In 2019, a decade after the hug around the world, Angela Kelly, Queen Elizabeth’s personal assistant and executive chest of drawers, discussed the incident in her memoirs. The other side of the coin: the queen, the chest of drawers and the wardrobe.
“There are certain things that are understood as an accepted protocol when it comes to interacting with Her Majesty,” she wrote after an excerpt from Hello! magazine. “For example, supposedly you should never put your arm around the queen, but sometimes when human instincts occur, this is absolutely appropriate.”
Kelly added that it was obvious that Michelle Obama and the Queen had an emotional connection, and when this happens, the royal protocol is not as important as the friendship. “Much has been done about the meeting between Michelle and Her Majesty when these two remarkable women shared an immediate and mutual warmth and the protocol was apparently ‘given up’ because they stood closely with their arms around each other’s back,” she wrote and added that Queen Elizabeth was happy to return the gesture.
“In reality, it was a natural instinct for the queen to show affection and respect for another tall woman, and there really is no protocol to follow,” Angela continued. “If affection is felt or the host of a state visit takes Her Majesty up a few steps, it is really about human kindness, and this will always warmly welcome the Queen.”