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Queen Elizabeth II dead at 96: Michelle and Barack Obama share touching tribute to Monarch

Michelle and Barack Obama have shared a touching tribute to their longtime friend Queen Elizabeth II, after it was announced that she had passed away on Thursday at age 96.

The former President, 61, and First Lady, 58, said in a joint statement posted to their Twitter accounts that they were ‘joining so many others who are celebrating her life and mourning her passing.’ 

‘Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us,’ Barack wrote.

‘Back when we were beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity.

‘Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance.’

‘Like so many of you, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service,’ he concluded in the statement. 

Michelle and Barack Obama have shared a touching tribute to their longtime friend Queen Elizabeth II, after it was announced that she had passed away on Thursday at age 96

 Michelle and Barack Obama have shared a touching tribute to their longtime friend Queen Elizabeth II, after it was announced that she had passed away on Thursday at age 96

The former President, 61, and First Lady, 58, said in a joint statement that they were 'joining so many others who are celebrating her life and mourning her passing'

The former President, 61, and First Lady, 58, said in a joint statement that they were 'joining so many others who are celebrating her life and mourning her passing'

The former President, 61, and First Lady, 58, said in a joint statement that they were ‘joining so many others who are celebrating her life and mourning her passing’

They said she meant 'a great deal' to them, and remembered how she 'welcomed them with open arms and extraordinary generosity.' Barack is seen with the Queen in 2011

They said she meant 'a great deal' to them, and remembered how she 'welcomed them with open arms and extraordinary generosity.' Barack is seen with the Queen in 2011

They said she meant ‘a great deal’ to them, and remembered how she ‘welcomed them with open arms and extraordinary generosity.’ Barack is seen with the Queen in 2011

The pair (pictured in 2011) added that she reigned with 'grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic,' while 'defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation'

The pair (pictured in 2011) added that she reigned with 'grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic,' while 'defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation'

The pair (pictured in 2011) added that she reigned with ‘grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic,’ while ‘defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation’ 

While both of them seemed to have a great relationship with the Monarch, Michelle became especially close with her over the years

While both of them seemed to have a great relationship with the Monarch, Michelle became especially close with her over the years

While both of them seemed to have a great relationship with the Monarch, Michelle became especially close with her over the years 

 ‘Our thoughts are with her family and the people of the United Kingdom at this difficult time.’ 

The pair added that she reigned with ‘grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic,’ while ‘defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation.’

Their strong bond came despite the fact that Michelle broke royal protocol by placing her arm on the Queen's back during their first meeting in 2009 - which is strictly prohibited - in a highly controversial moment that sparked furious backlash for the mother-of-two (seen above)

Their strong bond came despite the fact that Michelle broke royal protocol by placing her arm on the Queen's back during their first meeting in 2009 - which is strictly prohibited - in a highly controversial moment that sparked furious backlash for the mother-of-two (seen above)

Their strong bond came despite the fact that Michelle broke royal protocol by placing her arm on the Queen’s back during their first meeting in 2009 – which is strictly prohibited – in a highly controversial moment that sparked furious backlash for the mother-of-two (seen above) 

While both of them seemed to have a great relationship with the Monarch, Michelle became especially close with her over the years – despite the fact that she broke royal protocol by placing her arm on the Queen’s back during their first meeting in 2009 – which is strictly prohibited – in a highly controversial moment that sparked furious backlash for the mother-of-two. 

It was a moment that could well have doomed a relationship of the utmost diplomatic importance – but instead, it seemed to bring the two women even closer.

The scandalous gesture ultimately sparked what would become a long and uniquely strong amity between the two women, one that would stretch across more than 10 years.

Ever the skilled stateswoman, the Queen took the incident in stride, and put Michelle at ease by returning the gesture – placing her own hand on the First Lady’s shoulder, and in doing so, she turned what might have been inauspicious first meeting into the start of a very special friendship. 

Michelle later explained in her 2018 memoir, Becoming, that the two women had bonded over wearing painful heels, and that she did what was ‘instinctive’ to her ‘anytime she feels connected to a new person.’ 

‘Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I’d flown to London on a presidential jet; we were two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes,’ she wrote. 

It was a moment that could well have doomed a relationship of the utmost diplomatic importance - but instead, it seemed to bring the two women even closer

It was a moment that could well have doomed a relationship of the utmost diplomatic importance - but instead, it seemed to bring the two women even closer

It was a moment that could well have doomed a relationship of the utmost diplomatic importance – but instead, it seemed to bring the two women even closer 

Ever the skilled stateswoman, the Queen took the incident in her stride, even putting Michelle at ease by returning the gesture, placing her own hand on the First Lady's shoulder

Ever the skilled stateswoman, the Queen took the incident in her stride, even putting Michelle at ease by returning the gesture, placing her own hand on the First Lady's shoulder

Ever the skilled stateswoman, the Queen took the incident in her stride, even putting Michelle at ease by returning the gesture, placing her own hand on the First Lady’s shoulder

The scandalous gesture ultimately sparked what would become a long and uniquely strong amity between the two women, one that would stretch across more than 10 years

The scandalous gesture ultimately sparked what would become a long and uniquely strong amity between the two women, one that would stretch across more than 10 years

The scandalous gesture ultimately sparked what would become a long and uniquely strong amity between the two women, one that would stretch across more than 10 years

The scandalous gesture ultimately sparked what would become a long and uniquely strong amity between the two women, one that would stretch across more than 10 years

The scandalous gesture ultimately sparked what would become a long and uniquely strong amity between the two women, one that would stretch across more than 10 years 

‘I then did what’s instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder.’

Michelle added that it didn’t occur to her at the time that she had committed ‘what would be deemed as an epic faux pas,’ and that the ordeal ‘revived speculation that she was generally uncouth and lacking the standard elegance of a First Lady.’

However, she continued, ‘I tried not to let the criticism rattle me. If I hadn’t done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing.’

And according to Michelle, she felt like the the Queen was ‘OK’ with it. She revealed, ‘I daresay the Queen was OK with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back.’

Michelle and the Queen’s unique relationship included ‘sleepovers’ at the Palace, gossiping, and breaking the ‘rubbish’ royal protocol more times together.

In 2016, Her Majesty broke the rules once again with Michelle by her side, when she asked the First Lady to sit next next to her in the car, despite Michelle being told by secret service before hand that she was to sit in the front seat while the Queen was to sit in the back.

After showing hesitation, Michelle revealed in her book that the Queen called the rules ‘rubbish’ and told her to sit ‘wherever she wanted.’

Over the years, the women’s relationship flourished, and Michelle praised Her Majesty numerous times publicly – calling her ‘smart, funny, and honest’ in a 2018 press conference, and gushing over the ‘extraordinary warmth she extended to their entire family’ in a tribute posted in June.

Michelle and the Queen's (seen in 2011) unique relationship included 'sleepovers' at the Palace, gossiping, and breaking the 'rubbish' royal protocol more times together

Michelle and the Queen's (seen in 2011) unique relationship included 'sleepovers' at the Palace, gossiping, and breaking the 'rubbish' royal protocol more times together

Michelle and the Queen's (seen in 2011) unique relationship included 'sleepovers' at the Palace, gossiping, and breaking the 'rubbish' royal protocol more times together

Michelle and the Queen's (seen in 2011) unique relationship included 'sleepovers' at the Palace, gossiping, and breaking the 'rubbish' royal protocol more times together

Michelle and the Queen’s (seen in 2011) unique relationship included ‘sleepovers’ at the Palace, gossiping, and breaking the ‘rubbish’ royal protocol more times together 

In 2016, Her Majesty broke the rules again, when she asked the First Lady to sit next next to her in the car, despite Michelle being told by secret service that she was to sit in the front

In 2016, Her Majesty broke the rules again, when she asked the First Lady to sit next next to her in the car, despite Michelle being told by secret service that she was to sit in the front

In 2016, Her Majesty broke the rules again, when she asked the First Lady to sit next next to her in the car, despite Michelle being told by secret service that she was to sit in the front

After showing hesitation, Michelle revealed in her book that the Queen called the rules 'rubbish' and told her to sit 'wherever she wanted.' They are seen in 2016

After showing hesitation, Michelle revealed in her book that the Queen called the rules 'rubbish' and told her to sit 'wherever she wanted.' They are seen in 2016

After showing hesitation, Michelle revealed in her book that the Queen called the rules ‘rubbish’ and told her to sit ‘wherever she wanted.’ They are seen in 2016 

Barack, for his part, has also supported the Queen many times over the years, calling her a ‘gift’ to the world – and revealing that she reminded him of his own grandmother in a speech earlier this year.

‘When you’re president of the United States, you meet a lot of remarkable people, and you try under all circumstances to retain your composure,’ he said. ‘But that’s harder than you think when you’re visiting Her Majesty.’

Barack (seen with the Queen in 2011), for his part, has also supported the Queen many times over the years, calling her a 'gift' to the world - and revealing that she reminded him of his own grandmother in a speech earlier this year

Barack (seen with the Queen in 2011), for his part, has also supported the Queen many times over the years, calling her a 'gift' to the world - and revealing that she reminded him of his own grandmother in a speech earlier this year

Barack (seen with the Queen in 2011), for his part, has also supported the Queen many times over the years, calling her a ‘gift’ to the world – and revealing that she reminded him of his own grandmother in a speech earlier this year

The former President’s grandmother Madelyn Dunham helped raise Barack from the age of 10 while his mother was working in Indonesia; she passed away in 2008.

‘I like to think Her Majesty and I have formed a special relationship of our own,’ he continued in his speech about the Queen. 

‘Certainly, I can say that getting to know her was one of the great privileges of my years in office. And I learned so much from seeing the example she set for all of us who have the privilege to serve.’

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen, who ruled the nation for seven decades, had died ‘peacefully in her sleep’ this afternoon.

Her son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King; he will address the shocked nation imminently, as millions around the world grieve Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

All her children had rushed to Balmoral after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health this morning.

It has been said that she was surrounded by her family at the time of her death.

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