In a phenomenon that was well-observed during the infamous Depp vs. Heard defamation trial, ‘body language experts’ have found the spotlight again with attention drawn to the royal family in recent weeks.
While British tabloids are notorious for dissecting every move made by the royal family, recent claims from these experts, who have received large platforms both online and in local print news, suggest everything from secret codes between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, to personal animosities between the latter and Kate Middleton, and even long-distance diagnoses of anxiety and other psychological issues.
How Firm Are The Claims?
To be fair, the first set of claims, which propose a unique ‘ritual’ between Harry and Meghan, aren’t particularly unreasonable. With plenty of cameras on them during public appearances, it can be hard for a couple to communicate their feelings and needs to each other — with the royal family in particular having a series of codes to signal stress, irritation, and other cues.
According to body language expert and author Judi James, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do so via touch — which is why they are often spotted holding hands. “Meghan and Harry’s hand-hold ritual enables them to communicate quite complex messages to one another silently and without the need for eye contact.”
“It is clearly a vital gesture for them, as we saw the immediate re-bonding yesterday at the end of a very emotional service,” continued James, referring to the royal funeral procession. “The hand clasp sends a social message of close bonding but it also sends an intrapersonal message to the couple themselves, allowing them to feel inwardly secure in a loving team of two.”
“Sometimes they use the clasp in the way that celebrities tend to, with Meghan walking slightly behind while Harry places his hand on top in a signal of being in control of that particular situation.”
Apart from celebrity couples such as the Beckhams, who have been known to signal each other this way, even the late Queen was famous for such nonverbal signals to her attendants. Ex-President Barack Obama’s Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall even shared some of these details with People, claiming that the Queen’s bag position was a subtle reference for whether she was enjoying a conversation, or wishing to be interrupted as a getaway card.
On the other hand, Prince William and Kate have what James described as a ‘bland’ style — the couple is rarely seen behaving as ‘cute’ as Harry and Meghan are. This, however, falls in tandem with their role as British Monarchy representatives — as statespeople, it would make sense for the pair to show less PDA, as it were.
Taking It Too Far?
While discussing secret signals is somewhat harmless, there’s something to be said for the media’s overbearing scrutiny of Meghan and Kate — with some outlets seemingly out to pit the pair against each other.
Another expert named Katia Loisal appeared on national news channel Seven News, claiming that Kate attacked her sister-in-law with an ‘icy stare’, which would have intimidated Meghan.
‘Quite unlike the confident Meghan we know, Meghan appeared ill at ease during this encounter, which is not surprising given the recent criticism that she has faced,’ Katia told Seven News.
I mean, well… you can judge for yourself:
One day satan going to deal with Kate Middleton. This woman hates Meghan and had be pulled into being in the same space pic.twitter.com/iooEBItfeg
— Thando – Ntsikasaunty (@ntsikasaunty) September 10, 2022
It’s all too reminiscent of the Heard case — taking everything from nods, eye contact, and blinking rates into account, and developing ideas of what a person may be thinking and feeling. While I don’t doubt that there’s a certain science and art to be able to read body language… is this really the best way to use it?
Again, like Heard’s case, there’s a socio-political element at play here — with those scrutinizing Heard’s behavior simultaneously affirming their beliefs and biases on domestic violence, while Meghan’s whistleblowing of the royal family also deeply politicizes the way people view her actions and moods.
Unlike most royal figures, Meghan was consistently political throughout her life, campaigning against the Gulf War as a child, supporting Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US elections, and sharing disappointment towards Brexit — all before her famous tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, which blew the whistle on internalized sexism, racism, and other issues within the royal family. This led to several accusations from the likes of Piers Morgan, who called the ex-actress untrustworthy and accused her of betraying the royal family.
Since then, interactions have naturally been strained between both parties, and Meghan had little to say during her public appearance alongside the current working royals. This also echoed a darker undertone on social media, where the Duchess is currently being ripped apart by several vile comments — many of which were markedly racist.
So, continuing a witch-hunt against Meghan by taking every action into account, and picking it apart in front of the world?
Seems in bad taste alright — and certainly doesn’t happen to the men involved.
Lead Image: PA