Michelle Obama Meets Queen

LONDON (AP) - Michelle Obama's meeting with Queen Elizabeth II
began with a handshake and ended in a hug.

The first lady arrived Wednesday with President Barack Obama.
After separate meetings on the eve of the G-20 summit, the couple
attended an evening reception for world leaders hosted by the
queen.

Mrs. Obama clearly made an impression with the 82-year-old
monarch - so much that the smiling queen strayed slightly from
protocol and briefly wrapped her arm around the first lady in a
rare public show of affection.

It was the first time Mrs. Obama - who is nearly a foot taller -
had met the queen. The first lady also wrapped her arm around the
monarch's shoulder and back.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman who asked not to be identified
because of palace policy said he could not remember the last time
the queen had displayed such public affection with a first lady or
dignitary.

"It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection," he
said. "We don't issue instructions on not touching the queen."

When the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating put his
arm around the queen in 1992, the tabloids dubbed him the "Lizard
of Oz." When his successor, John Howard, was accused of doing the
same, a spokesman insisted: "We firmly deny that there was any
contact whatsoever." In 2007, President George W. Bush gave the
queen a sly wink during a visit she paid to the United States.

The Daily Mail said the "two women clearly took to each
other."

Wednesday's reception was followed by a dinner at Prime Minister
Gordon Brown's Downing Street home, where the leaders' spouses were joined by notable British women, including "Harry Potter" author
J.K. Rowling and Olympic gold medal runner Kelly Holmes.

"Michelle walks in and she is as she seems," Holmes told
reporters Thursday. "So warm, engaging, a beautiful, beautiful
lady - and I quickly got my photo in the middle of her and Sarah
Brown," the prime minister's wife.

Mrs. Obama also seemed to win over the often feral British
press.

The last time a first lady made such a hit in Britain was last
year with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, the former
fashion model and songwriter Carla Bruni.

But on Thursday, London's Times newspaper had moved on, writing
"Carla who?"

The BBC described Mrs. Obama as her husband's co-star rather
than supporting act - appropriate for a Harvard-educated lawyer.

Mrs. Obama visited an all-girls school in north London on
Thursday afternoon. She told the 240 girls about growing up on
Chicago's south side, and urged them to think of education as
"cool."

"I never cut class. I liked being smart. I liked getting A's,"
she said. "You have everything you need. Everything you need to
succeed you already have right here."

At the end of the visit, Mrs. Obama doled out hugs to the
students, and was swarmed by them - to the extent that some Secret
Service agents stepped nervously forward.

Earlier Thursday, Mrs. Obama attended a performance at the Royal
Opera House with the other spouses and guests. The program included
music by Handel and a dance performance by Ballet Black, a troupe
set up to give performing opportunities to black and Asian
classical dancers.

Wearing a bright teal blue dress by Jason Wu - who designed her
inauguration gown - and a sweater by Junya Watanabe, Mrs. Obama
posed for photographs with Sarah Brown, Therese Rein, wife of
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Japanese Prime Minister Taro
Aso's wife Chikako Aso, and Laureen Harper, who is married to
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the stage of the opera
house.


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