It was announced on Monday that William would be attending after the Queen, 96, reluctantly pulled out of the ceremony. She did so on advice of royal doctors due to continued mobility problems, making it only the third time she’s missed the reading of the speech in her entire reign. The reading of the Queen’s speech therefore fell to Prince Charles, 73, who did so alongside the Duchess of Cornwall, 74.
William, 39, took his place in the procession behind the Imperial State Crown and sat beside his father.
Body language expert Judi James has broken down the Duke of Cambridge’s appearance, suggesting he became the “invisible man” behind the future monarch.
She added that he appeared “very sombre” and described the “fig-leaf position”.
She told the Mirror: “William was almost the invisible man here. Tugging at his waistcoat on arrival he then appeared to keep his hands clasped in the fig-leaf position in front of his torso for the entire event, only placing them on his lap once he sat down.
“He walked with his hands clasped like this, suggesting a lowering of his own status and presence. His facial expression suggested sadness and regret.
“His polite smiles were down-turned with the lips sucked in to emphasise the idea of sadness and his frown and down-turned eyes gave a very sombre look to his body language.”
The body language expert added that Charles showed “undeniable signs of nerves” as he stepped in for the Queen to deliver the speech for the first time ever.
When the Queen stepped down from performing the crucial ceremony in 1959 and 1963, which she did so due to being pregnant, the speech was instead read out by the Lord Chancellor at the time, Lord Kilmuir.
However, the decision to transfer the duty to Prince Charles this year instead of the current Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab could be read as a strategy by Buckingham Palace to bring the 73-year-old Prince of Wales to the fore as the future monarch.
Catherine Haddon, senior fellow at the Institute for Government think-tank, said this year’s Queen’s Speech was a “big constitutional moment”.
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“Even with the Queen’s throne removed the gap left looked poignant and as Charles lowered himself onto what is called the Consort Throne and William squashed himself onto the smaller throne a few steps down, Charles appeared preoccupied with the crown that sat in front of him, gazing at it for several moments before he was given the speech to read.
“He took a deep breath on the way in and performed a jaw-jut and sideways wobble as though bracing himself.
“As he arrived at the archway to the throne rooms his head suddenly jerked up to either look at the arch or the throne.
“With Camilla’s left hand showing anxiety signals, tapping at the arm of her throne, and her feet making jittery movements on the floor, Charles’s levels of nervousness became more obvious as his hands shook while he held and read the notes of the Queen’s speech, making the pages flap as he held and turned them.”