Prince William and wife Kate Middleton were “highly distressed” at Westminster Hall on Wednesday during the lying-in-state ceremony for Queen Elizabeth, according to a body language expert.
Pictures from the sombre ceremony showed William with tightly pursed lips and Kate showing signs of stress and strain.
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“It’s evident that Prince William and Princess Kate are feeling highly distressed,” said body language expert and connection specialist Katia Loisel of particularly one telling photograph (pictured below).
“Their slightly lowered heads, use of protective arm barriers, furrowed brows, tension in the neck and mouth and tightly compressed lips indicating a couple who are trying to hold it all in,” she said.
“Compressed lips are reliable indicators of negative emotion.
“The more pronounced the lip compression, as is the case with Prince William – his lips pressed together, rolling inwards until they have completely disappeared – indicate extreme levels of discomfort and stress.”
Another photo shows Prince William with his head down while behind him and Kate, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan look at each other.
“This photo is interesting from a nonverbal perspective, highlighting the differences between the two couples,” Loisel said.
“Prince Harry and Meghan use both contact tie signs, such as holding hands, and non-contact tie signs, such as postural echoing, their bodies oriented inwards towards one another, and mutual gaze in a mutual display of support and reassurance.
“In contrast, clearly grief knitting and lost in their own thoughts, Prince William and Princess Kate keep a formal distance, in keeping with the the formality and seriousness of the event, and Prince William’s position as heir to the throne.”
The differences between the two couples were highlighted again by the fact that inside Westminster Hall, Harry and Meghan held hands, while William and Kate did not.
Loisel said that for most of the ceremony, William and Kate tried to maintain a “poker face” in order to “mask their pain”.
But as they left the hall, they looked distressed, Loisel said.
“Whilst normally less emotionally expressive than Prince Harry and Meghan, it was clear that Prince William and Princess Kate were struggling to hold it together,” she said.
“On the verge of tears, Kate appears distressed, walking eyes forward and slightly downcast, face lacking in muscle tone, her lips slightly compressed, blinking rapidly and swallowing, suggesting an attempt to hold off tears.
“Likewise Prince William’s facial expression is one of sadness, the inner corners of his eyebrows pulled up and together, upper lids droopy, lips compressed and mouth corners of the mouth slightly lowered.”
Loisel said the procession and arrival into Westminster was highly choreographed and formal, as befitted such a serious occasion.
“Whilst Prince Harry and Meghan broke the formality towards the end of the procession by drawing together and holding hands, they weren’t the only ones to do so, with Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall also holding hands throughout the procession,” she noted.
Loisel described Harry and Meghan as clearly an “affectionate and tactile couple”.
“Whilst Prince Harry and Meghan held a more formal distance throughout much of the procession, as the procession moved out the couple quickly reconnected, arms extended, non-verbally seeking each other out, reflecting a desire to connect and be close to one another, she said.
“Their hands were clasped, palms connected with fingers intertwined in an intimate gesture that provides both support and reassurance.
”Holding hands is correlated with a reduction in stress levels and that seems evident here.
“Prince Harry, whose heightened blink rate, lowered head, shifting of his weight, swaying, use of pacifying gestures, lip licking and swallowing was indicative of someone in distress, appeared visibly more relaxed after reconnecting physically with Meghan.”
William and Kate kept a more formal distance, which Loisel said was “reflective of their roles and the seriousness of the occasion”.
Meghan seemed to have recovered some of her composition after showing signs of discomfort at Windsor Castle on Sunday, where the former ‘Fab Four’ met with mourners outside Windsor Castle.
“Prince Harry leads the way, his hand over hers, Meghan falling ever slightly behind, allowing him to lead,” Loisel said.
“Meghan appears to have regained her composure after the reunion last week, in which she appeared ill at ease, adopting a more confident pose and a subtle expression of sadness and empathy.”