No matter who Time magazine decides to put on the next cover, in my book, Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, is the unequivocal person of the year. The American actress who stole the heart of a British prince, and ours in the process, has become a beloved presence at royal functions, breathing new life into a stale monarchy. People all over the world are obsessed with the duchess' every move, but they are especially enamoured with Markle and Prince Harry's genuine love for each other.
"The reason why we are fascinated by them is because they are so likeable, and their love is so real," Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma tells Refinery29. Wood studied a number of photos of Markle with her new husband and family and emphasised the couple’s habit of congruent touching, which means “They each go to do the exact same touch to each other, and that leads to high marital satisfaction," she says, adding, "That’s an incredibly good sign for them."
According to Wood, Markle’s connections with Harry can be categorised into two different types of contact: She offers Harry a comforting and reassuring touch on the hand or the arm when she senses his anxiety. Or she reaches out to get comforted by him in large crowds. “She does it in both directions — she’s not just a taker, and she’s not just a giver,” Wood explains, making special note of Harry’s reciprocation of the same type of contact.
Even though Markle was an actress and used to the public eye, the heightened level of scrutiny she's now being subjected to is a whole new world. "I don’t think the world even knows the sound of all the cameras that she hears...and the shouts. It’s terrifying," Wood says. The fact that Markle is able to find a comforting presence in her partner is a testament to the health of her relationship with Harry.
What about the critics who turn their noses up at the hand holding and public displays of affection? Is Markle acting needy, as naysayers have claimed? Wood shrugs them all off. "Needy would be her reaching, with a look of longing, and him not reciprocating." Markle is just reaching out with affection, and "she looks absolutely satisfied." So that's that.
Ahead, Wood analyses how Markle's body language has changed throughout her years in the public eye, tracing the evolution of the American who became royalty and her relationships.