Princess Diana Looked "Uncomfortable and Defensive" in Engagement Photoshoot, Body Language Expert Says

Not ideal...

Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer
(Image credit: Getty/Mirrorpix)

We sadly all know that Princess Diana and Prince Charles' marriage wasn't a happy one. But for body language expert Darren Stanton, there were warning signs from the very beginning—starting with their engagement photos, which looked stilted and, well, unhappy.

The expert commented on the series of official pictures, which were taken in Feb. 24, 1981, 41 years ago.

"The mind and body are inextricably linked and often what we are thinking is revealed by our body position and the gestures we make," Stanton explains to Marie Claire on behalf of Slingo.

"Diana had been plunged into the limelight on a global scale and in her official engagement photos it’s apparent that this level of attention was obviously very daunting and all new to her."

Charles Diana Engagement

(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

For Stanton, Charles' manner in the photos tells a very different story.

"Charles, however, was more used to being in the public eye and the expressions he is displaying in the photos don’t seem to be consistent with the emotions he is trying to convey," he says. "Instead, we can assume that Charles is just going through the motions because, unlike Diana, he was so used to having his photograph taken."

Charles Diana Engagement

(Image credit: Getty/Hulton Archive/Stringer)

The soon-to-be princess was positioned in a way that betrayed her apparent discomfort.

"Diana appears nervous and in some photos is seen with her arm positioned across her chest in what is known as a self-reassurance hug," Stanton describes.

"This posture tends to be adopted by those that are feeling uncomfortable in their environment, suggesting Diana was nervous and quite intimidated by the level of attention she was receiving."

Charles Diana Engagement

(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

And those are not the only sad details visible in the photos—Stanton also suggests that Diana's outfit felt unnatural for her. 

"This is also visible through Diana’s outfit she is wearing," he says. "The royal blue suit she wore to announce her engagement to Charles may be an iconic outfit of the '80s, but it was everything Diana was not.

"The high neckline and longer skirt would have adhered to royal protocol, but seems a little too stuffy and sensible for her liking. It would have been the 'appropriate' choice for Diana to wear, given the official occasion she was wearing it to, but I can’t help but feel she looks uncomfortable and defensive while sporting it—suggesting she didn’t enjoy the spotlight she was being thrust into."

Charles Diana Engagement

(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

But it doesn't seem like it was just the spotlight Diana didn't love—she and Charles didn't seem affectionate with each other at all.

"As for Charles, while he appears quite calm and seems comfortable, not surprisingly as they are in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, he lacks sincerity in his emotion—this is visible by his face failing to appear completely engaged—and there appears to be a disconnect between himself and Diana, as he is leaning away rather than in towards his fiancée," Stanton says.

Charles Diana Engagement

(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)
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 British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. 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.