A body language expert on how Harry and Meghan's relationship has fared this past year

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are celebrating their first wedding anniversary [Photo: Getty]
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are celebrating their first wedding anniversary [Photo: Getty]

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are fast approaching their first wedding anniversary. And what a year it’s been.

Before they raising a glass on Sunday to toast twelve months of wedded bliss the royal couple will have travelled to the other side of the world, started a new Insta account, moved into their own pad, oh and welcomed a baby boy.

On the not-so-celebratory front, however, they’ve also had to cope with some rather difficult family drama, media scrutiny and some pretty unpleasant trolling.

The first year post-nuptials can be a special yet strenuous time for many newlyweds, but with the added busyness and prying eyes that come with being a royal couple Harry and Meghan have weathered more than most.

“The first year of a marriage can be an incredibly fun, yet testing time,” explains Anna Williamson, mind coach, relationship expert and author of How Not to Lose It: Mental Health Sorted.

“It’s a time for working out how you co-habit together, likes, dislikes, and absolute dealbreakers (loo seat left up anyone?)! It’s also often a time of compromise and self-discovery as you establish your new identity as a married person.”

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But as Anna points out Meghan and Harry have not had your typical first year of marriage.

“Meghan giving up her previous career and joining such an institution as the royal family, would not have come with some hiccups at working out where she fits in - after all, she didn’t just marry Harry, she married the world's most famous family too!”

So how have these added complications impacted the royal couple for the better or worse?

Welcoming baby Archie has topped off an eventful year [Photo: Getty]
Welcoming baby Archie has topped off an eventful year [Photo: Getty]

Surviving a year of Heaven and Hell

According to body language expert Judi James despite the chaos of their first year of marriage the Duke and Duchess still seem to be in the honeymoon period.

“It’s clear from their body language that Harry and Meghan are floating on a puffball of bliss just now thanks to their early-days intensity of love and sexually-charged passion for one another plus their beautiful new baby to create a strong family unit,” she explains.

For the Duke in particular, the past twelve months have represented a shift in responsibility, something he seems to be relishing.

“Harry has moved from the roles of younger brother and single son to husband of a beautiful, eloquent and confident US actress and father of one,” Judi continues.

“Throughout the year-long process he’s looked like a man who can’t quite believe his luck.

“Unlike his older brother who rather arrogantly kept his wife waiting on the hook until she acquired the nickname ‘Waity Katy’, Harry knew a good deal when he saw one and snaffled Meghan up, marrying her and starting a family in the space of the one year.”

The pressure of change

While marriage and babies tend to have their own impact on a relationship it’s important to note the massive additional pressures the royal couple have been under, especially Meghan.

“Change can cause pressure but that pressure often only converts to stress when the changes are out of your control,” explains Judi.

And with Meghan those changes were measured. In other words, she would have had some idea about what the first year of being a fully fledged royal might entail.

“Meghan appeared to cope with the change in culture from Hollywood to Windsor and the changes involved in what was her second marriage,” Judi explains.

“She left her career, her lifestyle, her dogs, her mother and her friends behind but threw herself into royal life with what looked like a positive, upbeat approach because all these changes had been her choice.”

But that isn’t to say that the Duchess wouldn’t have encountered any difficulties adapting to her new life.

“The Alice in Wonderland world of royal life that required her to move, sit and dress differently and take her place in a complex pecking order must have been difficult for a free spirit from a non-class-based country,” Judi continues.

Relationship experts believe the couple have survived a difficult first year [Photo: Getty]
Relationship experts believe the couple have survived a difficult first year [Photo: Getty]

Public scrutiny and the ghost of Diana

Judi James says that both Harry and William are haunted by the memories of how their mother, Princess Diana, was treated by the press and this will no doubt have had an impact on the Duke of Sussex’s first year of marriage.

“William has gone to great pains to keep interest in Kate to a polite minimum but when Harry married a US celebrity all bets threatened to be off and not only was there the intrusion to deal with, there was Harry’s own desire to protect his wife,” she explains.

But despite Harry’s best attempts, the couple, particularly Meghan, have found themselves on the receiving end of some pretty relentless trolling.

“Meghan lives in an age of social media trolls and despite her initial popularity the Tall Poppy syndrome soon kicked in with a constant stream of criticism from every part of the media,” Judi explains.

“Harry knows his wife has a successful, glamorous life to return to in the US if things get too much and this could have made him rather insecure and desperate to protect her from all the criticism,” Judi continues.

The couple, however, seem to have survived the social media storm, their relationship well and truly in tact, indicated by a minimal change in their body language.

“This in itself says a lot about their relationship,” she explains. “A younger, less experienced or even more manipulative bride could easily have activated Harry's protective side, meaning we would have been seeing him using frequent eye-checking and reassurance signals when they were in public and even some signs of resentment from Harry when they spoke to or posed for the press.”

Judi says it was also telling that Meghan stated she never reads comments about herself in the press.

“This was a much more modern and resilient version of the royals' tradition 'Never explain, never complain' mantra,” she explains. “But the effect would be the same, ie a kind of an invincible approach, letting any critics know that their attacks just aren't working.”

According to Judi Meghan's professional experience as an actress makes her a unique figure in the royal family.

“As a budding star she would have been actively courting the press and publicity, whereas Harry and his father's generation have been brought up to see it as a bit of a necessary pain in the neck,” she explains.

“Meghan seems to 'get it' more than her husband and her constant signals of upbeat happiness and confidence and a feminist aura that suggests she can look after herself will make life much easier for Harry in the long-term.”

Family feuds

Trolling aside, Judi predicts that the most painful pressure Meghan has experienced this year has been from the behaviour of the father she clearly loved and her step-siblings.

The fact that the whole thing played out in public will only have added to the pressure.

Despite the turmoil she may have been going through, the Duchess appears to have floated through all this and still come out smiling even if, as Judi suspects, the emotions backstage might have been very different.

According to Judi it is Meghan’s confident, assertive approach, which has no doubt helped the couple weather the Markle family turmoil.

“If she had acted vulnerable Harry could easily have over-reacted as he did when they were dating, when he appeared to be squaring up for a fight with the press over intrusion,” Judi explains.

“With Meghan increasing her signals of resilience and reassurance though, Harry was able to do his solo baby announcement looking openly ecstatic and very chummy towards the journalists.”

How has the couple's relationship fared during a tricky first year? [Photo: Getty]
How has the couple's relationship fared during a tricky first year? [Photo: Getty]

Happy ever after?

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Judi James thinks it has. “Despite all this pressure the couple clearly do seem to be coping and coping well,” she says.

She puts this partly down to Meghan’s determination and the role she appears to take in the relationship.

“When she spoke with pride and love about her ‘two great guys’ she illustrated a quality she has shown throughout her engagement and marriage: that of a strong, quasi-maternal presence for both her husband and now her child,” she explains.

“She appeared to have sensed Harry’s struggle with the press and uses gestures and touch rituals that suggest steering, guidance and approval. She rubbed his arm for reassurance at their engagement and she rubbed and patted his back on the way out of the first photo call for baby Archie,” she continues.

“If she’d adopted a weaker, more vulnerable stance Harry might have struggled but she often appears to offer strength and support to him rather than the other way around.”

Judi says the Duchess’ resilience and her confidence could be vital to help steer the couple through the next year when more change will inevitably be on the cards.

“It could be a crucial factor in whether the couple float over the bumps on the road, ignoring the trolls and the barbed comments from grandad Markle or not,” she adds.

Anna Williamson agrees that the newlyweds, like many others, will no doubt be celebrating surviving a topsy turvy first year.

“There is almost a sigh of relief, a victory air punch when a couple reaches their 1st anniversary,” she explains.

“But as long as the royal couple, like any other couple, place value and importance on their relationship then it stands every chance of going the distance’’