Why is this man bowing?


The caption on the photo above reads:

LONDON – APRIL 1: The President of the United States Barack Obama (C back to camera) greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (C) before the official G20 leaders photograph with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009 in London, England. Obama is on his first trip to the UK as President and will be attending G20 world leaders’ summit dedicated to tackling the global financial crisis.

What’s wrong with this picture? Americans do not bow to royalty. In my view, when the royal is the ruling tyrant of a despotic regime, the wrong is compounded. Putting aside the breach of American protocol, it is akin to Jimmy Carter succumbing to Brezhnev’s infamous kiss at the signing of the arms accord in Vienna in 1979. It is a disgrace. As in Carter’s case, Obama’s supplicant attitude signifies his spirit. In this respect I distinguish it from George Bush’s otherwise embarrasing handholding with the the king.

Anticipating that conservatives would criticize Michelle Obama if she were to curtsy to the Queen, one of the denizens of Democratic Underground posted this interesting anecdote yesterday (I can’t vouch for its veracity):

In fact, protocol dictates that she not do so.

Angier Biddle Duke, President Kennedy’s Chief of Protocol told this very poignant story…

Before the Kennedy’s first state visit to England, Jacqueline Kennedy asked Duke whether she should curtsy to the Queen. He told her no because she was the wife of the head of state and heads of state and their wives do not go around bowing and curtsying to one another.

Three years later, after her husband’s funeral, Mrs. Kennedy received guests in the White House family quarters. When Prince Philip greeted her, she curtsied to him. Duke was surprised because Mrs. Kennedy was a stickler for protocol and had a steel trap memory for such things. Noting his surprise, Mrs. Kennedy whispered to him:

“Angie, I’m no longer the wife of a head of state.”

Duke said he immediately left the room and wept.

So, don’t be surprised if Mrs. Obama does not curtsy to the Queen. Also don’t be surprised if she gets jumped all over for it – but she’ll be doing – or not doing – exactly what she’s supposed to.

I’m pretty sure that this is a story that lost its currency among the left today.

UPDATE: Rick Moran writes to note that the anecdote was lifted directly from William Manchester’s Death of a President. Rick adds: “And you might recall the trouble Nancy Reagan got in when she, in fact, curtsied before the queen. All this bowing and scraping done before inbred elites whose only claim to the throne is that their parents were monarchs is unseemly for us republicans.”


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