Kate Middleton and Prince William attended a charity polo match in Windsor last week. The Duke of Cambridge occasionally put his arm around his wife as they walked together. This is a similar pose to the one Meghan Markle often performs with her husband, Prince Harry.
The Duchess of Sussex could be seen at the Platinum Jubilee placing her arm on Harry’s back as they walked side by side.
William’s arm around Kate was received positively on social media as “protective” and “cute”, whereas Meghan’s gesture was often deemed “controlling”.
Body language expert Judi James spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk to explain why Meghan’s gestures in particular have been “misinterpreted”.
Judi said: “Command and control? How Meghan’s complex gesture to Harry has been misinterpreted as a negative.
“When William places an arm around Kate he is seen as being affectionate.
“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’.
“So why the difference and what does each gesture really mean or signify about the relationship?” the expert asked.
Judi opined: “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. It’s a gesture Harry and Meghan also use a lot too, although they tend to prefer the much more intimate PDA of the hand clasp.
“When the arm encircles the waist there is no hand on the back to steer or control. When we do see William placing a hand on Kate’s back, as he does in this photo where she is in the lace-backed dress, it is more likely he is nudging her forward or steering her to move on.
“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.
“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.
“When both William and Meghan use this form of signalling it could be referred to as a gesture of control but that doesn’t lead to an assumption that person is overall controlling in the relationship,” Judi added.
Why was Meghan’s body language so “shocking” to many?
Judi claimed: “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.
“But Meghan is a grown woman with very healthy levels of confidence. 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 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.
“It was clearly part of the attraction for Harry, and it broke the mould of royals tending to marry submissive and more diffident-looking partners.
“So, the gesture is technically one of control and affection but does not define an entire relationship as controlling. Like all couples, Harry and Meghan swap roles to suit the moment, as do William and Kate.”