Prince William and Princess Kate have been in love for a long time—nearly 20 years, to be exact. (While we don’t know exactly when the two started dating, they met as freshmen at the University of St. Andrews in the fall of 2001, became friends and even roommates, and were a couple by either 2002 or 2003.) Over those two decades, their love has no doubt grown in many ways; in addition to being a couple for 20 years—nearly half of their lives, as both are 41—they have been married for 12 of those years, and, as they’ve grown up and matured, so has their romance. But William has a particularly romantic method he uses to convey his love for Kate, a body language expert said, per The Mirror.
“William and Kate have been keeping royal fans, and each other, supplied with a stream of romantic gestures, tie-signs and touch rituals since they first married, but their technique seems to be driven by inclusion,” said body language expert Judi James. “We can see they are a romantic and in love couple, but they never allow their body language rituals together to exclude the viewer.”
Though historically pretty private about their love, the two have been packing on the PDA since becoming Prince and Princess of Wales back in September. This week alone, we got a bum pat from Kate to William at King Charles’ second Coronation ceremony in Scotland, and a kiss between the two while at polo.
And, though the public displays of affection may be more frequent, they’re still understated and not too over the top, James said. “Subtlety is vital for their public role and, as royals, they provide signals that they are a strong couple, which is important after the dysfunctional relationship dramas of the previous generation of royals,” she said. “They maintain an even, steady emotional trend rather than a soap opera of passionate highs and lows.”
There is no official royal protocol surrounding PDA, but, as with many aspects, the pace is typically set by the monarch. Queen Elizabeth and her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, did not partake in PDA, so, as such, most of the royal family avoided it as well while she was sovereign. (Another example: Her late Majesty preferred light pink or nude nail polish. As such, that’s what the women of the royal family mostly adopted for themselves, in deference to her preference. Now that she has passed away and the current monarch is not someone who wears nail polish publicly, the rules have relaxed, a la Kate’s red manicure for Easter Sunday this year.) Since the late Queen’s death last September, William and Kate have relaxed their once pretty rigid rules surrounding being openly affectionate in public, and “when they enter one another’s personal space on tours and visits, William in particular seems to be unable to avoid breaking what often seems to be his own rules of non-tactile public behavior and intensifying the romance of the moment via gestures like this little nuzzling kiss of her hair,” James said. “The gestures are often more for him than her, as she might not even be aware at that moment, but this is a trait many couples will share.”
Other senses, like smell or sight, will often motivate one to employ touch, as well. “Proximity will suddenly bombard the senses, meaning William will smell Kate’s perfume or her hair as he suddenly moves into her close orbit, making him motivated by the desire to get even closer and involve touch too,” James said.
While we sometimes get public displays of affection, privately, according to The Sun, Kate uses two nicknames for her husband, said affectionately: “Baldy” and “Big Willy.” William, for his part, uses the pet names “Babykins” and “DoD”—which apparently stands for “Duchess of Dolittle.” (The couple that can poke fun at one another stays together.)
Recently, the couple has also been overheard using more traditional pet names: At the Chelsea Flower Show back in 2016, they were heard calling one another “babe” and “darling.” Landscape gardener Charlie Albone told Grazia U.K. that, when William asked Kate about a plant, she replied “Babe, we’ve got those. We’ve got loads of those.”
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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.
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