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Obama's Former Protocol Chief Recalls Meeting with Queen Elizabeth

Olowokandi Fiyin
Jun 25, 2020
11:30 A.M.
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Former President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama's former Protocol Chief, Caprica Penavic Marshall, recalls her meeting with Queen Elizabeth and the lesson she learned in a candid discussion about her new book.

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In the four years she served as the Chief of Protocol of the United States, Caprica Penavic Marshall has met several prominent leaders. However, it was her meeting with Queen Elizabeth that left her with a memorable story.

Former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, pose for a photograph at Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, pose for a photograph at Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images

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During a recent interview with People Magazine to discuss her new book, "Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make It Work for You," Caprica recalled her meeting with the Queen.

[Caprica Penavic Marshall] previously served as a social secretary under President Bill and First Lady Hilary Clinton's administration.

The former protocol chief — who was in the habit of offering to help women with their bags during official meetings — recounted that when Her Majesty stepped out of the palace lawn to receive the Obamas, she went for her purse.

Queen Elizabeth II poses with Former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Prince Philip, in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

Queen Elizabeth II poses with Former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Prince Philip, in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

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Unknown to her, that was against royal protocol. As she reached for the bag, she was immediately stopped by a palace official. Rehashing the encounter, Marshall said:

"He, with both of his hands, pushed me back against the wall and said, 'Do not touch the bag.' and I said, 'Oh, my goodness. I'm so sorry. He goes, 'We do not touch the bag.'"

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama meet with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama meet with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

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Although she quickly apologized and refrained from touching the Queen's bag, the 56-year-old didn't know the importance of the bag until later. Marshall explained that she later found out that Her Majesty uses the bag a signal to her aides.

She also mentions that rumors suggest the bag houses a phone that the Queen uses to call her grandchildren. In the book which Marshall released on Tuesday, she shares anecdotes, communication tips, and lessons learned from her 12 years of serving in the White house.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama pose with Queen Elizabeth II at a reception at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009. | Photo: Getty Images.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama pose with Queen Elizabeth II at a reception at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009. | Photo: Getty Images.

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She previously served as a social secretary under President Bill and First Lady Hilary Clinton's administration. HELLO! Magazine recalls that the Obamas managed to form a tight bond with members of the royal family during their eight years in office and beyond.

Since their first meeting with the Queen and Prince Philip in April 2009, Barack and Michelle have returned to the palace on several occasions. They have also formed alliances with the younger generation of royals.

Barack Obama, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Michelle Obama and Prince Henry having a discussion at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

Barack Obama, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Michelle Obama and Prince Henry having a discussion at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

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The bond between Michelle and the Queen is especially tight as CNN reports that the former first lady recounted an extraordinary encounter with the monarch during a speaking engagement in London.

The "Becoming" author recalled that while she was visiting the Queen in 2016 at Windsor Castle, she panicked and was going over the protocols when the monarch said, "Oh, it's all rubbish, just get in."

Queen Elizabeth II and Former President Barack Obama pose in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

Queen Elizabeth II and Former President Barack Obama pose in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images.

While her husband Barack might not share such a bond with the Queen, BBC notes that the former president has previously described her as "truly one of my favourite people."

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