British-Indian actor Kunal Nayyar, best known as astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali of The Big Bang Theory, nearly suffered a panic attack while meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time.
Nayyar fessed up to the embarrassing moment during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017. “We went to London to meet the queen, and I was playing it off as if ‘whatever,'” he said. “I was actually very, very nervous inside.”
During what was supposed to be a professional trip to commemorate the beginning of the UK-India Year of Culture in 2017, the cat got the star’s tongue. Once her majesty was in front of the actor, he admits he lost all composure. “As soon as she enters, I begin to have the worst panic attack of my life. I start thinking: ‘Oh, there’s the queen. I’m going to faint. Why am I going to faint? I’ve never fainted in my life,'” Nayyar recalled. “I started to have this huge conversation with myself about not fainting.” After that, it’s sort of a blur.
Kunal Nayyar isn't the first star to loose his cool with the queen
On The Big Bang Theory, Kunal Nayyar plays Raj Koothrappali, a socially awkward astrophysicist who sometimes goes mute when trying to talk to women. It appears that the actor’s experience with the Queen of England is a case of life imitating art. He told The Ellen DeGeneres Show that he can’t even remember if he bowed or curtsied when Queen Elizabeth extended her hand to him during introductions in 2017. “I just shook her hand, bowed my head and said thank you so much for inviting us,” he said, per Hello! magazine. Talk about a deer in headlights!
Lucky for Nayyar, he’s not the only celebrity to have experienced an awkward encounter when meeting Her Royal Highness. In 2009, former first lady Michelle “broke royal protocol by doing the unthinkable: she gave the Queen a hug,” reported The Guardian. “The monarch, for her part, responded with equally flagrant disregard for convention by returning the gesture.” Phew!
If that’s not bad enough, Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney threw royal etiquette out the window when he planted a kiss on the queen’s royal hand upon meeting her in 2007. Again, the queen graciously accepted the public display of affection, with her signature white gloves on, of course.
Nayyar, it appears you’re in good company.
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