A breach of royal protocol was committed on Thursday in Australia when someone touched Prince William on his back. The violation was even caught by photographers, resulting in the image being published by major newspapers in their print and online editions.

The protocol violator was no less than Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who seemed to embrace Prince William while at the Parliament House on Thursday (https://twitter.com/search?q=tony%20abbott%20prince%20william&src=typd).

Harper's Bazaar posted the image on its Instagram feed, and the photo elicited 400 likes and dozens of comments from the online community. Some commented it was just a simple hug, while others found the PM's action awkward and inappropriate.

Royal protocol says that ordinary people should not touch members of the family, unless the royals initiate a gesture such as a handshake or speak to a royal, unless spoken to.

It was actually a second violation from Mr Abbott who had previously touched the prince on Manly Beach on Good Friday to guide him around the sand to meet local surf life savers.

Besides Mr Abbott, other political figures have broken that protocol several times such as in 2009 when U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama placed an arm around Queen Elizabeth's waist. But the Queen didn't seem to mind and even hugged Ms Obama back.

In 1992, then Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating caused a media frenzy in Britain when he was photographed placing his arm around the Queen, earning him the unflattering title Lizard of Oz.

Similar behaviour was made by Prime Minister John Howard in 2000, but he denied touching her even if there were photographs.

With his "loose" hands twice photographed holding the prince, Mr Abbott has earned the title Touchy Tony.