Times The Royals Broke Character And Famously Showed Their True Feelings

With all the importance of being a royal comes hawk-eyed public scrutiny. The British monarchy is subjected to constant investigation through the roving lens of netizens who never tire of dissecting every action, reaction, expression, and emotion that the family exhibits. If Catherine, Princess of Wales ever inexplicably lifts an eyebrow, it's not too far-fetched to believe that a snap of it might make the front page with in-depth expert analysis. In fact, the British royal family can't even get through a christening without their facial manners being inspected: "Prince William gives off this 'photos ... now ... really?' vibe," behavioral expert Susan Constantine told Good Housekeeping in 2018. 

The posterity offered by the internet, which is an open-access reserve of royal photos, has only fueled interest in the monarchy's behavioral patterns. Psychologist Dr. Frank Farley explains people's investment in the British royals as a form of parasocial attachment and attraction to fairy-tale lifestyles. "Royals and other people, like Hollywood figures and Kardashian types, keep that phenomenon alive," he told Time.

In recent years, intrigue around the monarchy has been buttressed by a chain of momentous events — from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's estrangement to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom's longest-reigning monarch — giving people endless viral moments worthy of discussion. Here are all the times the royals broke character and famously showed their true feelings! 

Prince Harry entertaining a toddler at the Invictus Games won hearts

Not many would dare to steal Prince Harry's popcorn. A 2-year-old was brave enough to carry out this heist in broad daylight amid a host of cameras pointed at her at the Invictus Games in 2017. To the world's delight, Harry didn't just share his snack with the toddler, Emily Henson, but also kept her humored through the entire event. The Paralympic games — founded by Harry for military vets — marked his first public outing with his girlfriend Meghan Markle

But that's not why the Toronto event is unforgettable. It's safe to say that little Emily stole the show, reaching into the royal's popcorn tub as if it were her own. The immediately friendly pair entertained each other through the games, in which Emily's father Dave Henson was participating, with funny faces and cheeky whispers. 

The heart-melting exchange went viral, though it certainly wasn't the first time that Harry's easy affection for kids made headlines. In 2015, the amiable royal stepped out on a visit to the University of Canterbury. He met students and young fans, even serving them cupcakes, while a particularly sweet exchange between Harry and a baby — each visibly thrilled to be in the other's presence — grabbed the spotlight. We can only imagine how great a father Harry is to his own tots, Archie and Lilibet!  

When Camilla Parker Bowles was given a koala bear to cuddle

Okay, let's be honest. Most of us wouldn't know what to do if a koala were dropped into our laps. Sure, these Australian natives look every bit the cuddle bears they are branded as — but the cuteness overload could well be too tough to take. Fortunately or not, royal life brings with it a fair amount of animal interaction, a tradition that Camilla, Queen Consort, has been exposed to quite often. During a visit to the wildlife haven of Australia with her husband King Charles III in 2012, Camilla was handed a 9-month-old rescue koala named Matilda to hold. And, going by her expressions, there were brief moments of bewilderment before she settled into the experience. 

"You take the big one," she apparently told her husband (via Evening Standard). His association with the land Down Under goes back to his schooling years, and he sagely forewarned his wife about koalas' wee-wee tendencies. Camilla eventually seemed to warm up to the marsupial and was even keen on taking one home, according to People. We can't say the same about Ruby Blue, a moody kangaroo she was obliged to stroke during the same tour. 

In fact, Camilla's track record with wild beasts has consistently made for cringe-faced entertainment. At 2015's Sandringham Flower Show, she came face to face with a bald eagle named Zephyr, whose majestic wing-flapping prompted not just her, but even Charles, to do a memorable double take! 

Prince Louis was having none of it at the Platinum Jubilee

Only the youngest royal could have blown raspberries at his mother at the most formal event and gotten away with it. Prince Louis captured the spotlight front and center at the queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022 with an exuberant emotional display that was audacious, to put it mildly.

The 4-year-old's antics kept audiences entertained through the festive weekend, with live cameras capturing everything for posterity on the internet — from Prince Louis covering his ears during the flyover (all while standing beside Queen Elizabeth, no less), to thumbing his nose at Catherine, Princess of Wales. As Britain celebrated his great-grandmother's 70 years of service, Prince Louis appeared to be in quite a mood that his mother unsuccessfully tried to rein in. The weekend was a meme gold mine!

Express points out that the mischievous streak in Catherine's youngest can be traced back to another goofy royal family member: Prince William. In a vintage clip from Kensington, Princess Diana can be seen adeptly managing young William's tantrums with "no signals of annoyance, impatience, or exasperation," as body language expert Judi James puts it. As for Prince Louis' spirited emotional roller coaster at the jubilee, his relative Mike Tindall offered a perfectly relatable explanation on "The Good, The Bad, & The Rugby" podcast: "There were a lot of sweets out back though, so they had complete sugar highs." 

There was palpable tension between the royal Fab Four at a Commonwealth event

The 2020 Commonwealth Day service was a memorable affair for more reasons than one — the most significant being that it was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's final formal appearance as working royals. The occasion saw the royal Fab Four — Prince William and Princess Kate, alongside the Sussexes — reunite amid mounting strains in the family following Harry and Meghan's announcement of departure from their public duties in early 2020. 

There was palpable tension between the two young couples who didn't seem to share particularly warm greetings before settling into their places for the widely broadcast event. The public eye watched for any facial manifestation of the supposed familial rift, with experts discerning some telltale signs on Harry's face. "His skewed smile to his hosts hinted he was braced for what was to come," body language specialist Judi James told Cosmopolitan, noting that the rebel prince exuded a particularly tense energy toward his brother. 

Kate's demeanor too, wasn't particularly upbeat, with a royal source revealing to Vanity Fair that she "has taken it all badly," especially in the context of the trio's friendship before Meghan entered the picture. Parallel to William and Harry's ongoing feud, Kate and Meghan's relationship notoriously soured, with explosive claims of friction between the sisters-in-law surfacing in the press. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Meghan Markle charmed with their inside jokes

For all the time that they managed to spend together, Queen Elizabeth II and Meghan Markle reportedly remained on good terms. The easygoing relationship they shared became apparent at the event for the Mersey Gateway Bridge in 2018. Only a month into her marriage to Prince Harry, Meghan turned on the best of her charms for his grandmother and appeared to have won her over with good humor. 

Snaps from the event captured the monarch breaking out into a fit of giggles as Meghan muttered something to her. The occasion marked one of Meghan's first string of royal engagements in Harry's absence, made all the more exclusive with a rare ride aboard the Royal Train with the queen — a privilege few royal family members have had the opportunity to enjoy, according to Express. Meghan recalled the experience in the Netflix documentary "Harry & Meghan," gushing about feeling grateful for a grandmother figure in the family who cared for her.

There was no apparent bitterness, even after Harry and Meghan's bombshell decision to step back from royal family duties put pressure on the seams of the monarchy. The queen, in a rare personal statement, expressed empathy with the young couple, saying that she was "entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life" and that they would remain beloved members of her family (via Los Angeles Times). 

When King Charles III lost his cool at a pen

Optics are important when you're a royal, because a single false move can set tongues wagging worldwide. Newly appointed King Charles III was probably still figuring out the ropes of his position when he briefly lost his cool at pens during a formal ceremony in September 2022. Having just acceded to the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth, Charles was tied up by a string of royal commitments that involved quite a bit of signing. 

King Charles' Accession Council ceremony was televised for the first time ever, formally proclaiming him the king of the United Kingdom. Charles sat to sign official documents only for a pen tray to block his writing space. The new monarch didn't mask his irritation as he motioned for the tray to be removed — a moment social media neither missed nor forgot. 

In what was straight out of a black comedy, another incident proving Charles' bad luck with pens made the news even before Twitter was done with its round of jokes over the first one. He was in Hillsborough Castle, signing a guest book, when the pen he was using started leaking on him. "I can't bear this bloody thing ... every stinking time," Charles snapped (via The Guardian). On a visit to Scotland a few days later, he exhibited his lighter side by poking fun at his past record with pens, calling them "temperamental" (via People).

Kate Middleton's iconic eye roll no one can forget

Few hold the authority to pass orders to Kate Middleton — among them, an employee of a children's nonprofit in New York. In a perfectly rare royal moment of outrageousness and amusement, Catherine was told off in public for idling at work in the United States during a visit in 2014.

The top royal was spending time at the Northside Center for Child Development, wrapping presents for underprivileged children. Mid-session, she was approached by a staff member, who advised the suave princess to "keep wrapping" – an unanticipated demand that prompted a very off-brand eye roll from Catherine before she got back to work (via The Guardian). That said, polls show that Catherine is apparently a popular royal in the U.S., more so than Meghan Markle, who trails behind other senior working members.  

If The Times is to be believed, the forever prim Catherine is quite the eye-roll savant. An insider revealed that she once let slip the gesture at a mention of her sister-in-law's show, "Suits." Though claims from Prince Harry in his tell-all memoir "Spare" have portrayed Catherine as a conservative royal, she is known as quite the people's princess who is no stranger to displaying affection. However, since assuming her role as Princess of Wales, experts have deciphered changes in her body language, which has taken on a more serious, intense demeanor, according to Express

Meghan Markle appeared exceptionally somber at the queen's funeral

Ever since Meghan Markle entered the royal purview, each twitch she makes is subjected to microscopic examination. The former working royal wasn't spared the scrutiny even at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral on September 19, 2022. The "Suits" star flew in from the United States with her husband Prince Harry, turning up at the final farewell for Britain's longest-serving monarch with an especially somber appearance. Dressed in an all-black ensemble, Meghan was photographed getting misty-eyed and wiping away tears as she witnessed the queen's service at Westminster Abbey. "I feel fortunate. And I continue to be proud to have had a nice warmth with the matriarch of the family," Markle told Variety after the official mourning period ended. 

While there was much to focus on during the queen's departure ceremony — including a long-awaited public reunion of the royal Fab Four after approximately two years of tension — many viewers and critics concentrated their attention on Meghan's appearance at the funeral. Some contended that her melancholic manner was bogus.

Royal expert Tom Bower, in an analysis of Meghan's presentation, said, "The only person that Meghan, I think at the moment, is crying for is herself, certainly not for the queen" (via Express). Though a royal fallout between siblings Harry and William over the course of 2019 strained relationships in the royal family, Meghan and the late monarch apparently remained on friendly terms. 

Princess Charlotte gave crowds a royal tongue stick-out

A primary member of the royal renegade youth club, Princess Charlotte isn't afraid to overstep formal protocol and embrace her goofy side at public events. At the King's Cup regatta in 2019, the 4-year-old delightfully shocked onlookers by sticking her tongue out through a window while greeting crowds assembled below. Charlotte was with her mother Kate, Princess of Wales, who was momentarily amused before ushering the youngster along, as peals of laughter rang out through the audience. It turns out that Charlotte wasn't being funny without reason. Per Hello! magazine, the young royal had supposedly spotted her grandfather Michael Middleton in the crowd and was giving him a special shoutout! 

Charlotte, who is third in line to the throne of Britain, chooses the best moments to stick out her tongue. She was spotted flaunting her signature expression at Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018. It was a full-circle moment, with Charlotte carrying forward the legacy of her goofy uncle, infamous as a child for giving cameras the royal tongue every so often.

Apparently, it wasn't something Princess Diana was thrilled about. In the documentary "The Story of Diana," her brother revealed that the British press dubbed Harry's quirks rude, but photographers were actually doing it first to provoke a reaction out of him, and "Diana felt furious about that" (via Insider).

Sarah Ferguson didn't hold back on goofing around at her daughter's wedding

Sarah, Duchess of York occupies a complex position in the royal family tree. Her relationship with the British monarchy never really healed after her infamous toe-sucking scandal during the 1990s, which invoked the wrath of senior working members like Prince Philip, who called her a "royal embarrassment" (via Marie Claire). Despite her complicated history, Ferguson — or Fergie, as she is popularly known — doesn't seem to have lost her humor. 

Priceless moments captured on camera at her daughter Princess Eugenie's wedding in 2018 showed Sarah at her goofy best, with animated waves and vivacious interactions with the press. Sprinkling in a little dottiness at weddings is a Fergie specialty. At her own nuptials to Prince Andrew in 1986, Fergie was every bit the cool bride, winking unabashedly while walking down the aisle and through her wedding vows. She separated from Queen Elizabeth II's son in 1992. 

"She hadn't an idea of what being royal really meant. it wasn't just the awful lapses of judgment. It was an attitude to royal life," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said on an episode of the podcast "The Firm," observing that even the royal staff thought of Ferguson as vulgar. Part of the reason why her marriage dissolved was her inability to comply with the demands of royal life, Ferguson told Harper's Bazaar

Prince William got a little too invested in a Wimbledon match

When you're a royal, there are just some things you can't be seen doing. For instance, the royals never eat certain foods. And they shouldn't be seen swearing in public. Prince William veered dangerously close to breaking the latter rule at Wimbledon in 2022. He was so invested in the quarterfinals game between Cameron Norrie and David Goffin that he didn't appear to have realized that he had dropped the F-bomb on camera. 

The internet worked itself up into a debate over William's supposed faux pas and whether or not it actually happened after Twitter users highlighted the unmissable moment. Many swore they could make out William almost mouthing the expletive before the live camera cut away from his face. The viral moment was touted as a perfect example of the royals being human after all! 

In the posh jargon of the British royal elite, words like "toilet," "couch," and ironically enough even "posh" apparently don't exist and are considered impolite to use, according to Reader's Digest. And it would be safe to assume that cuss words are part of the royalty's out-of-bound vocabulary. Since it's not so much a law as it is an etiquette, even senior members of the royal family have been known to fault over it — most famously, the ever-brusque Prince Philip who, in a hotheaded moment back in 2015, told photographers at an event to "just take the f***ing picture" (via The Guardian).