Royals ‘have never appeared quite so emotional than at Philip’s funeral’

Mike Bedigan, PA
·4-min read

The royal family has never appeared “quite so emotional” as during the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, an expert has said.

Judi James, author and body language expert, said the royals appeared “surprised at how hard Philip’s death had hit them” during the service on Saturday afternoon.

Here she looks at how the senior figures in attendance handled the events.

– The Queen

The monarch, who turns 95 next week, looked “very vulnerable and frail” as she arrived for the service, but remained “the most animated royal”, Ms James said.

“When she was sitting in her seat at the chapel she was wearing a hat that covered her face mostly.

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
The Queen seated for her husband’s funeral in St George’s Chapel (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“But she was still very much head of The Firm and was probably the most animated royal there, chatting to the bishop when she arrived.

“She was still in control of the day to a certain extent but there was a moment in the car on the way there when you could see her dabbing her eyes so she was clearly quite tearful.”

– The Prince of Wales

Charles “attempted to be stoic”, but became more upset during the coffin procession and became “isolated in his own grief” as the funeral continued, said Ms James.

“He’s never shown much emotion but he did look genuinely distraught,” she said.

“After the procession it was downhill all the way for him – his eyes got very red and damp as he followed the coffin, but by the time he got to the church he was visibly in tears.”

Ms James said she had been interested to see if there would be any connection between the Duke of Sussex and Charles, following the controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“(Harry) was quite scathing about his father in the interview…but Charles was too isolated in his own grief,” she said.

“I got the impression he was probably feeling as isolated as his mother was at that point.”

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
Judi James said Charles ‘attempted to be stoic’ but became more upset as the procession continued (Hannah McKay/PA)

– The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex

William and Harry were seen chatting as they left the chapel following the service, something that Ms James was surprised at.

“There was absolutely no clues that they were about to do that,” she said.

She added that before the exchange, Harry was “trying to look a bit nonchalant”, but had “building signs of anxiety”.

“You could see him pulling his jacket or his waistcoat down and then when he got into the chapel he did a shoulder roll which is usually a sign that someone is bracing themselves and trying to make themselves feel more confident,” she said.

During the service, William “kept his head down a lot” and then “bolted for the exit” with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge.

“Then we had this quite amazing scene where… Harry caught up with them and walked quite naturally between them,” said Ms James.

“Kate turned her head and was immensely affectionate and chatty and then after a breath-taking moment suddenly William turned round and (he and Harry) started chatting.

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
Peter Phillips, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex during the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral (Alastair Grant/PA)

“It was almost like the old days. Kate backed away which she wouldn’t have done if she thought there was going to be any problems.”

Ms James said that the exchange “didn’t have the hallmarks” of a set up, and that the brothers looked “reasonably relaxed”.

“As far as I’ve heard there were no ambulances involved when they got round the corner… which I think is remarkable,” she said.

– The Duke of York

Ms James said she found Andrew’s body language “slightly pompous”.

“I imagine from the subtleties of his body language that he probably does believe he is back in the front line again now,” she said.

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
The Duke of York ahead of his father’s funeral (Chris Jackson/PA)

Ms James said Sophie, Countess of Wessex, had been “the most magnificent royal buffer and airbag”, keeping an eye on the Queen and chatting to Harry to “make things go smoothly”.

She added that she had personally noted the “levels of grief” in the eyes of Mike Tindall, who was at one point “lost in reflection” during the service.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Commenting on the family as a whole, she said: “It was almost as though they were surprised themselves at how hard Philip’s death had hit them.

“They’re clearly going through ongoing turmoil…and as a family member I do think he will be irreplaceable for them.”