Angela Merkel's Handshake Has No Poker Face

We wouldn't have noticed if Trump hadn't refused to shake her hand. But once you've seen it, you can't unsee it.

This is the moment that started it all. Angela Merkel. Donald Trump. The Oval Office.

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You remember. The two most important leaders in the Western world meet. One pouts, and refuses to shake the other's hand. Gasps ring out. Ink is spilled.

When it comes to extending a hand in the socially accepted fashion of demonstrating you're not, like, hiding a weapon — it's as if Merkel shows her innermost ~feelings~ with a handshake.

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Sometimes, handshakes are delightful!

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Or maybe King Philippe of Belgium just tells really, really good jokes.

They can leave you slightly giddy.

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Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven got Merkel beaming with his grip.

Sometimes they're about playing nice.

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Merkel has practiced her "making peace" handshake on domestic political opponents and less-than-beloved foreign leaders, and she broke it out onstage with Ivanka Trump at a women's economic summit in Berlin in April.

Merkel even plays nice with non-humans.

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No beating heart? No problem!

Some Merkel handshakes are a warning.

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Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in 2014. Icy.

Although two can play at that game, apparently.

Meeting with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

We're...not totally sure what this particular Merkel handshake is all about.

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Is that a half-curtsey towards Chinese President Xi Jinping? Tough to tell.

But there's a work hazard in every handshake if you're a woman – even with dudes you mostly like, like former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

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There's that moment when things go from normal-friendly-handshake thing —

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Being a female leader in Europe, you're always at risk of dudes getting up in your space.

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That's Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, a major body of the European Union, saying goodbye to Merkel.

Sometimes, it's just ~culture~.

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Merkel between the traditional two pecks with French President François Hollande, who's on his way out in an election on Sunday.

And sometimes, it's that "no seriously, I have to touch you to make you understand" thing dudes do to women.

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Even women who are among Europe's longest-running and most powerful democratic leaders, turns out.

The sheer gauntlet of it all! SAD!

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In nearly 12 years as Germany's chancellor, Merkel's had a lot of handshakes.

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Here's a real-world-meets-virtual-world handshake on Barack Obama's last visit.

Some look, today, like they were from such a simpler time.

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Some — like this one with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in February — look like the painful compromise they will probably always be.

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The inescapable inevitability of it all.

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But none will ring as loudly around the world as this. Oh, close!

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Trump and Merkel's hands finally publicly approached each other at a press conference at the White House in March.

So very close....

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There it is.

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And there were never any problems between the two of them again.


Angela Merkel is shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. An earlier post mistakenly referred to him as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, due to an error in the photo's captions.