​Body language experts analyse Queen Elizabeth's relationship with her children
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Chances are, you don’t know a huge amount about the Queen’s four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. People know and love them as public figures but, behind closed doors, they largely remain a mystery.

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“While Queen Elizabeth is groomed and trained in posture, you can still tell how much she adores her children,” Susan Constantine, human behavioural expert and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reading Body Language, tells GoodHousekeeping.com. Below, we explore the unique relationship that the Queen has with each of her four children.

Prince Charles

The Queen is spotted with her firstborn Prince Charles much more than her other children. Most likely, it’s because he’s next in line to the throne. “It’s interesting to note that their relationship is very fun and playful,” Constantine tells us. “When they’re together, they’re both fully embracing the moment.”

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Their public appearances are more reserved than seen with most mother-and-son relationships. “Even when he’s kissing her (a common greeting for royals), you can tell that Prince Charles is using this moment to get in touch with his mother by looking directly at her and even smelling her scent,” explains Constantine. While the handholding follows protocol, it also displays a level of intimacy and emotion, which is something you don’t see every day… especially from royals.

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But here’s where their relationship really shines: the polo matches. “You can literally see the story unfold in this picture,” Constantine says. “She’s completely connected with him.” The slight touch of the arm. The genuine laughter. The way Charles is looking at his mother.

Princess Anne

As the only daughter of the Queen, it appears that Princess Anne had it tougher than the boys, at least according to Constantine. “If I didn’t know they were mother and daughter, I wouldn’t think they’re related.” The distance and formality between them is evident but one may just chalk it up to protocol.

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“In this particular instance, we see the two women interact in a seemingly loving way,” Patti Wood, body language expert and author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charismatells GoodHousekeeping.com. “Although they’re holding hands and kissing, their bodies still remain far apart.”

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Sure, they’re laughing here, but what about Princess Anne’s posture? “They’re clearly amused with one another but Anne is pulling away from the Queen,” explains Wood. And then there’s the Queen’s face. “Her nose is rippled, eyebrows are raised, and she even has a forced smile,” explains Constantin. But, of course, there may be more to the story than we know.

Prince Andrew

The admiration that Prince Andrew has for his mother is unmatched. “You can see it in his eyes,” says Constantine. “His eyes are always in the direction of the Queen, which is the way that he honours and respects her.”

But when you take a deeper dive into the photos, there’s a sense of nervousness displayed by the Prince — and even, the Queen. “Tucking, pulling, or adjusting clothing is a comfort cue,” explains Wood. “It’s very rare to see the Queen perform one of these self-soothing gestures but in this moment with her son, she’s doing just that.”Despite any suspected anxiety or stress, the two are still in sync with mirroring strides.

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The formality of their relationship may be difficult for both parties.

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“In this moment, it’s clear that Prince Andrew wants to be close to his mother … but can’t,” explains Wood. “His hand is clenched in a fist to hold back from being more intimate.” Since he can’t lend a hand, Prince Andrew physically turns his body towards his mother to show how he cares for her.

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Prince Edward

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When the Queen is around Prince Edward, she stretches her neck toward him, leans her shoulders, and has a genuine smile. “Her body language is screaming, ‘that’s my baby!‘,” says Constantine.

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When given the opportunity, the Queen splits her time equally between her two youngest sons (Prince Andrew left, Prince Edward right). “It’s a good sign that there’s equal distance between the two of them,” explains Constantine. “You can also sense the difference between Edward and Andrew: Edward is reserved like his mother and Andrew is intense and powerful.”

The Final Verdict

The Queen’s relationship with her children is unlike almost every other family on the planet. “There’s an instant barrier between them,” explains Wood. “Their relationships aren’t indicative of a normal family relationship because the children have to know that their mother loves them without receiving physical touch.” Of course, we can only judge by their public appearances; what goes on behind the palace doors will always remain a mystery.

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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK