Kate Middleton Makes Two Signature Moves Whenever She Steps Out with Prince William, Body Language Expert Claims

Once you see them, you can’t unsee them.

Kate Middleton Prince William
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve seen Kate Middleton step out for royal engagements countless times in her 11 years as a member of the royal family—many of them alongside husband Prince William.

But, as many times as we’ve seen the Duchess of Cambridge out in public—including this past week at the unveiling of she and William’s first official portrait together at the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum—her body language can be dialed down to just two signature moves, body language expert Judi James says, as reported on in The Sun. Both moves were on display at the portrait unveiling, and both reveal much about the Cambridges’ marriage, James says.

First up: the fig leaf pose, which James says is a “self-protective barrier ritual.”

“In the years before he met Kate, William was often seen performing what is known as the fig leaf pose, with his hands clasped in front of his torso at roughly the same place as a fig leaf would sit on a classical nude statue,” she says. “The gesture is a self-protective barrier ritual that tends to be adopted when a guy feels uncomfortable, shy, or defensive. It made William look bashful and suggested he felt awkward in front of the press cameras.”

And, James says, even though marriage and fatherhood seem to have developed William’s social confidence, “he still has his fig leaf moments during public visits,” she says.

And, when William does this pose, Kate uses mirroring or postural echo to copy this gesture, often standing with her own hands in an identical position.

“Mirroring signals like-minded thinking and, in Kate’s case, the way she mimics his pose and makes it look much more elegant and less anxious helps to make William look less defensive or barriered by proxy,” James says. “It’s a sign of empathy as well as love and the frequent, subliminal mirroring traits the Cambridges use are a subtle but powerful sign of their closeness as partners and strong, like-minded bonds as future monarchs.”

The second signature move is Kate’s “adoring gaze on her husband, connecting with her eyes and her smile,” James says. “If her hand clasp is a mirroring gesture, this gazing seems to be a ‘leading’ ritual, aimed at bringing out William’s happier, fun side during their public appearances.”

James points out that “William hasn’t always had the happiest relationship with the cameras, and he did have a reputation for being a bit moody a few years ago.” But she remarks, “Kate’s smile acts as a state-changer as she teases him silently into smiling back.”

Kate acts as an uplift for her husband, James says.

“During a long day packed with royal visits, it would be like a mini-energy and mood booster, and it is nearly always met with a coy smile or a grin of pleasure from William,” she says.

And once you see the two signature moves—you’ll notice them everywhere with these two.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.