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Millions of people tuned in to watch King Charles III‘s coronation on May 6. The grand ceremony was to officially crown Britain’s monarch, something that hasn’t been done in 70 years. But some were confused by the king’s expression and demeanor throughout the ceremony as they were expecting him to be a little more upbeat considering he’s waited most of his life for this moment.

Here’s what a body language expert noticed and believes is the reason Charles did not crack a smile during his coronation.

King Charles III, who did not look happy during his coronation, stands after being crowned in Westminster Abbey
King Charles III stands after being crowned during his coronation at Westminster Abbey | Richard Pohle – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Body language expert breaks down why King Charles did not look happy

Author and body language expert Judi James analyzed footage of the king during his coronation and picked up on why he didn’t look happy. James observed Charles appearing “tense and rather bashful” as he walked up the aisle of Westminster Abbey at the start of the ceremony indicating that he was a bit nervous.

According to James: “His facial expression did soften and relax a little as he saw friendly faces he recognized but he clearly braced himself first by sucking in his lower lip and tapping his fingers together, with a gentle and constant rubbing of his fingers over the golden knot in his regalia continuing the entire walk.”

The expert explained that Charles looked surprisingly vulnerable showing signals of “defined anxiety” and “a desire to lower his status slightly rather than raise it regally.”

She continued: “He looked like a man unwilling to be elevated away from the public and away from the people he loves to surround himself with. From the self-comfort thumb rubbing to the way he constantly played with and rubbed the knot in his golden belt. At times he looked in danger of being overwhelmed by emotion.”

When fans finally saw King Charles smile

 King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave from The Buckingham Palace balcony following coronation
King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave to the crowds below from the Buckingham Palace balcony following their coronation | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

James added that the king’s facial expression did change ever so slightly to show gratitude and affection after his oldest son, Prince William, pledged to be his “liege man of life and limb” and kissed his father on the cheek.

But the moment royal watchers saw Charles really smile that day was when he appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Perhaps any nerves he had were gone at that point with the ceremony behind him as he and Queen Camilla both appeared much more relaxed as they waved to the thousands of people who filled the streets below.

Charles also gave the world a preview of what his “slimmed-down monarchy” looks like as he was joined on the balcony by working members of the royal family including the Prince of Wales and Princess of Wales (formerly known as Kate Middleton), their three children, his sister Princess Anne, and his brother Prince Edward and the Duchess of Edinburgh (formerly known as Sophie, Countess of Wessex).  

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