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Queen Elizabeth and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) toast during a State Banquet in Buckingham Palace in London May 24, 2011. (POOL/REUTERS)
Queen Elizabeth and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) toast during a State Banquet in Buckingham Palace in London May 24, 2011. (POOL/REUTERS)

How not to toast the Queen: Obama's awkward royal gaffe Add to ...

Oops. At some point, we've all committed some sort of social gaffe that makes us wish we could crawl under the table or moonwalk our way out of the scene. So it's a little reassuring when even the President of the United States commits embarrassing etiquette blunders.

According to ABC News, President Barack Obama was proposing a toast to the Queen at Buckingham Palace last night, when things went a bit awry. As he put down his note cards and raised a glass, declaring, "To her majesty the Queen," the orchestra took it as its cue to start playing God Save the Queen.

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While guests stood solemnly as the anthem played on, Mr. Obama, who wasn't finished speaking, resumed his toast as though the song was mere background music.

"… the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples and for the words of Shakespeare to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England," he continued, turning to address her, as the music swelled. "To the Queen."

The Queen glanced at him quickly, appearing to smile uncomfortably, before returning her gaze straight ahead until the orchestra finished. At this point, the president seemed to realize his faux-pas, put down his glass, and stared quietly ahead. Not until the anthem ended did the Queen and the guests raise their glasses. Talk about awkward.

But was Mr. Obama's misstep as embarrassing as the one made by his predecessor when meeting her majesty?

In 1991, while his father was president, George W. Bush is said to have introduced himself to the Queen as "the black sheep of the family," and dared to ask her who his equivalent was in the Windsor family, according to the BBC. When he realized his error, he winked at the monarch, committing another etiquette no-no.

What's the best way to recover when you've made a social error? Carry on as though it never happened, or acknowledge it (perhaps with a wink)?

Follow on Twitter: @wencyleung

 

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