During the dinner with Queen Elizabeth II yesterday, it became more than clear that the American president Barack Obama lacks a lot of experience with royal houses and their customs. While he gave a toast, the British national anthem was playing in the background. The queen refused to raise her glass to Obama’s toast; he could do nothing but put his own glass back down.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please stand with me and raise your glasses as I propose a toast,” Obama started his speech. The guests did rise, but their glasses, except for Obama's, remained untouched. When he started speaking his first words, the music of “God Save the Queen” started to play. Most likely, Obama must have thought this to be some soft background music since he continued talking, finishing his speech by raising his glass in the queen’s direction.
But she did not move at all, seeming maybe a bit grumpy, wearing a grimace of doubt or disdain — American journalists were not fully agreeing on this. The only thing Obama could do was put his own glass back down. It was not only the queen, but all other members of the royal house and guests, who waited for the final notes of the anthem. Only then were all the glasses raised. As protocol stipulates, first the anthem, then the speech and only then a toast. Let it be a lesson in royal houses and their protocols for Obama.