When you're a Queen at a royal event, you're decked out head-to-toe in family jewels and heirlooms. That's why Michelle Obama was touched when Queen Elizabeth II wore a pin Obama bought her. When you have tiaras and choker necklaces that have more diamonds than Tiffany's has in its vault, then you're not expected to wear a small pin. Which is exactly why Obama was so appreciative of that gesture.
Obama shared that particular memory during her London stop of her Becoming book tour on April 14. Speaking to a crowd of 15,000 people at the O2 Arena, the former First Lady opened up about how it felt to meet the Queen.
"She's wonderfully warm. And funny. And she's elegant and kind and considerate in really interesting ways," Obama shared, according to Hello magazine. "I remember, I don't know if it was the first visit or the second visit, we gave her this little pin. You know, 'what do you give her Majesty the Queen?'"
The Obamas settled on choosing a small jewel encrusted pin, which they gifted to the Queen during their visit. During the evening of that same day, the Queen welcomed the Obamas during a reception, and the Queen wore her usual black tie uniform, which is a gown paired with jewels. And among all those sparkling family heirlooms, Obama saw the pin that they gifted her.
"And in the gloriousness of that outfit that she had on she put on the little bitty pin we gave her," Obama said. "I was like, 'You wore the pin', and she just said 'hmm, yes'. That was my experience. That has been my experience. That kind of warmth and graciousness, and intelligence and wit. I like her."
The pin in question was a small flower brooch, where the stem was gold and the petals were made from green gems. The center of the flower had a small diamond.
The Queen accented the pin with a necklace made from a string of diamonds. The end of the necklace had emerald droplets, highlighting the green in her pin.
During that same Becoming event, Obama addressed her protocol mistake when she first met Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. The former First Lady made headlines when she put her arm around the Queen during a reception in Buckingham Palace, which is against the rules.
According to royal protocol, a royal is only allowed to be touched if they make the first move. “The monarch appeared awkward at first, but after this initial surprise and hesitation, she seemed to respond positively by putting her arm round Obama’s waist," The Guardian reported at the time.
"What is true among world leaders is that there are people who handle protocol, and usually the people they're representing don't want all that protocol," Obama said during the Becoming event. "So you wonder, 'Well who are you doing this for?' Because they don't want it, we don't want it. But it's just the way things are. So I don’t know that I could have done anything differently because it was a natural human reaction."
In fact, according to Becoming, the reason Obama put her arm around the Queen was because they were both bonding over how much their feet hurt in their heels.
From hugs to pin sharing, Obama clearly has fond memories of her time with the Queen.