President and First Lady Joe and Jill Biden met with Queen Elizabeth for the first time since moving into the White House over the weekend, but the visit got off to somewhat of a bad start, as the Americans were caught breaking royal protocol.
The Express reported that royal protocol states that members of the royal family should be the last ones to arrive at an event, and the first ones to leave it. However, the Bidens arrived at the reception a few minutes after the Queen did.
A royal expert spoke out to warn that “everyone” should arrive before the royals at ceremonial events, and no one should leave before them at the end. British professional coaching company Debrett’s specifically says, “It is correct for everyone to arrive before the royal personage and protocol rules that no guest should leave an event before a member of the Royal Family.”
The only time that the Queen does not follow this rule is on wedding days, when she allows the bride to arrive just after she does. The Queen also abandoned this protocol to honor Winston Churchill on the day of his funeral, when she arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral, where the wartime Prime Minister’s funeral took place, before both his family and his coffin.
Despite the fact that the Bidens broke the protocol, the Queen was still all smiles when she met with them.
This isn’t the first time that a president or first lady broke royal protocol. Back in 2009, Michelle Obama famously broke protocol by putting her arm around the Queen. Michelle would continue to be nervous about protocol from then on when meeting with the Queen, but the monarch told her not to worry about it.
“So I had all this protocol buzzing in my head, and I was like ‘don’t trip down the stairs and don’t touch anybody, whatever you do,'” Michelle recalled while speaking at an event in London back in 2018. “And so the Queen says ‘just get in, sit wherever’ and she’s telling you one thing and you’re remembering protocol and she says ‘Oh it’s all rubbish, just get in.'”