A body language expert says Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, displayed a distinct “lack of affection” during Queen Elizabeth’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
That’s in contrast to their protocol-breaking hand-holding at the Queen’s lying in state service last Wednesday, which garnered global headlines when some critics described it as “inappropriate”.
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Perhaps as a result of that criticism, and in a sign of the formality of the occasion, there was no hand-holding at Monday’s funeral.
“In keeping with the seriousness of the occasion and a show of respect, Prince Harry and Meghan forewent their signature hand clasp in favor of a formal distance, walking side by side behind Prince William, Princess Kate, Charlotte and George,” body language expert and connection specialist Katia Loisel told 7Life.
“Whilst most in the procession walked with arms by their side, a sombre Meghan kept her head bowed, eyes downcast and hands clasped in front, in a self-protective gesture indicating a level of discomfort or uncertainty, and perhaps as a sign of respect .”
Once seated, Loisel said the lack of visible or demonstrable affection between the normally “affectionate and tactile” Harry and Meghan continued.
“It was interesting to note the lack of affection and mutual touch between Prince Harry and Meghan,” she said.
“Whilst we see some postural echoing between the pair on a couple of occasions, their bodies oriented towards one another, for the most part they appeared to avoid contact tie signs such as their signature hand holds in favor of a more formal distance, perhaps as a show of respect or in response to recent criticism,” she observed.
She added that while Harry and William managed to maintain their composure during the foot procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, once inside the church, their demeanor changed.
“Clearly pained and distraught, the brothers fought back tears in an attempt to hold it together,” she said.
“Their slightly downturned mouths, compressed lips, furrowed brows, droopy eyelids, downcast eyes, eye blocks, heightened blink rate and swallowing indicate genuine sadness and distress.”
Loisel said King Charles, usually “emotionally reserved,” was “clearly grief-stricken.”
During the service, she noted his rhythmic “rocking” backwards and forwards and rubbing the top of his sword with his thumb, both “pacifying” and “self-soothing” gestures used when emotionally distressed.
“Rocking is often seen in times of high psychological distress and is an effective way of reducing anxiety and tension, promoting a sense of calm through stimulation of the balance center,” she said, noting that Harry and William also used rhythmic rocking movements during the funeral service.