PRINCE William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle put on a solid front at the Queen’s funeral, but it appeared no love was lost for their appearances.
A body language expert has claimed that the “Fab Four” have always had tension and we can see from group photos over the years how their bond has steadily declined.
Judi James told Fabulous: “A quick glance at the poses of the so-called ‘Fab Four’ does of course suggest a slow, linear deterioration of their relationship from warm friendship to cold rift.
“Closer analysis of their body language though suggests a rather different story, though.”
Speaking about their appearance at the National Service to mark the Armistice centenary, Judi said their smiles looked “rigid”.
She said: “The couples did line up in close proximity that might have suggested the ‘Fab Four’ were still on track but, again, the smiles on both Kate and Meghan’s faces look rigid enough to suggest tension and Kate’s smile barely reaches her eyes.
“It’s the tension between the brothers that is beginning to show here though.
“Their poses might be mirrored but they are self-protective fig leaf’ hand poses.
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“William is actually in front of Harry in the line-up and both men avoided eye contact, with Harry’s face drawn into something close to a scowl.”
Things weren’t much better on Christmas Day, when the two couples stepped out together at Sandringham.
Although Meghan and Kate were pictured smiling and chatting with each other, Judi said there were subtle signs that there was tension.
She said: “The rumours were that Kate and Meghan were at loggerheads, despite the fact that their husbands enjoyed such a close sibling relationship and as a result we were treated to this acted display of friendship.
“The smiles here for the camera on Christmas day might look warm but this moment shows all the signs of being a planned ‘denial’ performance, i.e. one created for the cameras to try to pretend that all is well, rather than the real deal.
“As they walked towards the press photographers, Kate very deliberately moved across towards Meghan to engage her in some smiling and quite animated conversation.
“The smiles themselves, which looked forced and their cheeks were rounded by the effort but there is muscle tension in both women’s top lips.
“William and Harry might be trying to smile but both have their hands stuffed in their pockets in what is often a desire to hide and to not communicate.”
If 2018 was about trying to “mask” feelings and “pretend everything was ok”, by 2019 Judi said the tension signals ramped up to a level of what looked to be "unbearable" for them all.
At the Commonwealth Day in 2019, a pregnant Meghan seemed to be the “one happy to draw on her skills as an actress to perform a very convincing and fun-fuelled-looking smile”, according to Judi.
Judi added: “Kate’s facial expression here makes her almost unrecognisable. The social smile is gone and her mouth is pulled down at the corners instead.
“Her brows are raised and her eye expression looks intense and unhappy."
And things weren't much better for the brothers.
Judi analysed: “Harry started to acquire the haunted eye expression that became stronger the closer the couple came to leaving the UK for good.
“He appears to be biting his inner lip here in a small self-attack and whereas the brothers always used subtle tie-signs to raise each other’s spirits in public, there is no sign of any warmth or playful connection here whatsoever.”
Later this year, Prince Harry would say of William: "We are certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me."
Prince Harry and Meghan announced in January 2020 they would be stepping down as senior royals and relocating to North America.
At one of their last appearances together as a four at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in March of that year, the couples appeared to “blank” one another.
Judi said: “The last official appearance of the ‘Fab Four’ openly showed a very emphatic erosion of any kind of warmth, closeness, or even ease in each other’s company.
“They were to the point of openly avoiding or blanking each other and only Meghan seemed to be keen to apply the social smile that we can see here.
“Harry’s grim facial expression was reflecting the resentment and anger that we were to see emerge verbally in the Oprah interview, while William’s sucked-in lips suggested misery and regret.
“Kate’s facial expression had taken on a look of firmness here, with a lip-clamp and a rather stern eye-expression.”
After some time apart, the royals reunited this month in the wake of the Queen’s passing.
The women were on either side of their husbands, and the couples had very little interaction.
They told People: "It was awkward. Both couples found it hard.”
The last official appearance of the ‘Fab Four’ openly showed a very emphatic erosion of any kind of warmth, closeness, or even ease in each other’s company.Judi James
Judi agreed, saying: “Kate seems to have dropped all her ‘overkill’ signals that were used to pretend things were fine between them.
“She is the most distant in the line-up, stepping away from the group to simply get on with the job of meeting the mourning public.
“William’s body language displays the fact that, unlike the meeting between himself and Harry after Philip’s funeral, where Kate seemed to be instigating and nudging the choreography, this appearance is all his idea.
“His chest is splayed and there are none of his usual anxiety rituals with his hand gestures."
Judi added of the Duke of Sussex: “Harry is the one showing inner anxiety here, with the one hand to the waist hand barrier, and his hand clasp with Meghan looks like a mutual support system as well as a sign of affection."
Speaking of the difference behind their initial photos as a four, and now, Judi said: “This might look like one of the most awkward and frosty poses of them all but it is perhaps the most honest, with no real attempt at anything stronger than polite proximity between the two couples.
“Honesty is at least a vital stage in the rebuilding of any relationship, so the lack of acted denials or heavy-duty masking during this truce could possibly be a good sign for the future if there is going to be any possibility at all of some sort of a reconciliation to be brokered.”
One insider told the Mirror: "Any talk of a truce between the Prince and the Duke would only be temporary.
"There is still a serious amount of distrust in the air and there hasn’t been any cause for that to change."
They added that until Harry's memoir is released, it is felt that there is little point in trying to resolve the issues between them.
The book was due to be published in December but is likely to be delayed until next year out of respect for the late queen.