King Charles Had to ‘Steel Himself’ Stepping in for Queen Elizabeth at an Important Event

Before officially becoming the leader of the British royal family, King Charles III got a taste of what it would be like. He stood in for Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of Parliament. A body language expert, the king began the occasion with “bravado” and ended with “nervousness.” 

King Charles stood in for Queen Elizabeth at the May 2022 UK Parliament opening 

King Charles, who appeared to 'steel himself' as he opened parliament in Queen Elizabeth's place in May 2022, according to a body language expert, looks on as he arrives to formally open parliament
King Charles | Hannah McKay/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

In May 2022, the king stepped in for Queen Elizabeth in a big way. Still the Prince of Wales at the time, the king opened Parliament. He attended the official State Opening of Parliament after Buckingham Palace announced the queen wouldn’t go due to ongoing mobility issues.

According to body language expert Judi James, the king seemed to take the lead at the opening of Parliament. 

“For his first formal assumption of the queen’s role Charles arrived full of what looked like bravado,” she said (via Daily Mail) He used “one hand to steer and direct his hosts and his rather anxious-looking wife [Camilla Parker Bowles] into the building and smiling and chatting in the foyer.”

However, once inside with the official opening of Parliament underway, the king’s body language seemed to take a turn.

King Charles appeared to be ‘bracing himself for what was to come’ as he opened Parliament in Queen Elizabeth’s place, according to expert


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James continued, zeroing in on the king’s, perhaps, less confident body language.  

“Then came a moment when he seemed to steel himself to walk in his mother’s footsteps,” she said. The now-74-year-old “breathed in air and he jutted his lower jaw with a small side-to-side wobble as though bracing himself for what was to come.”

The expert also pointed out how the king looked “isolated” from his wife and son, Prince William. 

“He barely, if ever, glanced at Camilla and his son William walked some paces behind him, emphasizing the air of this being a rather isolated appearance,” she said. 

Walking toward the “throne room” James noted how the king’s “head seemed to jerk up slightly as though just seeing either the room or the dais with the empty gap where his mother’s throne would be.”

King Charles’ ‘nervousness’ at the Parliament opening most ‘obvious’ when he delivered Queen Elizabeth’s speech, expert says

The king is known to enjoy public speaking. Camilla once went so far as to say he “loves it.” Although standing in for the queen at the opening of Parliament may not have been fun for him. 

“It was when Charles read the queen’s speech that his nervousness appeared more obvious,” James said. “The pages of the speech itself seemed to flap throughout” and it looked as though his “hands were shaking.” 

He also had what looked like a “reflective” expression on his face as sat on his “‘Consort’ throne” with his eyes seemingly fixed “on the crown in front of him.” 

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