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Did Meghan Markle display a fake smile during an interaction with a royal aide involving flowers at a recent appearance? A body language expert analyzed the way Meghan smiled in the moment, explaining it wasn’t overly authentic but was appropriately polite for the circumstance.

Meghan Markle holding flowers during walkabout at Windsor Castle body language appeared rude to some royal watchers
Meghan Markle | KIRSTY O’CONNOR/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Body language expert looks at moment Meghan Markle refused flowers during walkabout appearance

On Sept. 10, Meghan received flowers during a walkabout appearance at Windsor Castle with Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton. Meghan appeared to refuse to give the bouquet to a royal aide who was collecting the flowers.

Behavioral analyst Spidey discussed the moment in a video on The Behavioral Arts YouTube channel. He looked at body language clues to determine if Meghan was actually rude, as many royal watchers believed her to be.

Spidey turned his focus to analyzing Meghan’s smile since many critics thought she displayed a fake smile when talking to the aide. He broke down what a Duchenne smile is and how it projects an authentic and happy expression, which wasn’t seen in Meghan’s smile.

“Yes, the term that’s being used is correct but the use of it is being misunderstood,” he explained. “So a lot of people are looking at it, going ‘Notice, look at her smile. It’s not a Duchenne smile … if it was real it would be a Duchenne smile.”

Body language expert explains the ‘Duchenne smile’

Spidey explained that a Duchenne smile is named after a “researcher who discovered the muscles that go into a genuine smile.”

The expert explained, “With a genuine smile, the corners of the mouth go upwards and the cheeks raise and they cause something called crow’s feet, which is small wrinkles on the sides of the eyes. So when we’re smiling out of actual joy or happiness, this is the kind of smile we see — it’s big smile, corners go up, cheeks are raised, and there’s wrinkling on the side of the eyes. This is called a Duchenne smile.”

Meghan didn’t display that type of smile, but Spidey points out it doesn’t mean she was being rude about the flowers.

“It’s not a Duchenne smile because we see the corners of the mouth are going more to the sides and we’re not seeing the cheeks raised, and we’re not seeing the crow’s feet on the eyes,” he said. “There is a pleasant look on her face but it’s not a Duchenne smile.”

The body language expert noted, “Here is where the massive misconception comes in that spreads like a wildfire on the internet. The opposite of a Duchenne smile isn’t necessarily a fake smile — it can just as easily be a polite smile.”

“Context is everything,” he added.


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Meghan Markle gave an appropriately polite smile about the flowers, expert says

Spidey went on to explain how Meghan’s smile was appropriate for the moment. “We all use polite smiles in day-to-day interactions,” he explained. “A polite smile doesn’t have to indicate immense amounts of joy.”

He continued, “So in this case, when she’s politely smiling to the aide, I don’t see a real smile nor would I expect to see a real smile. This isn’t a big, happy occasion that’s causing her joy. It remains a sad event, there’s a lot of stress, she’s trying to figure things out.”

Spidey noted, “So it’s perfectly normal for her to give a polite smile as she refuses and explains to him why she would rather hold onto the flowers.”

He added, “Is it true that that’s not a Duchenne smile? Yes. Does it mean that she’s being rude in any way? No, not based on that smile because that’s the exact kind of smile that we will almost always see in those situations and we all do it in our day-to-day lives.”

Spidey also pointed out Meghan’s body language showed she was being polite in the moment. “After the refusal, we see a curtsy bow,” he said. “She literally does that right at the end as she minimizes herself. And when we minimize ourselves, it’s an act of humility.”

When you thank someone, he pointed out, your hands may come together. “Her hands do come together and she does that curtsy bow as she looks at him, so this once again is a gesture of courtesy,” he added.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet acknowledges conditions and cultures can impact body language and is sensitive to all backgrounds.