Some media pundits wanted to portray it as a breach in protocol when the First Lady touched the queen of England. But according to witnesses, the queen herself initiated the mutual exchange of affection.
I am glad the queen had the good grace to recognize an American ceremonial ritual. The two women have a lot in common. Neither was elected to any political office: They both hold ceremonial and symbolic positions, and in that sense, they do represent their people. The American First Lady is the closest thing to royalty that we have.
We call her first lady, not in the sense of “your ladyship,” but according to the quaint, almost obsolete custom of referring to any respectable woman above the age of–oh, 25 to 30 (maybe younger if she is married and has children) as a lady.
Of course, it would be unconstitutional to address Mrs. Obama as “Your Ladyship” or to use any other title of nobility. It is unconstitutional for us to recognize or bestow such titles; so if Mrs. Obama had breached royal protocol, she would have been in compliance with the document her husband has sworn (both on-camera and off) to uphold.
But there was no constitutional crisis and no social faux pas. Both women seemed to share genuine affection for one another.