The Royal Family Didn’t Look Anything Like a United Front in This 2023 Image, According to a Body Language Expert

Say, cheese. The British royal family stands on the Buckingham Palace balcony every year during Trooping the Colour. However, the 2023 parade didn’t produce images of a small yet “loyal group,” according to a body language expert. Instead, royals resembled “factions” in “conflict.” 

Only working royals stood on the balcony for 2023’s Trooping the Colour 

Working British royals stands on the Buckingham Palace balcony during 2023's Trooping the Colour
2023 Trooping the Colour | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Trooping the Colour, the sovereign’s official birthday parade, historically means appearances by plenty of royals. The result is typically photos and videos of royals crowding the balcony. In recent years, however, the royal family’s cut the guest list to include only working royals. 

Enter 2023’s Trooping the Colour, King Charles’s first after taking the throne in September 2022. The 74-year-old continued with the same format as the previous year, having working royals join him. 

According to body language expert Judi James, the overall look in photos from Trooping the Colour wasn’t necessarily the greatest. “The composition of this ‘slimmed down’ royal balcony pose looks like a gappy smile with several teeth missing,” James told Express.

A group of just 14 working royals joined King Charles and Queen Camilla on the palace balcony. They included Prince William, Kate Middleton, as well as the couple’s three children. 

Prince Edward and Sophie, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, were also there. As were Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence. 

Rounding out the group were Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, as well as Prince Richard and Princess Birgitte, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. 

Royals who weren’t there, but have done balcony appearances in the past, included royals such as Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, and Zara Tindall. 

The royal family looked like ‘factions in apparent conflict’ on the Buckingham Palace balcony

One big happy family wasn’t exactly the message royals conveyed on the balcony during Trooping the Colour. According to James, how they stood, specifically in small groups, underscored the current divide among family members.

“Instead of a smaller, tighter, loyal group it looks like five factions in apparent conflict,” the expert said. Anne and her husband stood “awkwardly at one end.” Then there were the Prince and Princess of Wales in a “glittering but slightly cordoned-off family group” alongside their kids; Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5. 

As for King Charles and Queen Camilla, they took in “all the goodwill from the crowds in the middle.” Finally, the king’s youngest brother, Edward, and sister-in-law, Sophie, appeared to be trying “hard to create some sociable links with the Gloucesters at the other end.” 

Ultimately, the overall look wasn’t one of unity, per the expert. “Any ‘One united family group’ vibe seems to be totally lacking,” James said.

In previous years under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the group on the balcony was much larger, James noted. Because, as she explained, the late monarch had both working and non-working royals, all of whom appeared “animated and excited,” with her.

Balcony pose ‘gaps’ emphasized absent royals, ‘tragic’ stories

The British royal family on the Buckingham Palace balcony in 2018
2018 Trooping the Colour | James Devaney/FilmMagic

James continued, saying the small number of royals on the palace balcony only highlighted those who weren’t there for the festivities.

“The gaps only call to mind the people who are missing,” the expert said. “Charles once had a mother, father, brother, son, and his son’s family to mingle with.” Whereas, in this instance, on the occasion of his first Trooping the Colour as sovereign, the king waved to crowds as part of a slimmed-down monarchy. 

“Each of the gaps now seems to tell its own tragic or murky tale,” James explained. Unlike Trooping the Colours of the past, the king didn’t have his youngest son, the Duke of Sussex, there or the Duke of York. 

“The dynasty seems to have been dismissed or scattered, leaving this tentative group that is left looking like uneasy survivors of a business cull,” James concluded. 

Showbiz Cheat Sheet acknowledges conditions and cultures can impact body language and is sensitive to all backgrounds.

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