President Obama state visit to UK- Day Two
Reminiscing

Michelle Obama shares her experience of meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time

She was nervous because she had “never met royalty before”

Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama took to social media to share her experience of meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time. According to the author and philanthropist, it was her and President Barack Obama’s first trip overseas. Although she was nervous because she had “never met royalty before,” the late monarch immediately made her feel safe and welcomed.

“The very first time I met Her Majesty, the queen, was, I believe, back in April 2009,” the former first lady began. “Barack had just been elected president, and it was our very first trip overseas, and I still remember how nervous I felt,” Michelle said, referring to the time they traveled to the United Kingdom for the G-20 summit.

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“I’d never met royalty before, and here I was meeting Her Majesty, perhaps the most well-known woman in the world, but I have to tell you, all of that disappeared the moment I met her,” she recalled. “She was welcoming. She was incredibly warm, kind, personable, funny. I liked her immediately.”

Mrs. Obama also shared a funny anecdote about the time she and Queen Elizabeth were standing in pain because of their shoes. “Later on that day, I found myself standing next to her again at a reception, and the two of us looked down at our heels, and I looked back over at her, and then we just had a moment of recognition, both of us realizing that our feet were hurting, and I remember looking back at her, and then back around the room just thinking, when is all of this standing around with world leaders gonna finally wrap up?‘ and we both started laughing,” she said.

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“That moment has always meant so much to me. I put it in my book, ‘Becoming’ because it was so important,” Obama added, referring to her memoir. “In the years since, Her Majesty has meant so much to our entire family. She’s shown such kindness and generosity, especially toward our daughters and my mom during a separate trip we made there.”

“Through it all, she’s always been extraordinary. Her charm, her levelheadedness has proven to me that she is far more than just a figurehead. She is a true embodiment of grace and elegance and dignity for us, and for many others around the world,” she concluded.

Former President Obama, who had a great friendship with the queen, also shared his recollection of meeting her. “She reminded me very much of my grandmother, which surprised me, not just in appearance but also in matter, very gracious, but also no-nonsense, wry sense of humor,” he said. “She could not have been more kind or thoughtful to me and Michelle.”

“Shortly thereafter, Michelle and Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, had occasion to go back to England. Buckingham Palace reached out, and Her Majesty had invited Michelle and the two girls to tea. She had then offered the girls to drive in her golden carriage around the grounds of Buckingham Palace,” he recounted. “It was the sort of generosity and consideration that left a mark in my daughters‘ lives that’s still there.”

“The queen was an excellent listener. She had a genuine curiosity, although she was impatient to get to the point,” he said.

Barack Obama also shared an anecdote from the May 2011 state dinner held at Buckingham Palace. “The queen was dressed up quite a bit for the state dinner, and it was a little bit concerning for Michelle because as a gift to Her Majesty, Michelle had selected a small, modest broach of nominal value,” Obama recalled. “We reciprocated the following evening with a dinner that we hosted at the American Embassy. But the one thing we immediately notice is that she’s wearing the brooch that Michelle had given, and it was an example of the subtle thoughtfulness that she consistently displayed not just to us but everybody who she interacted with.”

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“She was very mindful of guests at Buckingham Palace not overstaying their welcome. She was looking at her watch and at some point said, ‘Well, OK, it’s time to go,’” Obama added. “And the same was true as a guest; she wasn’t interested in overstaying her welcome. She looked at her watch at a certain point and said, ‘I think we need to wrap this up.’ The combination of a sense of duty and a clear understanding of her role as a symbol for a nation and as the carrier of a certain set of values, combined with a very human quality of kindness and consideration, I think that’s what made her so beloved not just in Great Britain but around the world.”

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Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, passed away on September 8, 2022, at 96 years old. Although her death has caused a significant impact on those who admired her devotion, grace, and dignity, the eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, will be forever remembered for her love for corgies, elaborated hats, and bright, colorful outfits.

Born in Mayfair in 1926, Elizabeth acceded to the throne following her father’s death in 1952. Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time of her father’s passing. She returned to the UK as Queen with her coronation taking place over a year later on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey.

In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch and in 2022 she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service.