The world watched as Meghan Markle wed Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
The recently named Duke and Duchess of Sussex celebrated with family, friends and an estimated 100,000 onlookers who lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the procession. After much back-and-forth, the bride’s father, Thomas Markle, ultimately said he was unable to attend due to health issues. But her mother, Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor and social worker, was by Meghan’s side as she became an official member of the British royal family.
Ragland met some members of the royal family in the days leading up to the nuptials, including Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth. We asked body language experts to analyze Ragland’s behavior, posture and interactions with the royal family on the wedding day.
The public got a first glimpse of the bride and her mother as they pulled up to the chapel together, a moment captured in the image below.
Body language expert Traci Brown, author of Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech for Influence, noted that Meghan and her mom have similar ― though not identical ― excited expressions on their faces. Meghan’s smile appears more relaxed than her mother’s, which makes sense because Ragland isn’t as accustomed to being in the limelight.
“Her mom has her eyebrows raised and we can see more of the whites of her eyes. That says surprise,” Brown said. “I bet she’s just a tad overwhelmed with the crowds and attention. It’s understandable that she’s not going to be quite as used to the attention as her daughter, who’s spent the last year or so getting used to it. But she’s done a good job of practicing her beauty queen wave!”
Many royal wedding viewers also took note of Ragland’s interactions with Charles, who appeared to be going out of his way to make sure she felt comfortable and included.
Case in point: In the video above, we see Charles take Ragland’s hand as they leave to witness the signing of the marriage register. Joe Navarro, body language expert and author of What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, called this a particularly “lovely moment.”
“Prince Charles, who is not known for being touchy-feely even with his own children, made sure Markle’s mother transitioned, hand-in-hand, with the entourage to the register,” he said.
Mark Bowden, body language expert and author of Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking, said this royal wedding signifies not only the union of Harry and Meghan, but also that of their families ― and even the union of the U.S. and the U.K.
“Therefore, the way the two sides interact with each other, from the couple’s kiss to the physical placement and connection of family members with one another, has a bigger significance,” Bowden said.
As the royal family stood before the adoring public on the steps outside the chapel following the ceremony, Charles continued to show his warm support for Ragland.
“There is a saying in the U.K.: to be ‘treated like a Duchess,’ which means to be treated like royalty and given great service, respect and honor,” Bowden said. “Prince Charles shows Doria, the only family member present from the bride’s side, exactly the same physical treatment as the duchess on his other arm.”
“Though we could say this is just being polite, there is an etiquette in the royal circles which also bears huge weight and significance,” he added.
Brown also noticed that Charles acted protective of Ragland, and that Ragland seemed to depend on him in return.
“We always see her standing close with a hand on him,” Brown said. “I’m sure she’s not used to the kind of hubbub they’re all experiencing so we see her reach for the calming support.”
Charles frequently responded by resting a hand on Ragland and looking her in the eyes, as to give her his full attention.
“Even on Harry’s way out of the church, we see the groom look back to check on the family, only to find that Charles is taking care of Meghan’s mom,” Brown said.
An unnamed royal staffer told Vogue last week that Ragland and the royal family “all got on extremely well” during their pre-wedding sit-downs ― a sentiment that Brown observed during the actual nuptials.
“They’ve really embraced her as part of the group, showing their full support and just how classy they are,” she said.