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A royal hug made headlines when Queen Elizabeth visited DC in 1991

Former DC mayor Sharon Pratt remembers the hug that grabbed headlines between Queen Elizabeth II and Alice Frazier.

WASHINGTON — While most of her D.C. visits were no doubt to see dignitaries there was at least one royal visit to the District when Queen Elizabeth II got to meet some life-long residents. 

During her 1991 visit, Queen Elizabeth II toured a Southeast neighborhood trying to make a turnaround. 

"It was a very full day," recalled then-Mayor Sharon Pratt who accompanied Her Majesty around the District that day.

"She was so natural, so accessible," said Pratt of the queen. 

But some things were off limits.

"Everybody had been briefed. I mean, the White House, everyone, the protocol offices, 'you can't do this, you can't shake the queen's hand unless she extends it. She's never to eat in public,'" Pratt said as she recalled the etiquette surrounding the queen's visit. 

"Obviously, they hadn't briefed Alice," Pratt said with a chuckle. 

Alice Frazier was a proud new home owner on Drake Place Southeast who was eager, Pratt remembers, to welcome the queen into her home. 

"She might come in here, I might shake her hand, might give her a hug," Frazier told WUSA9 ahead of the 1991 visit. 

And Pratt recalls Frazier did just that. 

Frazier's daughter, Betty Queen, who shook the Queen's hand just before her mother embraced her, remembered the visit on Friday. "My mother just hugged her," she said. "Everybody's eyes got big. They were surprised!" she said.

"Queen Elizabeth comes in and Alice says, 'Now you got to eat,'" she said.

"Well, the queen isn't supposed to eat. Alice goes, 'But I've been up all night. I've got fried chicken, fried potato salad.'" Pratt recalled her telling the queen. "And then people were telling Alice, 'you can't do that, you can't do that.'"

But Alice did. In WUSA9 archival footage you can see her lean in and hug the queen -- something that wasn't supposed to happen according to royal tradition.  

The greeting that broke protocol, and if it had happened today, might have broken the internet. 

It was the hug heard round the world. Royal watchers were aghast with a photo of the hug headlining papers across the pond. Pratt remembers the queen was receptive. 

"She was nice and pleasant," said Betty Queen about Queen Elizabeth. As for her mother, "She was a hugger." Her daughter said she wrapped her arms around everybody.

"Alice didn't do it to be forward. She did it because she was just happy and innocent and enthusiastic. And Queen Elizabeth received it that way. You know, she was quite a lovely person," said Pratt, who made that judgment first on the brief but personal exchange she had with queen earlier that day. 

Frazier's daughter said the Queen and then First Lady Barbara Bush missed out on some pretty special food. Fried chicken and potato salad were her favorite recipes.

"She was so natural, so accessible," Pratt said. "She began the conversation with me, asking about my grandmother, who was quite ill at the time, and I know she'd been briefed on how that process works. But she was so engaged, you know, she always gave you her attention," Pratt said. "And, I think that's what made her so special."

A genuineness she said, that the queen shared with Alice Frazier. 

"The genuineness, absolutely. I think that was a connecting link, because that is the quality that you walked away saying about Queen Elizabeth. And it absolutely was the quality of Alice Fraser," said Pratt. "Alice Frazier was the treat of the day."

Frazier's daughter said she always remembered her brush with majesty. "It meant a whole lot to my mom. She was on Cloud 9 for a whole week," Betty Queen said.

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