Since the Cambridges’ visit to Scotland is intended to promote good mental health and wellbeing, it may come as no surprise that the royal pair are showing a more “human” and less regal side. The visit to both Glasgow and Edinburgh will see Kate and William focus on “the vital work of charities and organisations” that are “developing empathy in young children and helping vulnerable families into permanent homes”, according to Kensington Palace.
Body language expert Judi James spoke to Express.co.uk about the Cambridges’ “desire to be seen as more approachable and ‘human’ and to usher in a new and perhaps more modern style of royalty in the UK”.
This, according to Judi, is what the visit to Glasgow yesterday demonstrated.
She continued: “It was particularly important after the old-style pomp and tradition of the State Opening of Parliament that morning.
“William’s body language suggested a desire to create an almost low-key presence in the Palace of Westminster, using several status-diminishing techniques like adopting a ‘neutral’ expression that suggested subtle reflection and sadness at the fact his grandmother was missing, and keeping his head slightly lowered and his hands clasped in the fig-leaf pose, even when he was walking down the centre aisle to the throne room.”
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Here, Judi is referring to Prince Charles’ speech on Tuesday, May 10, which is usually done by the Queen.
Prince William was present, but departed for Glasgow with the Duchess of Cambridge the following day.
Judi went on to say that “the avoidance of status-boasting paid dividends as a precursor to this trip to Glasgow that followed”.
“William and his wife have probably never looked quite so tactile, approachable and, at the same time, joyous as they played with children, listened to issues and, in William’s case, performed one of the tightest and most moving hugs with an elderly gentleman,” the body language expert claimed.
She said: “The couple seem to have mastered the skill of signalling approachability and then waiting for the people they meet to take the lead in terms of how they want to handle that message.
“There are no signs here that either of them were pushing the rituals or even instigating them to promote their new ‘down to earth’ image.
“They seem to have created an aura of friendliness and affection, and then allowed the responses from the public to happen naturally.
“This would have been important as suddenly re-branding themselves by pushing the hugs and cuddles would have looked awkward and acted.”
As well as speaking to the public outside on the streets, Kate and William also visited a primary school to talk with children in their classroom.
Judi continued: “Children in particular will respond naturally and spontaneously to signals they are being sent, and we can see from the way they sit happily watching the action, while Kate sits between them with her own legs crossed like theirs, that she had managed to integrate rather than create a ‘special’ presence and intimidate.
“The way William and Kate were posing happily for selfies and being naturally tactile as they did so is also a sign that they have lost some of the ‘royal’ formality.
“The photo of the little girl bringing her piece of paper up to show to William also shows how natural the small children felt and behaved around him.
“Meanwhile, the hug from the resident also reflects how approachable the Prince is now seen to be.”
However, Judi went on to say: “Having said that, there also seems to be no attempt to adopt a more ‘saint-like’ look during this hug.
“William could have mirrored the man and closed his eyes while adopting a very emotional expression but his wide smile lets up know that, unlike many politicians, he’s not milking this for the cameras.”
This photo of the elderly man – who is a resident at Wheatley Homes’ affordable housing site – and William has made the rounds on social media, with some royal fans calling the hug “touching”.
User @Pooja33719735 said: “Prince William is a thoroughly lovely and decent human being – he has his mother’s compassion. You can tell that moment meant a lot to that elderly man, bless him, who was clearly in need of a hug – and that’s what is important in life, being there for others.”
User @loveforcambridge wrote: “The most beautiful, touching picture of the day without a doubt.”