All The Subtle Ways The Duchess Of Sussex Avoids Upstaging Prince Harry

British Royals, Royals, Meghan Markle & Prince Harry, Lifestyle
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She may be employing some subtle techniques, so say body language experts

Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement in November 2017, much has been made of their public displays of affection: 'breaking' royal protocol by holding hands, touching each other's waists, and using adorable nicknames.

However, in the lead up to the couple's first overseas tour in October, we've started to notice the very subtle gestures the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may employ to defer power to the other when it's important to do so.

Last week, the newlyweds were photographed attending a WellChild charity event in London.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at WellChild Awards

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Dressed in black Altuzarra suit trousers teamed with a Stella McCartney clutch, Meghan looked elegant and event-appropriate as she stepped out of the car with her husband.

A closer inspection of their body language, however, suggests that the 37-year-old may be employing some subtle techniques to push Prince Harry into the limelight.

On entering the venue, the formers Suits star appeared to place her hand on the small of Harry's back, gently nudging him forward to lead their entrance at the event.

"It's quite a theatrical-based technique," says body language expert and author Judi James.

"She's well aware that Harry is the star and popular among royal fans so, as a former actress, she's very cleverly trying not to up-stage him.

Meghan Markle and Harry - Out and About

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"By pushing him forward ever so slightly, she boosts the prince's ego and profile, making him feel more of an alpha male in the situation."

While it might diminish her profile at such a high-profile event, James argues the gesture is consciously 'self-effacing'.

"It will work well with the public," she says. "[Meghan] is a Hollywood actress that's come over to the UK so will be conscious not to appear overly dominant. It's a canny move. As the older partner in the relationship with slightly more experience in A-list situations, I'd say she's more confident than Harry by a mile."

Amid rumours the couple recently spent time with royal wedding guests George and Amal Clooney at their Lake Como home earlier this summer, the expert also argues the royal pair may be looking to have the same public appeal as any other A-list power couple.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

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For example, an inspection of the way Harry and Meghan walk together at royal engagements reveals the duchess often retreats behind her husband, encouraging him into the spotlight first, making sure he leads.

"There's a touch of celebrity about them," James continues. "Similar to Amal, Meghan is rarely ever photographed without stilettos and often looks to her partner for support, as if she ever so slightly needs help."

While images of the prince walking ahead of his wife may seem a traditional and rather anti-feminist move for some, James is quick to emphasise the duchess is the one in control of their public appearances.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry - Power Couple

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"Meghan's penchant for backseat driving is seen in her constant touching of Harry's back with the palm of her hand. It's quite a controlling quasi-maternal support gesture, pushing him along, but it's also flirtatious."

This is a trait Meghan was first seen using during the couple's engagement interview and photocall with the BBC last year.

"When they posed for the photographers, she was the one using reassuring gestures and confidently touching Harry's arm," adds James.

That said, Meghan's tendency to allow Harry to lead their walk may also have something to do with royal protocol.

Similarly to her first solo royal outing with Queen Elizabeth II in Cheshire earlier this summer, the former actress was keen to show her awareness of formality and maintaining royal protocol.

Queen Elizabeth and Meghan Markle

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James continues: "She stood well behind Her Majesty during their visit and, similar to Harry, she's conscious of the importance of protocol. Meghan could easily upstage Harry with the international interest in her fashion. I don't think her positioning of herself behind Harry has an iota to do with lacking in confidence."

As for the future, James suggests we might see a change in the way Harry and Meghan interact with each other at public events.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - Public Appearances

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"Meghan is straddling two very different roles at the moment," she argues. "She was once a high-profile actress campaigning for women's liberation, but has married into one of the most old-fashion families in the universe. Female roles - apart from the Queen - in the Royal Family are rather traditional, so I imagine she's rather confused about how to play her new position.

"In her new royal role, I think Meghan will initially have a more compliant, submissive role, looking to steer Harry in his duties. However, on the world stage, I envisage we'll see her come to the forefront and become more dominant when it comes to accompanying Harry to events."


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British Royals, Royals, Meghan Markle & Prince Harry, Lifestyle
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