By Charlotte Alter
December 10, 2014

To an American eye, there was nothing strange about a sweaty LeBron James putting his arm around Kate to pose for a photograph after his Cleveland Cavaliers played the Brooklyn Nets on Monday evening. To the British, though, merely touching the Duchess of Cambridge represents a serious breach in etiquette. Someone get some smelling salts!

While U.S. headlines cooed over the adorable mini-jersey James presented to Prince William and Kate, who were in New York as part of their three-day visit, British tabloids led with the fact that star basketball player inadvertently violated royal protocol. While the website of the Monarchy stipulates that “there are no obligatory codes of behavior” for meeting a member of the royal family, the more understood protocol is, well, don’t touch or speak to a royal unless you’re touched or spoken to first.

First Lady Michelle Obama broke this unofficial rule in 2009 when she put her arm around Queen Elizabeth II. The media went wild, but the Queen was cool with it, though, because Obama’s arms are amazing.

Read next: LeBron James Gave William and Kate a Cavaliers Jersey for Prince George

Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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