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On the heels of Prince Harry’s visit to London, England, King Charles III and Prince William made a joint appearance. The king officially handed over command of Britain’s Army Air Corps, the Duke of Sussex’s old regiment, to his oldest son. In doing so, the king and Prince of Wales, 41, offered a glimpse of their father-son relationship. 

Charles and William ditched ‘formality’ to be father and son

On May 13, 2024, in a ceremony at an airfield, King Charles made William Colonel-in-Chief of Britain’s Army Air Corps. (Spoiler: The monarch didn’t mention Harry’s service as a commentator previously suggested.) According to body language expert Judi James, however, when the two stood together was really telling.

“It was when Charles stood with his son William though that we got some gloriously open signals of mutual fondness and playful appreciation,” she said (via Daily Mail). “This was not the body language of a king and his heir. And despite the importance of the moment, there was no solemnity or formality.” 

Instead, King Charles and William leaned into their father and son roles as opposed to monarch and heir. 

“What the two men showed us was pure father/son body language,” James said. “And this was almost the first time they have treated us to a glimpse of the true nature of their relationship as it stands today.” 

She noted that in the past, William often appeared to be “egging his father on to pose for the press and trying to instigate some smiles from his more reluctant dad” and later, “chatting or standing together.” 

The ceremony, however, showed a different dynamic. “Here they showed their capacity for mutual fun and what looked like their sheer joy in one another’s company.” 

The outing marked the pair’s first appearance together since the king’s cancer diagnosis in February 2024 and Kate Middleton’s a month later. 

King Charles and William hinted at an ‘intensely affectionate relationship’ 

King Charles and Prince William, who showed their father son relationship, at a May 13 joint appearance
King Charles and Prince William | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The father and son’s body language during the appearance also signaled they were carefree, at least in that moment. 

“William looks confident and capable here,” James said. Meanwhile, “Charles’s playful approach does seem to suggest he knows his elder son can handle this new role easily and keenly.” 

“Neither man looks weighed down by the thought of fallouts that involve Harry. In fact, the word ‘oblivious’ springs to mind [when] looking at these poses.” 

Their behavior, in the expert’s opinion, pointed to “an intensely affectionate relationship that has gained in intensity over the past couple of years.” Furthermore, one that’s “now deepened via the shared experience of Charles and Catherine’s illnesses.” 

“They look like two men focused on overcoming those illnesses while repairing the royal Firm and very little else,” she added. 

William appeared at his ‘most relaxed’ since Kate Middleton’s cancer diagnosis alongside his father

James also noted William’s “relaxed” air at the father-son appearance, saying the 41-year-old’s demeanor signaled he was more at ease than he had been in recent months. 

“William’s body language suggested an air of almost loving relief and delight to be sharing the moment with his father after what must have been worries about his illness that would also have held ramifications for his own role as a royal,” she said. 

Indeed, the Prince and Princess of Wales have reportedly dealt with “tremendous anxiety” regarding the possibility of heading for the throne sooner. 

“This is perhaps the most relaxed William has looked recently, since Catherine’s illness, too,” James said. “His focus here seems to be primarily as a son towards [sic] his father. And the fact that this is a family moment seems to be pinned up there even higher than the bestowing and accepting of the role.”

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