Former First Lady MICHELE OBAMA tells us how life after the White House has led to a new chapter in her marriage
TELLS HOW LIFE AFTER THE WHITE HOUSE HAS LED TO A NEW CHAPTER IN HER MARRIAGE
When Michelle Obama visits London next month as part of her book tour, she is likely to receive a welcome more befitting royalty or a pop star. Despite leaving the White House almost two years ago with her husband, former US President Barack Obama, it’s clear that the former First Lady has lost none of her pulling power.
The announcement that she will be spending three days in the English capital, where she will appear at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall to talk about her memoir Becoming, triggered an internet frenzy. Some 60,000 people attempted to purchase one of the 2,700 tickets, which sold out within minutes. A handful of tickets then appeared for resale on the internet for as much as AED338,340 [US$92,110].
In Brixton, south London, a 30ft-high mural of Michelle, commissioned by her publishers, now graces a wall beside a Marks & Spencer store.
BACK TO REALITY
While in the UK, Michelle will also catch up with the British-based friends she grew close to during the eight years her husband was in office. George and Amal Clooney are said to be hosting a dinner for her at their home in Oxfordshire, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also in attendance.
The buzz surrounding her visit shows her global influence is as strong as ever, as is her passion for making the world a better place.
That said, she is embracing her life away from the spotlight and the freedoms it brings, including living in her own home without staff or White House-level security.
“It’s the first regular house, with a door and a doorbell, I have had in about eight years,” she told American talk show host Oprah Winfrey in an
“Barack and I have chunks of time where it’s just us – what we were when we started this thing”
event in Chicago to kick off the book tour.
“As First Lady, you’re not alone much. There are people in the house always, there are men standing guard. There is a house full of Swat people, and you can’t open your windows or walk outside without causing a fuss.”
Over the past 22 months, Michelle has been able to reconnect with her husband and their two daughters. She and Barack have even enjoyed holidays alone together – something that was impossible a few years ago.
“We are finding each other again,” she said in an interview earlier this month. “We have dinners alone and chunks of time where it’s just us – what we were when we started this thing: no kids, no publicity, no nothing. Just us and our dreams.”
Holidays aside, Michelle is as busy as ever fighting for her beliefs. Last month she launched the Global Girls Alliance, a programme run by the Obama Foundation to support access to education for millions of teenage girls worldwide.
“While times change and I may no longer live in the White House, I have no intention of walking away from these girls,” she said last year when talking about her work.
She also continues to campaign for better nutrition in American schools to tackle childhood obesity, and for tech companies to make more room in their ranks for women. And in September, she was back on the campaign trail with her husband, rallying Americans to vote in the mid-term elections.
Michelle’s memoir gives a fascinating insight into how she rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most famous women in the world.
The daughter of a water-plant worker and a secretary, she grew up in Chicago’s South Side, where her family lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of her great aunt’s house.
A high achiever at school, she won a
“As First Lady you’re not alone much… you can’t open your windows or walk outside without causing a fuss”
place at the prestigious Princeton University, then went to Harvard Law School before joining a corporate law firm, where she was assigned to mentor another young lawyer – Barack Obama.
She recounts how he proposed to her in the middle of an argument about marriage by dropping to one knee, having arranged for a waiter to present her with a diamond ring on a domed platter.
“Well, that should shut you up,” he told her as the other diners clapped.
Their time in the White House saw Michelle travel the world with her husband, meeting leaders and royalty. They visited the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace in 2016, where they famously chatted to Prince George in his dressing gown.
And in 2009, Michelle bonded with the Queen over their sore feet, putting her arm around Her Majesty – a protocol breach that raised eyebrows.
Describing them as “two tired ladies oppressed by their shoes”, Michelle writes in her memoir: “I did what’s instinctive to me any time I feel connected to a new person.”
FIRST AMONG EQUALS
Michelle became a fashion icon, too, regularly appearing on best-dressed lists and sparking a “Michelle effect”, with labels reporting a spike in sales whenever she wore their clothes.
But there were difficult times, too, and she reveals in her memoir that she and
Barack turned to IVF fertility treatment to conceive their daughters Malia, now 20, and
She also tells how the couple had counselling to deal with the effect Barack’s job was having on their marriage, frankly stating:
“I feel vulnerable all the time.”
An outspoken critic of Barack’s successor President Donald Trump, Michelle has fended off speculation that she might run for the White House herself in 2020.
It’s an intriguing idea – especially since, when she was put head to head with Donald Trump in a Zogby Analytics poll in May, her approval rating was 48% compared to the Republican’s 39%. But it seems unlikely that she will become America’s first female President.
“I’ve never had a passion for politics,” she says. “I just happened to be married to somebody who has the passion for politics, and he dragged me kicking and screaming into the arena.”
“I’ve never had a passion for politics. I just happened to be married to somebody who has”
Michelle, pictured with her husband, former US President, Barack Obama is enjoying time away from the spotlight and being able to reconnect with her family
Michelle talks about their struggle to conceive and how they have IVF to thank for their daughters Malia and Sasha (above in 2015, with their parents and family dogs Sunny and Bo). In her memoir, Michelle reflects on her education (far left, on graduation day), her relationship with Barack (left, at their wedding), and meeting royalty (below, at Kensington Palace in 2016, and below right, with the Queen in 2009)