In Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming, the former first lady opens up about her and former President Barack Obama’s relationship with the royal—and reveals an entertaining anecdote: Queen Elizabeth II broke royal protocol during their last visit of President Obama’s tenure. Here are 20 other things you probably didn’t know about the Queen.
In 2016, the couple flew to the United Kingdom to spend time with the Queen and her husband, Prince Phillip. Prior to their time together, the Obamas were briefed on protocol: Michelle would sit in the passenger seat next to the driver, the Prince himself, and Barack would sit next to the Queen in the backseat—or so they thought.
“After we’d touched down in a field on the palace grounds and said our hellos, however, the Queen abruptly threw a wrench into everything by gesturing for me to join her in the backseat of the Range Rover,” Michelle writes.
“I froze, trying to remember if anyone had prepped me for this scenario, whether it was more polite to go along with it or to insist that Barack take his proper seat by her side.”
Sensing Michelle was uncomfortable, the Queen assured her they could break the rules. “‘Did they give you some rule about this?’ she said [to Michelle], dismissing all the fuss with a wave of her hand. ‘That’s rubbish. Sit wherever you want.’”
This isn’t the only time Queen Elizabeth shunned the rules. In fact, she’s broken 13 of them during her reign—including the time she famously returned a light hug to Michelle in 2009.
Unaware of the protocol at the time, the then-first lady committed a royal blunder when she put her arm around the monarch while the women conversed about their uncomfortable heels. In her book, Michelle goes on to joke that she and the Queen were “just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes.” Royals—they really are just like us. Check out 17 of Queen Elizabeth’s funniest moments caught on camera.