Queen's stoicism made way for open outpouring of grief from her family

The end of the royals’ stiff upper lip: The Queen’s stoicism has made way for King Charles’ emotion as he leads his family in a public outpouring of grief following the death of Her Majesty, body language expert says

  • The Queen’s endurance made way for open outpouring of grief from her family 
  • Princess Anne has appeared stoic and traditionalist, body language expert said
  • King Charles III may lead a charge against a stiff upper lip, Judi James said 
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

King Charles has led his family in a public outpouring of grief following the death of the Queen, breaking from the traditional ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality the royals have previously adopted in the face of personal loss, a body language expert has claimed.

The King has been open in sharing the emotion he feels following the death of his mother, setting the tone for the rest of the family who have put on teary displays this week, according to UK body language expert Judi James.

But whereas once displaying emotion might have been a sign of weakness, Charles understands it can be a strength. 

‘The Queen led the country through the war, where stoicism and emotional resilience might have been vital for survival,’ Judi told FEMAIL. ‘Charles has inherited a country coming out of an epidemic and also a country much more in touch with the subject of mental health, meaning emotional displays might create empathy with his public.’ 

Sophie Wessex, who had a particularly close relationship with Her Majesty, has been visibly ‘grief-stricken’ throughout the last week, while members of the Royal Family hugged and held hands as they read tributes to the Queen at Balmoral. 

The Princess of Wales fought back tears yesterday as she joined senior royals for the service at Westminster Hall. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie had to wipe their eyes as they became overcome with emotion.

King Charles has led his family in a public outpouring of grief following the death of the Queen, breaking from the traditional ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality the royals have previously adopted in the face of personal loss, a body language expert has claimed. Above, the King was open in sharing his grief when he met the public at a walkabout outside Buckingham Palace

The Countess of Wessex views the messages and floral tributes left by members of the public at Balmoral in Scotland on Saturday. Sophie has looked grief-stricken without, according to Judi

Prince Andrew, Duke of York stands with his arm around his daughter Princess Eugenie of York (centre) and Princess Beatrice of York as they look at the flowers placed outside Balmoral Castle. It is an example of the public displays of grief and affection demonstrated by the family

Catherine, Princess of Wales, was visibly emotional after the Queen’s coffin was conveyed to Westminster Hall. She has joined the family in their public displays of grief this week

The Queen cut a stoic figure at the funeral of her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She had to sit alone because of Covid rules

It marks a stark contrast to the unwavering stoicism demonstrated by Her Majesty in public, even in the face of tragedy. 

The Queen maintained her composure at the funeral of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh. 

‘For a Queen who lived through a war it was the perfect response to tragedy or drama and a stoic response became seen as a heroic ideal,’ Judi explained in an interview with FEMAIL.

‘When Diana died though there was a seismic shift in the public’s behaviour as they emoted openly and loudly with tears, sobs and even clapping as her coffin took its final journey.

‘For the royals, even this tragedy produced the expected stoic response, with Diana’s two young sons walking dry-eyed behind her coffin with little more than a brief pat from their grandfather to register sympathy.

Pictured: The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles walk outside Westminster Abbey during the funeral service for Diana in 1997

King Charles has already began to move away from this tradition, forging a path of more outward emotion. He was visibly upset at the funeral of his father the Duke of Edinburgh last April

‘The royals stuck to their guns, with the Queen stoic to the end, sitting bravely upright and terribly alone at her husband’s funeral, one of the last images of her reign that received universal praise for her strength of character.’

However King Charles has already began to move away from this tradition, forging a path of more outward emotion.

‘It was at Philip’s funeral and his thanksgiving service that we also began to see the first hint of a change of behaviour from the royals that led to the complete body language reversal that we have been seeing on the Queen’s death,’ Judi continued.

‘Charles was seen shedding tears at his father’s funeral, with Kate offering a consoling arm round his shoulders and Beatrice was so overcome with emotion that she had to hide her face with her order of service.

Judi continued: ‘This is such a dramatic change of culture and behaviour for the royals and it might have needed two different prompts: Firstly it could have required unspoken ‘permission’ from the top. I would guess that Charles’s tears at his father’s funeral might have provided this.

Princess Eugenie wept as senior royals attended a private church service for the Queen at Balmoral

Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, looks on outside Balmoral Castle, following the passing of her mother the Queen

Zara Tindall weeps as she and the Princess Royal, Andrew and Edward attended a private church service in Balmoral

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, views tributes outside Balmoral Castle on Saturday

The tearful King was driven to Buckingham Palace after his proclamation at St James’s Palace

‘Then it would have needed emotional validation. We could see quite quickly that it worked in terms of helping the royals like Sophie, Beatrice, Eugenie and Zara grieve together and the emotional display clearly resonated with the public, too.’

On Saturday the late Queen’s close family publicly grieved over the death of the elderly monarch at a private church service in Balmoral.

Prince Andrew consoled his weeping daughters Eugenie and Beatrice, before making a touching tribute about his mother and thanking well-wishers who laid floral tributes outside the gates of the Aberdeenshire estate. 

The tearful family wiped their eyes and embraced each other. Sophie Wessex appeared particularly moved. 

‘Sophie has become what seems to be an emotional hub of the royal family recently and her open show of grief for her father-in-law could have been something of a template for change in the others,’ Judi said. 

‘Now though, we have seen not just Charles in tears at his mother’s death, throwing his arms up and out towards the crowds in a gesture of empathy and open sharing of his state of mourning, but Sophie has looked grief-stricken throughout, crying and dabbing her eyes at the lying in state.

‘Then [yesterday] we [had] Eugenie wiping away tears and even Kate appearing to be on the brink of crying.’

Harry put his hand on his face while reading the order of service for Wednesday’s short ceremony in the heart of the Palace of Westminster 


Princess Beatrice was seen tearing up as the Queen’s coffin passed her during yesterday’s ceremony. While Princess Eugenie sought comfort in her husband Jack Brooksbank

Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice wiped away tears as they stood in front of the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall

The Princess Royal, who was given the important task of accompanying her mother’s coffin on the journey from Scotland. 

Judi added: ‘It seems to have been left to Princess Anne to retain the royal tradition of the stiff upper lip. 

‘Travelling with her mother’s coffin and looking largely solitary and silent in her sadness as she does so, she has so far clung to her parent’s ideal of masking emotions in public. It seems to be costing her dear though. 

‘One glance at her pained features as she walked behind the coffin, barely taking her eyes off it in what looks like an attempt to keep guard and to protect to the end and it’s hard not to hope that there are hugs, tears and lots of sympathy waiting for her once she is back home with her family.’

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