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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle looking off-camera and smiling. Harry wears a suit and tie and Meghan is wearing a white overcoat
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Body Language Expert Analyzes Difference Between Gesture Meghan Markle Uses on Prince Harry and When Prince William Uses the Same Gesture on Kate Middleton

A body language expert analyzed the way Meghan Markle uses one gesture toward Prince Harry and how it's misinterpreted. By comparison, Prince William does the same and isn't called controlling.

A body language expert shared her insights about the same gesture both Prince William and Meghan Markle use. When Meghan does it to Prince Harry, it’s often “misinterpreted’ as controlling, the expert said, while William’s gesture toward Kate Middleton is considered loving.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle looking off-camera and smiling. Harry wears a suit and tie and Meghan is wearing a white overcoat
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Body language expert compares Meghan Markle and Prince William’s use of the same gesture

Body language expert Judi James shared her thoughts with Express about how one common gesture both Prince William and Meghan have been spotted doing gets interpreted differently.

Prince William was seen putting his arm around Kate at a charity polo match and they also walked with their arms around each other at the event. Many royal fans loved seeing this moment between them.

When Meghan has put her arm around Harry in the past, however, many interpret it as being controlling.

“Command and control? How Meghan’s complex gesture to Harry has been misinterpreted as a negative,” James said. “When William places an arm around Kate he is seen as being affectionate.”

The expert noted, “Sometimes it will be Kate performing the gesture on him and the response tends to be the same. But when Meghan placed her arm around her husband in her signature gesture she is referred to as ‘controlling.’”

Expert says people think Meghan’s gesture is ‘controlling’

James went on to explain why Meghan putting her arm around her husband or placing a hand on his back is sometimes misread.

“So why the difference and what does each gesture really mean or signify about the relationship?” she asked. “William tends to place his arm around his wife’s waist. When he does that she often responds in kind, making this a linking gesture, like holding hands. It’s usually performed side by side and is a signal of affection.”

James noted that Harry and Meghan use the same gesture but “they tend to prefer the much more intimate PDA of the hand clasp.”

The body language expert also shared her analysis of Meghan and William placing a hand on their spouse’s back.

“When the arm encircles the waist there is no hand on the back to steer or control,” she pointed out. “When we do see William placing a hand on Kate’s back … it is more likely he is nudging her forward or steering her to move on.”

The expert explained how this gesture can indicate a nonverbal message about a relationship but can also provide a signal to the recipient.

“Meghan’s gesture in these poses entails a similar flattened hand on Harry’s back, which, like William’s version, would imply some form of tie-sign messaging and possibly steering,” she explained. “The Duchess of Sussex also seems to use it as a gesture of affection and reassurance, as though she’s letting Harry know where she is when he is talking to other people.”

James shared that the gesture shouldn’t “lead to an assumption that person is overall controlling in the relationship.”

Kate Middleton and Prince William, who engaged in PDA at a polo match, walk arm in arm
Kate Middleton and Prince William | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Audi UK

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Why Meghan Markle’s gesture ‘might have shocked’ some, according to a body language expert

James summed up why Meghan’s use of the gesture is “shocking” to some, whereas William’s use of the same nonverbal move is perceived differently.

“Meghan’s touches might have shocked anyone marinated in old-fashioned royal protocol, where it might have been expected that Harry would always take the lead and perform any steering gestures,” James explained.

“But Meghan is a grown woman with very healthy levels of confidence,” she continued. “When she married Harry, she married a man who was wary or even unhappy about posing for the press and who loved to be the joker at royal events and so he probably needed some encouragement gestures.”

Meghan appears to provide non-verbal support to her husband rather than trying to control him. “Meghan has always used two sets of signals with Harry: the signals of attraction and partnership affection and some subtly maternal signals too, offering reassurance and support when needed,” James explained.

“It was clearly part of the attraction for Harry and it broke the mold of royals tending to marry submissive and more diffident-looking partners,” she noted.

The body language expert concluded that while there may be an element of control in placing a hand on a spouse’s back, that doesn’t mean the person is controlling. “So, the gesture is technically one of control and affection but does not define an entire relationship as controlling,” James shared. “Like all couples, Harry and Meghan swap roles to suit the moment, as do William and Kate.”