ENTERTAINMENT
02/12/2017 01:33 SAST

Body Language Experts Decode Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's First Official Outing

These two aren’t afraid to show a little PDA.

After announcing their engagement earlier this week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their first official public appearance in Nottingham, England, for World AIDS Day on Friday. 

Prince Harry, who has previously spent time in Nottingham doing charity work, was “delighted to be introducing the city to Ms. Markle,” Kensington Palace said. “The visit today focuses on causes that [Harry] is particularly passionate about ― raising the awareness of HIV/AIDS and preventing youth crime.”

Judging by the photos, the public is clearly smitten with the royal couple: 

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
We imagine the card says, "Congrats, Megs and Harry! I haven't been this excited about an engagement since my own."

Some even brought U.S. flags to make the American-born actress feel more at home:

Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images
That U.S.-U.K. special relationship on display.

The prince and actress are obviously smitten with each other, too. In the year and a half they’ve been together, Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, have never been shy about PDA.

Given royal protocol ― and the relative stuffiness we’ve come to expect from the royal family ― body language expert Traci Brown thinks Markle’s Americanness may be rubbing off on Harry. (Let’s be honest, though: Prince Harry has always been the more relaxed, adventurous royal ― remember that time he partied naked in Las Vegas in 2012?)

“It’s true, Harry was already pretty ‘loose’ for a British royal, but Brits usually don’t show a lot of emotion or affection in public,” Brown told HuffPost. “These two are very affectionate in public. It’s very different from the almost stuffy engagement announcement of William and Kate several years back.”

What else can we glean from the pair’s body language at the events Friday? Below, Brown and fellow body language expert Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma, decode photos from the couple’s big day out.

  • Meghan Takes The Lead
    Samir Hussein via Getty Images
    Some body language experts have suggested that Markle comes across as the more dominant partner in the relationship. That certainly comes through in this photo, as she grabs Harry's hand and leads him on. Wood was most taken by the affection displayed in this pic, though.

    "Meghan's looking back at him and reaching out to hold his hand again [like she did at the engagement announcement]," she said. "Notice how her head comes down slightly and she tilts her head to look at him. That's such a beautiful little moment of intimacy. I find the adoration they show so charming."
  • Harry's Signature Move
    Samir Hussein via Getty Images
    This is a variation on Harry's sometimes-confusing signature hand pose. When he tucked his hand into his jacket at an event with first lady Melania Trump in September, some speculated that he was making the sign of the devil. It's a lot more innocuous than that, though: According to Brown, putting one’s hand on one’s stomach is an act of self-comfort.

    "Here again we see Harry guarding his solar plexus --  the part of your stomach, below your ribs, where it can be painful if you are hit hard," she said. "It's his habit and a way to guard against the media and crowds. It's something we need to get used to seeing as he's in the news more."
  • Peak PDA
    ANDY STENNING via Getty Images
    The pair couldn't have been more touchy-feely during their visit to Nottingham Academy.

    "I love how she leans down and into him here," Wood said. "It shows that she has respect for him and wants to connect in a tender way. And I love that genuine smile on her face!"
  • The Protectiveness
    Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images
    There's mirroring going on in these two shots; both Meghan and Harry look protective, reaching out as if to check in with one another while meeting the public. Sure, Meghan is used to being in the public eye as an actress, but life under the spotlight as a royal is an entirely new stratosphere of fame. 

    "You see that she wants that connection and comfort in these very public situations," Brown said. "Harry's more comfortable in them than she is at this point. It's really something to adjust to."
  • Meghan's Ease With The Public
    OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    Harry isn't in this one, but Wood was struck by Meghan's almost Princess Diana-esque ease and humility with the public. 

    "I loved how she bent down to get close to children," she said. "When she's interacting with each person, she greets them and makes it a private conversation, which is pretty incredible considering this is the first time she's out in an official capacity."
  • A Tight Grip
    Karwai Tang via Getty Images
    During the wedding announcement and BBC interview, Meghan often gripped Harry's hand and used her free hand to touch his elbow or back of his hand. It's one of the most interesting details of the couple's body language, Brown said.

    "She often  has two hands on Harry," she said. "That shows the deep, intimate connection that they have. It could also say that she needs to be in control, but we do see pics of Harry in the control position, too. They have a relationship where one complements the other and they each lead at appropriate times."
  • All Smiles
    MATT DUNHAM via Getty Images
    Has Prince Harry ever looked happier? This big, giant grin is clearly a good sign, Wood said.

    "I love his open mouth and big laugh here," she said. "He's always been a happy, playful person; his baseline is happy, but what's great is that it's not diminished with Meghan. He can be fully happy in her presence."
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