The Hidden Meaning Behind Prince Harry's Bizarre Hand Gesture

So *that's* what that's about.

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Yes, we're still gawking at Meghan Markle's stunning diamond ring. But we've moved on—for a minute, at least—to Prince Harry's unusual hand gesture in their engagement photos outside Kensington palace. In many of the photos, you can see Harry's hand tucked nicely into his suit jacket.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce their engagement.

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And this isn't the first time that Harry has been spotted doing this, from movie premieres to engagements with First Ladies, Harry's nervous tick (or intentional gesture) has made an appearance.

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Prince Harry at the Grand Place in Belgium.'

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Prince Harry with Melania Trump at the Invictus Games

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So, this left us—and many others—wondering: Can we chalk this up to a bad habit, or does it have a deeper meaning? Traci Brown, body language expert and author of Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech Influence, said that Harry's behavior may be a combination of the two.

"First, it's likely a habit. He's seen this way quite a bit," she said. "He's covering his solar plexus area (the vital organs) and protecting it which just says he's not quite comfortable in the situation—who would be with all those photographers around and people like myself analyzing him?"

According to Blanca Cobb, body language expert and author of Method of the Masters, this gesture is Harry's way of putting his guard up when he's in public situations (AKA an engagement photo shoot with hundreds of photographers). "Prince Harry's arm placed across his abdomen serves as a barrier to separate or distance himself from something that he makes him uncomfortable. In this case, it could be having photos taken." It may also be a way to show others that he's protecting not only himself, but his loved ones nearby—we're talking about Ms. Markle, of course.

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Prince Harry with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.

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When Harry isn't in full-blown protection mode, he's often spotted tugging at his jacket. It could simply be that his suit is a little snug or he's trying to get himself camera-ready (ahem, he's royal after all). But Brown begs to differ. "When people tug at their wardrobe, they're typically uncomfortable and showing a bit of stress."

This behavior is equivalent to twirling your hair, biting your nails or even, repeatedly tapping your leg. "At that moment, Prince Harry is subconsciously reassuring himself from perceived anxiety or stress," Cobb said. "Given that Prince Harry is commonly seen making this gesture, I believe that he doesn't even realize that he's doing it."

Clearly, no matter how long you've been in the spotlight, the media attention is still hard to handle—at least for this Royal Highness.

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(Image credit: Marie Claire)
Amanda Garrity
Amanda Garrity

As the Associate Lifestyle Editor for GoodHousekeeping.com, Amanda oversees gift guides and covers home, holidays, food, and other lifestyle news. She treats award shows like a national holiday, finds any reason to give in to her sweet tooth (it doesn't take much), and is a pro at attempting Pinterest recipes.