Times Body Language Made Royal Fans Believe There Was Trouble In Paradise

No matter the personal matters and behind-the-scenes drama, members of the royal family typically wear a poker face when out in public. Of course, there have been moments when keeping said composure and maintaining neutral body language is easier said than done. Although these occasions are rare, the press has a field day whenever a royal lets their mask drop when out among the hoi polloi.

"When we see a photo of a royal looking angry or stressed it can often be a body language 'flash,' i.e. a very fleeting facial expression that has been taken out of context," body language expert Judi James told the Express. "When we see the whole footage the message can be completely different, especially if it's a royal like Kate, who is normally known for her pitch-perfect social smiles that she can keep in place without looking strained or inauthentic for long periods of time."

The late Queen Elizabeth II felt so strongly about putting on a brave face to avoid revealing tensions to the masses that she lived by a "never complain, never explain" rule. This rule has been more or less followed by other royals, but there have been a few rare instances where onlookers got a slight insight into the relationship between royal couples which we aren't used to seeing, further stoking the curiosity of what was actually happening at the time.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip locked horns while on tour in the '50s

All couples fight, even the most elite of the elite. Enter: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Legend has it that a film crew once captured an argument between the couple on video in 1954. Yes, long before TMZ was ambushing celebrities at baggage claim, the late monarch and her husband were evidently caught on camera doing something they preferred the world not see.

The reported royal quarrel took place while the pair was on vacation. The aforementioned documentary crew happened to be nearby when the queen was said to have lost her cool. In the book "Prince Philip Revealed" (via Fox News), author and royal expert Ingrid Seward recounted the moment. "Their tempers were very frayed," she wrote. "This film crew was standing outside their little holiday villa. The next thing they knew, Prince Philip appeared on the balcony, followed by a tennis racket and a pair of tennis shoes thrown at his head. The queen came out and shouted at him to come back. She then grabbed [Philip] and dragged him back inside." A member of the royal's team asked for the footage, and the queen appreciated the film crew's cooperation. 

Turns out, the world did get to see this moment... sort of: The royal fight ended up in Season 1 of Netflix's "The Crown."

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip shared an awkward dance

In 1967, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended a royal ball in Malta. When they hit the dance floor, they were the picture of royal glam and elegance; Elizabeth sparkled from head to toe and Philip looked sharp in his decked-out suit. However, one could argue that their body language suggested something was up. During the couple's dance at the ball, there was a notable gap of space between the pair of royals compared to other couples around them. Their lackluster facial expressions also could lead one to believe that they might've been checked out entirely or just tired. They also did not seem to hold much eye contact with one another. 

Looking at the snapshot above, body language expert Blanca Cobb picked up on a curious vibe. "They're totally disengaged — I get the impression something's off." she told Cosmopolitan. "It's like she's using him as a hand rest — it's not intimate at all." That said, Cobb did go on to note that fleeting moments like this one should not totally color our perception of what their relationship was truly like. "You can't assume they act this way at home. There's no way to extrapolate public behavior to private lives when we're talking about royals," she said.

Did Queen Elizabeth ignore Prince Phillip's gesture?

In May of 2003, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were photographed getting out of their car together. In this particular candid photo, it looks like Philip extended out to the queen as she emerged from the vehicle. However, one could also argue that it looks like the queen ignored her husband's gesture. 

What's more, Queen Elizabeth did not make any sort of eye contact with Phillip; her body was angled away from her longtime spouse. Another interesting detail? She apparently decided to use the door handle to brace herself as she stepped out of the car when, again, her husband's hand was right there. So, what was the deal? Of course, one could speculate that they may have gotten into some sort of spat prior to the event and were still heated.

However, body language expert Blanca Cobb seems to give the couple the benefit of the doubt. As Cobb explained to Cosmopolitan, this could have been just an innocuous miscommunication. "She's very independent," Cobb says. "They both could be distracted by their fans, or perhaps she doesn't want his help, since people in a position of power usually don't want to show signs of weakness."

King Charles and Lady Diana's tense engagement photos raised eyebrows

During what should have been a time of excitement and love, King Charles III and Princess Diana didn't look too comfortable when they shared the news of their engagement with the public. In February 1981, the former royal couple announced the world that they were set to wed. Per royal tradition, there was a photocall. While we've seen other royals look blissed out in their engagement announcement photos, Charles and Diana's pics were another story. The word "strained" comes to mind. 

Overall, the future exes appeared to be on totally different pages. As body language expert Traci Brown told Today, "Charles is looking down and through the tops of his eyes. Diana's not reaching for him. She's not 100 percent comfortable with being in the limelight because her one arm is straight and the other arm is crossed — she's protecting. It's not an elegant look. We would never see this from her in her later years. This is all new to her, it's brand new."

Royalty or not, engagement photos are an opportunity for a newly engaged couple to have a little fun and bask in the excitement surrounding this next chapter. When Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, took their official engagement photographs, for example, they clearly kept this in mind. As Traci Brown told Good Housekeeping, "The great thing about these pictures in particular is that they're consistent with what we have seen previously — they're always tangled up with one another and being openly romantic."

Their engagement interview wasn't exactly smooth either

Right after they posed for their engagement photos, King Charles III and Princess Diana sat down with ITN to share the story of their engagement and overall hopes for their upcoming marriage. Things got off to a rather awkward start when the interviewer noted that they must be in love. Diana quickly replied, "Of course," whereas Charles quipped, "Whatever 'in love' means. It's up to interpretation." Diana laughed off the moment and did her best to play it cool, but as we all know now, this moment was a preview of the major drama to come. 

"It's clear that by her reaction, she believed back then that she had concerns and even doubts about their relationship," body language expert Darren Stanton told Coffee Friend (via Express). As Nicole Moore, another body language expert, explained to The List, the late princess' physicality also suggested she regretted her own answer straight away. "She knew the couple was not in love and was almost sucking the lie back in after she said it," Moore said.

Lady Di later confirmed that she was indeed upset by Charles' flippant remark. "I thought, what a strange answer. It traumatized me," she once told biographer Andrew Morton, per "Diana: In Her Own Words." What's more, she took issue with the question itself, calling the inquiry "thick." 

King Charles and Princess Diana kept their distance on tour

In 1983, King Charles III and Princess Diana embarked on their very first official tour as a royal couple. The former pair spent six weeks in Australia and New Zealand, and naturally, photographers snapped as many shots of the two as they could. Diana's tour style, of course, got a lot of attention — as did the pair's body language. 

In a number of the photos, Diana and Charles did not exactly look lovey-dovey. Time and time again, they appeared to keep at least a few feet between them as they walked together. "They are so far apart. These two people are not connected to each other," body language expert Patti Wood told Today. "He's down and facing away. She's walking on sand and he's not assisting her or waiting for her, which tells me he's not comforting. And, even though Diana is walking, she's got her hands in the 'fig leaf' configuration, protecting herself. Even in this situation, where she's several steps back, she feels the need to protect herself."

When the future exes did stand next to one another, there was a noticeable rigidness. At this point, the two had been married for only a couple years, but it sure seemed the honeymoon period was long gone (assuming it ever existed in the first place). 

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips 'squirm' at a pointed question

In 1983, Princess Anne and husband Captain Mark Phillips sat down with Michael Parkinson for an interview. At one point, Parkinson got right to it and asked about the health of their marriage — a question that seemingly made the pair flinch.

"There have been rumors about divorce and unhappiness," Parkinson stated. "Are they true or untrue?" As they listened to the question, Anne and Phillip both looked at the ground and fidgeted. As body language expert Judi James recounted to Express UK, "Mark's clasped hands begin to squirm and even Anne's fingers fiddle about in a signal of discomfort." In an effort to create a sense of levity, the princess looked at Phillips and deadpanned, "What are you doing here?" The audience erupted with laughter. Princess Anne then assured everyone that the rumors were merely gossip. 

When it was Phillips' turn, he kept his eyes on Anne as he answered, almost as if he was seeking her reassurance. "When she does look up at her husband her expression looks scathing," James said of the couple. "Mark struggles to speak, squeaking and laughing nervously. Anne even performs a tongue-poke of rejection or dislike as she watches him." Anne and Phillips divorced in 1992

Was Catherine upset with William at the queen's birthday party?

Though she was not born into the royal family, Catherine, Princess of Wales, is already an expert at maintaining her royal composure. As body expert Judi James put it, she is an "accomplished masker." However, that mask seemed to fall a bit at the queen's birthday garden party in July 2017.

Although Catherine looked absolutely stunning in an elegant white ball gown, a few of the photos taken that day suggested things weren't so pretty behind the scenes. While we, of course, cannot say for certain, Catherine seemed to be unhappy about something, even shooting seemingly dirty looks at Prince William. 

The pictures in question grabbed the attention of body language expert Judi James. "There are several photos of the occasion that show her looking unhappy or even throwing William some pointed looks while he tried to remain neutral, with a faint, polite, closed-lip smile of what looked like regret or awkwardness," James told Express. "Kate's eyes looked tired, with dark smudges underneath them and at one point she appeared to be looking down while biting the inside of her mouth as though holding back her emotions." James also continued, "As she looked out towards the waiting guests her arms looked rigid and her eye expression wary."

Meghan refused to smooch Harry on the kiss cam

Much has been made of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry's body language over the years. So, it should come as no surprise that royal watchers got out their magnifying glasses when the two ended up on the Crypto.com Arena kiss cam in 2023. 

When their faces appeared on the Jumbotron, Meghan laughed and sort of nudged Harry away jokingly. Interestingly, Harry seemed willing to go in for the kiss, whereas Meghan hit the brakes. On an episode of "Sunrise," body language expert Dr. Louise Mahler described this technique as a means of "misdirection and laughter" to avoid the situation. "It's an old technique used by women if you don't want to kiss," Dr. Mahler said. "When someone goes in for the handshake, you can jam the elbow just for a split second, look away, and laugh and it's a way of misdirection."

Dr. Mahler also compared this moment to Meghan and Harry's body language from the beginning of their relationship. "In almost all of the photos, Harry's leaning in, and Meghan is just upright or slightly leaning away," she said. Dr. Mahler went on to suggest that Harry and Meghan may not be on the same page as far as their relationship is concerned.