Obama’s Breach of Royal Protocol

At last night’s state dinner held at Buckingham Palace, President Obama inadvertently broke Royal Protocol whilst he made the loyal toast to Her Majesty The Queen.

Click to watch the video from BBC News.

So, what went wrong? After calling for the guests to stand, Mr Obama said “To Her Majesty The Queen”. If he had stopped here, this would be correct(ish). In Britain, the loyal toast is just ‘The Queen’. There is no ‘to’ preposition. This is what set off the orchestra from the Scotch Guards into playing the British national anthem, as they would be used to loyal toasts ending there. However, Mr. Obama chose to extend the toast and say a few more words, which (however well intentioned) is breaking Royal protocol.

It was quite nice to have the national anthem underscoring the rest of his toast, but normally one stands in respectful silence whilst it plays. Her Majesty, being polite and worldly, thanked Mr. Obama for his kind words and did not say anything. It would have been rude to do so.

What Mr. Obama needs to learn from this hiccough is that a toast is not a speech.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner 

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2 Responses to “Obama’s Breach of Royal Protocol”


  1. 1 Shelagh Aizlewood 25 May 2011 at 1:32 pm

    President Obama’s advisors in the US Department of Protocol may benefit from a little extra coaching as not only did they fail to familiarise him with Royal Protocol surrounding the Loyal Toast, they have also omitted to correct his habit of referring to Her Majesty as “Queen of England”.

  2. 2 Jay Remer 25 May 2011 at 10:20 pm

    As much of an admirer of President Obama as I am, he dropped the proverbial ball on this one. I might chalk it up to a case of nerves, but he was not properly schooled on Royal Protocol – someone screwed up big time. I also noticed he walked in beside Her Majesty clasping his hands in front of him – not a good look. One might even go so far as to think he had “things on his mind”. He deserves forgiveness and a lesson. Her Majesty and Her guests were gracious and polite, as would be expected.


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