Body language expert compares Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle's first mom moments

Beth Greenfield
Senior Editor
New parents Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Wednesday, left, and Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2013. (Photo: Getty Images)

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is here!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle proudly debuted their infant to the world on Wednesday, making their first appearance as a family — two days post-partum rather than on the traditional day-of birth — at Windsor Castle. Rain kept the trio inside St. George’s Hall, the site of their 2018 wedding.

A glowing Meghan, wearing a white sleeveless Givenchy trench dress that was cinched just above her post-partum belly and paired with nude Manolo Blahnik heels, said that being a new mom was “magic.” Harry, in a pale gray suit, held the swaddled infant, while Meghan alternately gazed at her son and adjusted her hair during their public photo op.

So what did all her fussing and shifting mean?

“She was doing a lot of comfort cues with her hair — which is part of her natural baseline, but she was doing it quite a lot,” Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, after studying the video of the royal family’s debut.

A comfort cue, she explains, “is a soft touch that sends a message to the nervous system to send out calming chemicals. It’s her comfort cue, and in a category for self-grooming, so it’s a comfort cue about appearance, which makes perfect sense. I think it indicates anxiety as she’s exposing her baby to the clicking cameras of the media, and also exposing herself to possible criticism and ridicule.”

In general, though, what Wood noticed most was that “Meghan seemed to be running it, in terms of who was initiating and more forceful in conversation,” she says. “Beginnings and endings are usually most telling, and she rushed the close. There was an urgency and rushing — great happiness — but that was enough. Which was interesting, considering the power structure. Harry could’ve been out there a while.”

Harry was calm, “to a certain degree,” Wood adds. “His hold [on the baby] was nice and natural and secure, and it was obvious he had held a lot of babies and was comfortable. A lot of times I see him as impish and playful, but here there was something secure underneath.”

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor, on Wednesday May 8, 2019. (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP)

As for Megan, though, “she kept reaching out. You could tell she wanted to be holding the baby.”

When Kate Middleton and Prince William first posed on the steps of the Lido Wing in 2013, debuting their firstborn, George, they each got a change to hold the baby. “They trade off, which was obviously very choreographed and stylized,” Wood notes, and, going back even further, recalls when Charles and Diana stood for their first family photo, and Charles held William “very awkwardly.”

More studying of Kate in 2013 indicated to Wood a high level of comfort. “Physically, I didn’t see any pain. She had a serenity that sort of grounded her and she was really comfortable with the back and forth,” Wood points out. “They weren’t standing as close together or touching each other as much. But they were also in a much more exposed venue, which made them very vulnerable, though they didn’t show that.”

Meghan, meanwhile, “was physically uncomfortable, which was clear through the strain on her face, and her steps, which were very small. There was tension around her ankles and feet,” Wood notes. “I give grace for that, because she’s always so beautifully groomed and wondrous, so I want us to have some empathy.”

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