Members of the royal family seem to spend half their lives being photographed, so naturally they’re a dream for body language experts. And the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle gave the aforementioned experts a chance to analyze the happy couple like never before – with the results being both interesting and perhaps more than a little surprising.
Harry and Meghan’s relationship has arguably shaken up the British royal family in a good way. For starters, they’ve seemingly made it clear from the offset that they’re a modern couple and therefore very unlikely to do things in a reserved or stuffy manner. Take the pair’s 2017 engagement photos, for example. The snaps showed them smiling happily together, which made the images appear to be a far cry from the more formal royal engagement pictures of the past.
In fact, the engagement photos were almost sexy – a concept that would have been unthinkable for royals a few decades ago. And the snaps were certainly ripe for interpretation from body language experts. “Here, Prince Harry uses his legs as a shield around his lady and sends a silent message that he’ll protect her from the world,” expert Blanca Cobb explained to Good Housekeeping of one of the pictures, which featured Meghan in a strategically positioned sheer dress.
Another of the photos was an artistic black-and-white close-up of the pair smiling happily. “Meghan is touching Prince Harry’s chin, which signifies an emotional closeness that you’d expect between lovers,” Cobb added. “With their eyes closed, they’re blocking out the world and enjoying their special moment.”
However, Harry and Meghan couldn’t block out the world for long with a wedding on the horizon. After all, thanks to the TV cameras broadcasting the events of the big day, the whole planet was essentially invited to watch the couple tie the knot on May 19, 2018. And, as it happens, an estimated 1.9 billion saw Meghan and Harry become husband and wife.
Many pairs of eyes were on the bride and groom, then, as the happy couple’s ceremony took place. But there was one moment of the ceremony that had previously prompted some speculation. As Meghan’s father had pulled out of the wedding just days before it was due to take place, how would she react to his absence? Well, body language expert Judi James spoke to the Daily Express after the wedding to give her own interpretation of Meghan’s feelings during the occasion.
James said, “It was hugely significant that Meghan arrived and walked in alone, as her body language signals throughout defined her as confident, poised and supremely happy.” She added, however, “There were no suppressed signals of regret over [Meghan’s] missing father.”
But that wasn’t all that James had to reveal. She went on, “Even for an actress, Meghan’s poise was formidable. Her back was upright and her hands – the usual giveaway of masked nerves – were still, even when her free hand was hanging at her side. [Meghan] may have been the first royal bride to bathe her groom in beautiful, undiluted eye contact throughout his vows.”
According to James, though, Harry wasn’t quite as relaxed. “Harry, on the other hand, showed signals that suggested the highest levels of happy anxiety,” the body language expert continued. “Normally the prankster at other royal weddings, he looked felled by love and nerves. He’d performed 12 self-check touches within a few paces of his car on arrival: pulling at his gloves, wringing his hands and tugging at his frock coat.” But considering the occasion, that was all very understandable.
Then, after the celebrations were done, the royal wedding photographs were released. And, naturally, these snaps were an absolute goldmine for body language analysts too. Snapped by Alexi Lubomirski just after the ceremony, the photos showed the happy couple, their guests and their family in more formal positions and settings.
And among their number was a picture that was strikingly similar in appearance to one of the engagement photos. In it, Harry and Meghan lay on the steps of Windsor Castle, looking very loved-up indeed. “It is very sexy and flirty. She is sitting between his legs on the step below him. They clearly adore one another, and it looks like a luxury perfume advert,” James would go on to tell the Daily Mail.
By contrast, the group pictures were more formal – so much so, in fact, that they alarmed James herself. “I was actually quite surprised [about the group photos], because we have just watched a wedding that was very different. Everything about it was informal, producing some change in the formality and the proceedings of the royal family,” James said.
Indeed, Harry and Meghan’s ceremony had been full of changes to the royal norm. Bishop Michael Curry had delivered a sermon that was much more upbeat than those typically seen at royal weddings. A gospel choir had also performed. And even the cake was non-traditional; it was a lemon and elderflower confection served in three parts rather than a tiered fruitcake.
Furthermore, James noted something quite surprising in the photo of the couple with their pageboys and bridesmaids. She revealed, “In the other shot with the children, I am surprised that Meghan is at her husband’s feet very quickly after she walked into the church by herself. She’s down at the feet of the man she loves, though it is slightly submissive.”
James also suggested to the Daily Express that the photographs seemed to indicate that “royal order and formality was restored once the family party chose their official record of the day.” Perhaps, then, given that the Queen and senior royals were present, any fun had to be put on the backburner. “Historically, there is scope for a royal wedding portrait to be fun and slightly spontaneous,” James continued. “But the group shots chosen here present a much more regal slant to the wedding.”
And James did also raise an eyebrow at how Meghan was posed in a couple of the pictures. “I’m surprised to see the feminist bride sitting submissively at her new husband’s feet in two of the shots,” the body language analyst said of Meghan to the Daily Express. However, Meghan has made no indication that she intends to drop her feminist activism now that she’s married. Furthermore, her biography on the royal family’s official website states that she is “proud to be a woman and a feminist.”
In addition, James took note of how Meghan acted around her mother, Doria Ragland. “Meghan’s torso is turned towards her mother, who is very close to her in the picture. They are a close double act, which is so good to see,” she told the Daily Mail. “A lot of people were very worried her mother was sitting alone and isolated in the service, so it is very tangible that her mother is important here.”
However, Meghan and Harry weren’t James’ sole focus, as she also scrutinized other royal family members seen in the photographs. “William is towering above everyone else and is very dominant,” James added to the Daily Mail. “And though Charles is due to take over, he has an endearing sheepish grin on his face, and William seems to have a higher level of status.”
James additionally mentioned the person currently on the throne. “It is great to see the Queen and Philip grinning. She didn’t smile much during the service, and she doesn’t smile in church, but you can see the delight on her face,” she said. As for Prince Philip, who had had an operation the month before the wedding? Well, James remarked, “Phil has just adopted a dashing, manly pose, which is really good to see.”
But now that their courtship and wedding is over, Harry and Meghan have their married life to look forward to. And they’re already busy, having attended both Trooping the Colour and Royal Ascot in 2018. What’s more, there will undoubtedly be lots more great photos of the couple to come – and for body language enthusiasts to interpret.