Ok, did you see it? Did you see it?!
For the second time in my life, I saw someone hug the Queen! Yes indeed, upon meeting her Majesty, Michelle Obama hugged the Queen… And what were the consequences of her actions?
No, her arm did not freeze and fall off. No, Buckingham Palace did not wrestle her to the floor and launch her through the doors with the words “and stay out” ringing in her ears. No, Prince Phillip did not pass out with all the excitement.
In fact, in a crazy series of events, the Queen felt a mysterious compulsion to return the gesture. She hugged back!
I want to hug the Queen! In an instant in my eyes, our Queen became huggable. I’d like to think that when I go to collect my Knighthood in the next few years, I’ll just say “oh come here you…” and give her a warm embrace.
Let me explain why I am discussing this today…
The fact that such behaviour was unthinkable 20 years ago. Yes, indeed, the Queen of England put her arm around the First Lady and Mrs. Obama put her arm around the Queen. Royal watchers couldn’t believe their eyes or ears when they heard Buckingham Palace describe the encounter as “a mutual and spontaneous display of affection.”
I love it — a hug — something that we all mostly do often, with friends, family, new and old acquaintances, colleagues, clients and random blokes we meet at the pub that we have known for 10 minutes, but he explained the meaning of life to you while you stood together in the toilet earlier (ahem, or is that just me)… This simple gesture of human warmth, Buckingham Palace cite as “a mutual and spontaneous display of affection.”
Love it. You have to love the fact that the palace feels the need to explain itself!
I said earlier that this was the second time this has happened… it is now almost 20 years since the queen has felt the touch of someone attempting to publicly hug or embrace her.
That brief encounter came in 1992 when the Australian Prime Minister of the time, Paul Keating put his arm around Her Majesty and upon her back during an official tour.
Hilariously, as the British public tutted at anyone daring to touch our Queen in this fashion, his intimate impudence led to him being nicknamed in our tabloid press, “Lizard of Oz.” Hahaha. when the poor guy was actually following the ancient mammalian biological protocol that demands we reach out and touch each other. history even nearly repeated itself in 200 when Australian Prime Minister John Howard appeared to do the same thing! How dare these men behave like this!
That was then though, and Michelle Obama seems to have brought the Queen’s affectionate side to the fore.
Allow me to be a teeny bit scientific for a nrief moment… The chemistry of connection centres around a brain hormone called oxytocin. This molecule, which is made in the hypothalamus and released throughout the brain and body, produces labour contractions and lactation — two major traits that define us as mammals.
About fifteen years ago, it was also found to exert a potent influence over all the brain centres that control emotion and behaviour — making us not just mammals, but social mammals. I know, I know, you love the fact that I just referred to the human race as social mammals…
Oxytocin quiets the brain’s fear and stress circuitry while activating the neural networks that fill us with a sense of confidence and curiosity that makes us want to approach and interact with others. It also provides the sense of relaxation and belonging we feel when our touch is appreciated and returned. This is the powerful social brain chemistry that royal protocol has stifled for hundreds of years.
Fortunately the Queen has instinctively found a way to keep her oxytocin flowing.
She is famously surrounded by her beloved corgies and is happily relaxed on the back of a horse. Contact with dogs has been proven to almost double oxytocin levels in humans. It may be bad form to consider the rhythmic, repetitive massage-like stimulation the royal pelvic nerves receive while riding to the hounds, but it’s good science to say that such intimate contact releases oxytocin, even in a Queen.
Did I mention that hugs release oxytocin? Well they do — which explains why Queen Elizabeth didn’t recoil at Mrs. Obama’s friendly gesture. For a few seconds the Queen of England let her better biology flow and it’s nice to think that by the time I get to meet her, she’ll be regularly kissing and hugging all and sundry…
I joke about the science, the science is interesting but not really my field… I think the processes of years of having to be publicly stunted in an emotional manner, to keep being austere and keeping to Royal protocol must have an effect on you as an individual, no?
So to sum things up… The Queen just needs a bit of hypnotherapy… She just needs a few sessions… To get the oxytocin flowing in her brain and body, to get her hugging more frequently and have her just relax somewhat… We won;t mind if the Queen hugs more regularly, will we? We don’t mind if she brings ‘what is proper’ into the 21st century, will we?
All the Royals have this very up stright and tight demeanour that they are required to maintain. it makes me fel worn out and stunted just contemplating it. Come on you royals, form an orderly queue…
I am ready and waiting for you Maam. 🙂