Meghan Markle’s ‘signature gesture’ is ‘misinterpreted’ in contrast to ‘submissive’ Kate Middleton.

The Duchess of Sussex was seen at the Platinum Jubilee putting her arm on Harry’s back as they walked side by side.

Williams’ arm around Kate was positively received on social media as “protective” and “cute”, while Meghan’s gesture was often described as “controlling”.

Body language expert Judi James spoke exclusively to to explain why Meghan’s gestures in particular were “misinterpreted”.

Judi said: “Command and control? How Meghan’s complex gesture to Harry was misinterpreted as negative.


“When William puts an arm around Kate, he is considered affectionate.

“Sometimes it will be Kate who performs the gesture on him and the reaction is usually the same.

“But when Meghan put her arm around her husband in her signature gesture, she is branded as ‘controlling.’

“So why the difference and what does each gesture really mean about the relationship?” asked the expert.


Judi said: “William tends to put his arm around his wife’s waist. When he does, she often responds in kind and turns it into a connecting gesture, like holding hands.

“It’s usually performed side by side and is a sign of affection. It’s a gesture Harry and Meghan often use as well, though they tend to prefer the much more intimate hand-clasp PDA.

“When the arm is around the waist, there is no hand behind the back to direct or control. If we see William placing a hand on Kate’s back like he does in this photo where she’s wearing the lace-back dress, he’s more likely to nudge her forward or direct her to move on.

“Meghan’s gesture in these poses involves a similarly flattened hand on Harry’s back, which, like Williams’ version, would imply some sort of tie-sign message and possibly guidance.

“The Duchess of Sussex also seems to use it as a gesture of affection and reassurance, like letting Harry know where she is when he’s talking to other people.

“If both William and Meghan use this form of signaling, it could be said to be a gesture of control, but that doesn’t lead to the assumption that the person controls the relationship overall,” Judi added.

Why was Meghan’s body language so ‘shocking’ to many?

Judi claimed: “Meghan’s touches could have shocked anyone marinated in old-fashioned royal protocol, where one could have expected Harry to always take the lead and perform all steering gestures.

“But Meghan is a grown woman with very healthy confidence. When she married Harry, she was marrying a man who was wary or even unlucky when it came to posing for the press and who loved to be the prankster at royal events, so he probably needed some encouraging gestures.

“Meghan has always used two types of signals with Harry: the signals of attraction and partner affection, and also some subtle maternal signals that offer reassurance and support when needed.

“It was clearly part of the attraction for Harry and it broke with the mold of royals who tended to marry submissive and more shy looking partners.

“So the gesture is technically one of control and affection, but doesn’t define an entire relationship as controlling. Like all couples, Harry and Meghan switch roles depending on the moment, as does William and Kate.”

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