Prince Harry Was “Happy to Take a Back Seat” During Meghan Markle’s One Young World Speech: Body Language Expert

We love a supportive husband.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex makes the keynote speech during the Opening Ceremony of the One Young World Summit 2022 at The Bridgewater Hall on September 05, 2022 in Manchester, England.
(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty)

Whenever Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear in public, it’s always a major event. Indeed, since they retired from royal life, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have preferred to work behind the scenes on a number of projects—including a blockbusting podcast, a Netflix documentary (or two), charity work, and trying out that C-suite life.

But ICYMI, the Sussexes are currently in the middle of a highly anticipated mini European tour, which unofficially started with their reportedly mutual avoidance of the Cambridges in Windsor, but officially started with the duchess’ keynote address as part of the One Young World Summit in Manchester.

Markle has been a counselor for the young leaders in the organization for a long time, and this was her time to shine, with her husband taking on the role of devoted supporter—at least according to body language expert Darren Stanton. And while detractors will be all too quick to criticize that particular dynamic, I’d really like to know what’s wrong with one spouse encouraging the other in their personal projects.

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (L) and Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, react as they attend the annual One Young World Summit at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, north-west England on September 5, 2022.

(Image credit: OLI SCARFF/Getty)

“Ahead of her speech, Meghan was completely stoic and very focused,” Stanton tells Marie Claire on behalf of Betfair Casino.

“From the moment she and Harry entered the auditorium it was clear this was very much Meghan’s event. She was a stride ahead of Harry as they walked into the room, signifying her confidence and her dominance in that moment, as Harry remained slightly behind, adopting a supportive role instead.” 

For Stanton, the duchess didn’t display a demeanor as open as usual, which might point to her nervousness ahead of her big speech.

“Meghan is a very good speaker and clearly very experienced in standing front and center,” he explains.

“There’s no denying her speech was impressive—although, it seemed like her smiles were rehearsed and appeared less than genuine at times.

“This could be Meghan’s attempt to mask her internal emotions, potentially nerves she felt in the moment, as people have a tendency to do so when in the spotlight.” I mean, it checks out.

By all accounts, the Archetypes host gave a very inspiring speech to the assembled crowd. “I see the world through my children and try to imagine how the world will be when they will be adults,” she said (via Harper’s Bazaar).

“You are the ones driving the positive and necessary change across the globe now, in this very moment. And for that I am so grateful to be in your company today.”

To underline the power of her words, the duchess stole a trick from the Kate Middleton Book of Dressing for the Occasion (could Pippa write this? I would like to read it).

“Similarly to Kate Middleton, Meghan has her own go-to colors which she wears depending on the occasion she is attending,” Stanton continues.

“For her speech, knowing she would be center-stage, Meghan chose the shade of red, an extremely powerful color, one that denotes being supremely confident and is often associated with superheroes—wearing such a color shows the mindset Meghan wanted to adopt for that particular event.”

The duchess opted for a gorgeous firetruck red pantsuit by sustainable brand Another Tomorrow, made up of a bow blouse with a soft silhouette, and tailored pants for a more businesslike look.

: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex clapping during the Opening Ceremony of the One Young World Summit 2022 at The Bridgewater Hall on September 05, 2022 in Manchester, England.

(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty)

As for the duke, he wasn’t entirely in his element, per Stanton, but he tried his best to be a supportive partner.

“Harry, meanwhile, was happy to take a backseat at the event, always hanging back and allowing Meghan the time to soak up the adulation shown towards her,” Stanton says.

“It’s worth noting that Harry didn’t appear completely at ease. He was showing signs of frustration and appeared anxious throughout his appearance and looked almost like a fish out of water at times.

“We saw Harry fidgeting with his hands as he was sitting watching Meghan on stage, he was playing with his suit jacket—both self-reassurance gestures a person makes.

“Whenever Meghan gestured towards Harry, we saw Harry flash a fake smile, suggesting his internal emotions were not cohesive with how he was trying to portray himself.”

Yes, I, too, would feel uncomfortable if I knew my every move was being scrutinized for signs of weakness.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex during the Opening Ceremony of the One Young World Summit 2022 at The Bridgewater Hall on September 05, 2022 in Manchester, England.

(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty)
Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.