Expert Tells Us How Prince William's Body Language Has Changed Since The Queen's Death

When Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, the United Kingdom said farewell to its beloved monarch. Prince William, meanwhile, had to face a much greater personal loss. As reported by CBS, in a public address that he made shortly following the queen's passing, William said, "So much will be said in the days ahead about the meaning of her historic reign. I, however, have lost a grandmother." He went on to open up about his feelings sorrow, sharing, "My grandmother famously said that grief was the price we pay for love. All of the sadness we will feel in the coming weeks will be testament to the love we felt for our extraordinary queen."

However, even as William entered a period of mourning, his entire life changed. After all, Elizabeth's death marked William's transition from second in the line of succession to the heir to the throne. In light of this transformation, the newly-ascended King Charles III passed a number of important titles on to his son. Indeed, in Charles' first public appearance as king, he announced, "As my heir, William now assumes the Scottish titles, which have meant so much to me" (via CBS).

With these new titles, though, come great responsibilities — and William has likely felt their weight. The List consulted with body language expert, royal commentator, and co-founder of TRUTHPLANE Mark Bowden to gain insight into how the prince is dealing with his new role. And interestingly, it seems that William has changed considerably since his grandmother died.

A year before Queen Elizabeth's death, William seemed insecure

Prior to becoming the heir to the throne, Prince William could seem a little bit uncertain at times. As body language expert Mark Bowden told The List, the prince might have even been grappling with feelings of "insecurity." Pointing to William's 2021 address to the Church of Scotland, Bowden noted that the prince's posture appeared to lack confidence. The expert explained, William "has locked down the majority of his nonverbal communication by keeping his hands across his groin area in what is often referred to as the 'fig leaf' position." He later added, "This position is often associated with feelings of insecurity."

Interestingly, though, Bowden says that people who adopt this posture oftentimes wish to come across as more self-assured than they truly are. With reference to William, the body language expert opined, "In this context, it is more likely that [the prince] is attempting to create a very stable but somewhat static image, which can unfortunately often be viewed as unconfident." In that sense, it is possible that William was more focused on projecting an image of confidence than on actually embodying that trait.

Sadly, though, this meant that the prince's performance at the Church of Scotland might have fallen a bit short. As Bowden put it, "There is not much that displays overt discomfort during the majority of this appearance, but there is nothing [in William's body language] that gives an impression of great leadership confidence."

As Elizabeth's health deteriorated, William's confidence remained rocky

In the months prior to Queen Elizabeth II's death, Prince William still appeared to struggle with his confidence. This was especially apparent in 2022 when the prince gave a speech commemorating the late monarch's Platinum Jubilee. Speaking to The List, nonverbal communication specialist Mark Bowden noted that William began his address in the same, meek "fig leaf position" that he'd adopted before.

Compellingly, though, Bowden also said that William didn't maintain that vulnerable position for long. Apparently, as the speech went on, the prince seemed to project a deeper sense of self-assurance. The body language expert shared, "In this rehearsed and prepared speech, Prince William once again adopts his usual fig leaf position but quickly breaks away from that more austere and stilted posture by raising his hands up to chest height into what I call the 'passion plane' to show his excitement for this event and what it symbolizes."

In that sense, we can see that William could have started to come into himself in the summer before his grandmother passed away. Perhaps, then, as Elizabeth's health was declining, William was already beginning to step into his new role. According to Bowden, the prince's gestures towards the latter half of his speech ended up "reinforcing the importance of this message," instead of just displaying insecurity. When analyzing the overall quality of William's address, Bowden opined, "This speech edges him a little further into a more confident performance."

During the queen's funeral, Prince William stepped up to the plate

Prince William's performances prior to Queen Elizabeth II's death might have been on the shakier side of things. However, at her funeral, the newly-minted heir seemed to exhibit a more regal presence. This was evident in William's approach to the procession. During this ceremony, the prince seemed to resist the temptation to dwell on his own sorrow — and instead put his duties first. As body language expert Mark Bowden told The List, "During this procession, the prince follows the tradition of his grandmother, the queen, by showing no overt emotion. This ceremonial event is more for the people's benefit and not for his personal grieving. To this end, he adopts a stoic attitude to give a sense of dignity to the event in the face of a great loss to the nation."

Fascinatingly, this was not the only moment when William prioritized the crown above his personal feelings. Throughout the queen's funeral, William behaved generously towards his younger brother, Prince Harry. In fact, it was even reported by the Daily Mail that the elder prince helped his younger brother find his seat at St. George's Chapel — a move that could be interpreted as a sign of regality and grace. 

Indeed, according to Bowden, William's performance at the queen's funeral was essentially perfect. The nonverbal communication expert claimed, "Everything about [William's body language] is exactly as expected of him in his role as a major royal."

As the new heir to the throne, William started projecting more confidence

Following Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, Prince William began to display more signs of self-assuredness. At the 2022 United for Wildlife Summit, the prince gave his first speech since the queen died — and, he arguably appeared more secure than ever. Analyzing this moment in conversation with The List, Mark Bowden revealed that William seemed refreshingly natural throughout his address. He explained, "The vocal tone, pace, and feeling within the prince's voice during this speech is way more casual and conversational than we've heard in the previous examples."

Additionally, William's United for Wildlife speech also saw him breaking free of certain bad habits — chief among them, the more insecure "fig leaf" posture. Indeed, the prince traded in the less confident pose for something that seemed much more reassured. As Bowden put it, "He does not adopt his usual fig leaf positioning of his hands but uses a way more open body language style, giving him an appearance of more power and yet maintaining a casual, less rehearsed tone." 

All in all, this shift in William's body language could very well demonstrate the prince's growing comfort in his newfound role as heir. While he may have initially seemed uncertain about this transition, the prince could now be feeling more at ease with the change. Bowden suggested, "Maybe now, with his key role as Prince of Wales, he has shifted towards a way more confident and powerful persona."

The prince may still harbor insecurities, but he appears to be growing stronger

Of course, nobody does a full 180 overnight, and Prince William is no exception. Although the prince has demonstrated a potential increase in confidence since assuming his new position, he also continues to experience moments of insecurity. This was certainly the case at King Charles III's 2023 coronation concert — when William had to discuss his grandmother's death. 

During this emotionally fraught moment, Mark Bowden spotted William displaying a certain lack of self-assuredness. As the nonverbal communication expert revealed in conversation with The List, William once again "adopts the fig leaf position ... He fidgets somewhat with his cue cards, bending the corner and rubbing the top edge, betraying a slight element of stress and pressure underlying his cool, calm, and collected character." 

That being said, the expert did not seem to think that this more vulnerable body language indicated any potential discomfort with William's new role. Instead, Bowden hinted that the prince was likely still grappling with feelings of grief regarding his own mother's death. The nonverbal communication specialist shared, "There's a distinct change in the movement around his mouth and chin when he says that the queen would look on this event and be 'a very proud mother.' Considering the death of a mother is an important theme to William, there may be a sense of grief here that we subtly see in his mouth, chin and throat area."