not remember the last time the queen had displayed such public affection with a first lady or dignitary.
“It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection,” he said. “We don’t issue instructions on not touching the queen.”
When the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating put his arm around the queen in 1992, the tabloids dubbed him the “Lizard of Oz.”
When his successor, John Howard, was accused of doing the same, a spokesman insisted: “We firmly deny that there was any contact whatsoever.”
In 2007, President George W. Bush gave the queen a sly wink during a visit she paid to the United States.
The Daily Mail said the “two women clearly took to each other.”