Canadian Official Breaks Royal Protocol In The Most Polite Way

Canada's governor general held Queen Elizabeth's elbow as she walked down some steps in London on Wednesday.
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jul 20, 2017

Canada's governor general apparently defied royal protocol with Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday, and it caused quite the media uproar.

So what exactly did Governor General David Johnston do?

He put his hand on the British monarch's elbow while she was walking down the steps of Canada House in London.

Now, many people would probably just call that being polite. But there's an unofficial rule that says members of the public don't touch the royal family unless it's to shake hands.

But, the British monarchy seems a little less uptight. While it provides guidance on how to address the queen — "Your majesty" first, then "Ma'am" after that — its website says "there are no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting The Queen."

Johnston told CBC he was aware of the protocol but said he was concerned about Queen Elizabeth "stumbling on the steps" because the carpet "was a little slippy."

Queen Elizabeth is Canada's head of state, and the governor general is her representative in that country. Johnston was in London to help the monarch celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. 

To be fair, it's not like Johnston is the first person to commit this particular faux pas.

Basketball star Lebron James was photographed with his arm around the Duchess of Cambridge when she and Prince William visited the U.S. in 2014. A Buckingham Palace official downplayed the incident.

And former first lady Michelle Obama gave Queen Elizabeth a brief hug in 2009. A palace official described the hug to CNN as as "a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation."

So, briefly touching a royal probably isn't the end of the world. One thing that is discouraged — taking a selfie with the queen. She reportedly misses making eye contact with people.