The squirm-inducing scene took place at state dinner hosted by Her Majesty the Queen for President and Mrs. Obama. And we got to watch it live on television.  

“Ladies and gentlemen, please stand with me and raise your glasses as I propose a toast,” the president said. So far, so good. Then, in what would otherwise be the international symbol for “strike up the band,” Obama put his note cards down, raised his glass and said, “To her majesty the Queen.” Having the rest of Obama’s toast supported by “God Save the Queen” was rather dramatic, especially when he said, “this earth, this realm, this England.” The reaction of Queen Elizabeth II when he raises his glass to her was priceless.

There are several lessons for us all here. First, no pauses during toasts lest you get cut off by the band or rowdy guests. Next, if the band does start playing or the rowdy guests become more audible than your toast, repeatedly tap an eating utensil on a glass until the peeps pipe down. But if the ditty the band is playing is a national anthem, you are the one who should go mum out of respect for the anthem and that nation. Luckily, the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain is strong enough to withstand this minor — and hilariously awkward — breach of protocol.