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Michelle Obama


Making up for Michelle: My Royal Encounter

Generally speaking, I have nothing but praise for First Lady Michelle Obama. She’s an accomplished career woman, advocate of physical fitness, and, miraculously, has managed to pull off bangs (that’s a fringe to my British readers) in middle age. As far as I can tell, her only fault was that memorable moment in 2009 when she dared to hug the Queen of England. Luckily for Mrs. Obama, and on behalf of all Americans in England, I set out to make good on her gaffe this past weekend when I had occasion to meet the Queen’s son, HRH The Prince of Wales.

Check out that footwork. Years of childhood ballet recitals finally pay off.

Prince Charles was visiting our Cotswold town to attend a choral concert as part of Music in Country Churches, a charity of which he is a patron. That I was allowed to meet him, and thus rectify Mrs. O’s impropriety, was through the good fortune of our cherished friendship with Rupert and Ralph (of Americashire fame), who are residents of the former vicarage. During the concert interval, HRH would take refreshment in a marquee on the lawn of the vicarage. To thank the residents for their hospitality, Prince Charles would then take a moment to greet them all before returning to the church for the remainder of the concert. Knowing of my Anglophilia and having met HRH on a previous visit some years ago, Rupert and Ralph suggested we masquerade as residents of the vicarage and take their place in the receiving line. In exchange for their generosity, the only request was that I behave. And so I took to the internet to research royal etiquette and spent the day doing curtsy practice around our kitchen. When my turn came, I would be ready.

As HRH made his way down the receiving line, I readied myself for the big moment, shifting my weight to my right foot and purse into my left hand. With his pleasantries nearly completed with the woman next to me, I went in for my curtsy, adding a reverent little bow. Just at that moment, a chap from a few places earlier in the receiving line took advantage of the pause to attempt to re-engage HRH in a bit of light banter. I panicked. What was this over-eager buffoon doing distracting Prince Charles from the gracious sweep of my curtsy? I was already down. Should I come out of my pose and wait my turn or should I just stay in position? Erring on the side of caution—there would be no Michelle-esque breaches of etiquette on my watch—I chose to stay as I was, leaving HRH to greet my slightly overgrown roots when he did turn his attention to me.

In an apparent bid to make HRH feel better about his comb over, I show him my roots

As patiently as he had waited for the last fellow to finish his bit of not-so-snappy repartee, HRH waited for me to complete my genuflection so that we could shake hands. Thankfully my husband managed to answer some questions on my behalf while I was busy bowing. I’m not sure I ever managed to form any words, but at least I have proof I managed to smile.

Oh shit, the future King of England is talking to me