Some royal watchers were scandalized in 2009 when the Queen met Michelle Obama and the then-first lady put her arm around the royal — but according to the Queen’s dressmaker, there was ‘an instant and mutual warmth’ between the two women.
Angela Kelly recalled the moment in her new book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, extracts of which have been published by Hello! magazine.
Reflecting on the touchy-feely encounter, which was caught on camera, Ms. Kelly said that the Queen is natural at putting people at ease, and sometimes that leads them to want to be affectionate.
Friends: Royal dressmaker Angela Kelly said there was ‘an instant and mutual warmth’ between the Queen and Michelle Obama when they first met in 2009 (pictured in May 2011)
Hugs: Some were scandalized after that first meeting when Mrs. Obama broke royal protocol and put her arm around the Queen, though the Queen followed suit
In the published extracts, Ms. Kelly opens up about the meeting between Michelle Obama and the Queen, which sparked controversy when the former first lady touched the Queen on the back.
At the time, headlines blared that Mrs. Obama broke protocol, with some calling it a ‘faux pas’ and others labeling it a ‘gaffe.’
But the physical contact went both ways, and the Queen soon put her own arm on the first lady’s back.
Ms. Kelly said it was ‘natural instinct’ for the Queen to show affection and respect to ‘another great woman.’
‘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,’ Ms Kelly said in the book.
‘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 abandoned as they stood closely with their arms around each other’s backs.’
No big deal: Ms. Kelly said it was ‘natural instinct’ for the Queen, pictured with the Obamas and Prince Philip in 2016, to show affection and respect to ‘another great woman’
Mrs. Obama wrote about the moment herself in her book, Becoming.
‘I then did what’s instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder,’ she 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.’
At the time, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson insisted it was not a breach.
‘It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection. We don’t issue instructions on not touching the queen,’ the spokesperson said.
Ms. Kelly, who is both the Queen’s dressmaker and confidante, also revealed in her new book that she personally wears in the monarch’s shoes before engagements to make sure they are comfortable.
Wearing them in: Ms. Kelly, also revealed in her new book that she personally wears in the monarch’s shoes before engagements to make sure they are comfortable
The Queen sits with Anna Wintour (third right) and Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC) (left) and royal dressmaker Angela Kelly (second right)
She explained that she shares the same shoe size as the Queen, and given the monarch has little time to herself, she wears in the shoes for her.
Author: Angela Kelly, the royal dressmaker, talks about her experiences in her new book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe
‘It makes the most sense this way,’ she said. ‘As has been reported a lot in the press, a flunky wears in Her Majesty’s shoes to ensure that they are comfortable and that she is always good to go. And yes, I am that flunky.’
Ms. Kelly also shared anecdotes about the Queen’s part in a James Bond sketch at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
She recalled being presented with the plan by film director Danny Boyle through the Queen’s private secretary Edward Young.
‘There are few occasions on which Her Majesty will agree to break protocol, but in 2011 when film director Danny Boyle approached the Royal Household, he had a request to make that we simply could not refuse,’ she said.
‘She was very amused by the idea and agreed immediately. I asked then if she would like a speaking part. Without hesitation, Her Majesty replied: “Of course I must say something. After all, he is coming to rescue me.”‘
What fun! The Queen was ‘amused’ when asked to appear in a James Bond sketch for the 2012 London Olympics and quickly agreed
Her work: Pictured are the three dresses worn by the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, designed and created by Angela Kelly MVO
Ms. Kelly said she asked the Queen if she would like to say: ‘Good evening, James’ or ‘Good evening, Mr. Bond. The monarch chose the latter.
‘Within minutes, I was back in Edward’s office delivering the good news to Danny — I think he almost fell off his chair when I said that the Queen’s only stipulation was that she could deliver that iconic line: “Good evening, Mr. Bond,”‘ she said.
The book also reveals how Yorkshire tea helped to recreate a replica of the royal christening gown, which was first used for the christening of James, Viscount Severn, in 2008.
‘To make sure it looked authentic we dyed it in Yorkshire tea (the strongest, as we all know),’ Ms. Kelly said.
‘We placed each piece of lace in a small bowl, from the Dressers’ kitchen, filled with cool water and a tea bag and left it for about five minutes, checking regularly until the colour was perfect.’