Queen Reminded Barack Obama of his Grandmother—'She Doesn't Suffer Fools'

Queen Elizabeth II reminded Barack Obama of his grandmother during a state visit to Britain, a new biography reveals.

In an account serialized by The Daily Mail, journalist Robert Hardman reveals in his new book, Queen Of Our Times: The Life Of Elizabeth II, how the then-president was won over by the Queen's no-nonsense approach to life.

During the 2011 state visit made by the Obamas to Britain, the then-president and first lady were hosted at Buckingham Palace by the Queen and Prince Philip.

This was not the first time that the Obama's had met the monarch. At a reception for G20 leaders in 2009, Michelle Obama made headlines after she instinctively put her arm around the Queen causing outraged claims of a breach of royal protocol.

Obama's warmth of feeling towards the monarch is apparently mutual with the Queen appearing to return the gesture.

In 2019, one of the Queen's closest member of staff, dresser Angela Kelly, wrote: "It was a natural instinct for the Queen to show affection and respect for another great woman and really there is no protocol that must be adhered to."

Queen of Our Times states that on the evening of the state banquet held at Buckingham Palace for the Obamas, the president had to be encouraged to go to bed as the Queen was getting tired.

The then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, was approached by the Queen and asked if he would diplomatically encourage the president to go to bed.

Queen Elizabeth II and Obama
Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II during the speeches at a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011. Anwar Hussein/WireImage

"I could see Obama with a drink in hand, and I was thinking: What do I do? I couldn't just interrupt and say, 'Oh, the Queen wants you to go to bed,'" Osborne told Hardman.

Luckily, a member of the royal household stepped in and gently brought the evening to a close. Back in the Belgian Suite—a lavish arrangement of rooms on the ground floor of Buckingham Palace used to host heads of state—Obama invited a group of his staff for a drink.

He told his senior speechwriter Ben Rhodes: "I really love the Queen...She's just like Toot, my grandmother. Courteous. Straightforward. All about what she thinks. She doesn't suffer fools."

Queen Elizabeth II Obamas G20
Barack and Michelle Obama meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at an audience at Buckingham Palace ahead of the G20 summit, April 1, 2009. Michelle Obama caused a media stir when she put her arm around the Queen which was seen as a breach of royal protocol. John Stillwell/AFP via Getty Images

The comparison between Obama's much adored Hawaiian grandmother and the British monarch could not have been more flattering, though the after party was nearly interrupted by an unwanted intruder.

Hardman recounts that a palace footman informed the group that a mouse had been spotted in the vicinity. According to Rhodes, Obama's only reaction was "don't tell the first lady," who is apparently not fond of mice.

On that visit in 2011 the Obamas presented the Queen with a personal gift of a small brooch in the shape of a flower made from moss agate. At the return banquet hosted by the Obamas at the American ambassador's residence in London, the Queen wore the brooch to the surprise and admiration of the first lady.

Speaking to Stephen Colbert to promote her autobiography Becoming, Michelle Obama said: "In the gloriousness of the outfit that she had on, she put on the little bitty pin we gave her... that has been my experience [with the Queen] that kind of warmth and graciousness and intelligence and wit. I like her."

Queen Elizabeth II and Obamas
Barack and Michelle Obama host a return banquet at the American ambassadors residence in London on May 25, 2011. The Queen wears a small agate flower brooch given to her by the Obama's. Anwar Hussein/WireImage

On subsequent visits to the UK, the Queen and Obamas have been seen getting along well.

In 2016 the former president made a farewell trip to Britain before leaving office. After arriving at Windsor by helicopter the couple were greeted on the lawns of the castle by the Queen and Prince Philip who insisted on driving the couple back himself.

Barack Obama has been demonstrative of his affection for the Queen, and speaking in the ITV documentary, Our Queen at Ninety, the then-president said: "We often speak of the deep and enduring partnership between our two countries. It is indeed a special relationship. And Her Majesty has been a vital part of what keeps our relationship so special."

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