Queen Elizabeth II’s most iconic Christmas speeches laid bare by body language expert

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Queen Elizabeth II, 94, is the longest-reigning monarch in British history and has delivered dozens of Christmas addresses over the decades. The royal Christmas Day address was first televised in 1957 and since then has undergone some big shifts. While continuity remains a key theme, the Queen’s body language has altered dramatically over the decades, an expert has claimed.

Body language expert and author Judi James analysed the most iconic photos of the Queen delivering her Christmas speech over the years and shared her findings.

From the “50s film star glamour” of her first TV Christmas address to establishing the future monarchy in the minds of the British public in recent years, here’s a look at the Queen’s most impactful Christmas day speeches from 1957 to 2019.

1957

Looking at the 1957 photo, Judi told Express.co.uk: “Despite surroundings of regal formality, the Queen is both dressed and posing more like a 50s film star here, wearing a glamorous cocktail-style dress and performing almost effortlessly elegant-looking body language.

“Her torso and her gaze are angled away from the camera but her cheek-rounding smile and the air of excitement in her eye expression suggests a youthful enjoyment of the big day.

“Her posture is perfect, with a straight back and an elongated neck, and the one elbow resting on the arm of the chair signals confidence and control.

“Her crossed legs put a lie to the myth that royal women are obliged to sit with their legs crossed at the ankle only.

“The leg-crossing here looks natural and quite authoritative compared to the more submissive ‘duchess slant’ that is often described as being the only correct option by etiquette journals.

“The Queen appears happy to sit in a way that she clearly feels is more suitable for a young, modern royal. Four successful years on the throne being praised and treated like a beautiful, global A-list celebrity appear to have impacted on the Queen’s confidence in a very positive way here.

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2001

Judi said: “This is probably the most accessible and energetic-looking pose from the Queen, whose body language gives the impression that she is inviting us into her own home during the broadcast.

“HM has decided to stand, and to stand close to the camera and her audience with no barriers, apart from the book she is holding in both hands.

“She seems to want to connect more intimately with her public, looking straight into the camera with her eye forming the crescent shape that defines the warmest of eye-smiles.

“Surrounded by Xmas cards and a tree rather than palace glitz, the Queen appears to want to signal a sense of more personal greeting as she hosts us warmly into her Xmas.

“This is probably the least formal of all the poses and suggests an open and fond relationship between the Queen and her audience.”

2008

Judi said: “As she did back in 1957, the Queen poses beside family photos again this year and with her eyes angled away from the camera this time to make the body language look slightly more distant.

“This is a royal displaying her dynasty, with Charles next to her and his sons next to him.

“The Queen uses a low-slung hand-clasp to look slightly more passive that in 2001.

“This pose is more regal, although the Queen’s smile veers slightly from the more formal and traditional look.

“Her lips are puckered, suggesting some suppression of a laugh, forming what looks like a slightly mischievous-looking smile.”

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2012

Judi said: “We were allowed a glimpse behind the magic of the Xmas day speech here, with the Queen posing almost in the mode of a professional TV presenter, standing with her hands loosely cupped in front of her torso and her feel slightly splayed.

“Staring into the camera and presumably reading the autocue as she does, this is the most technical view of the Queen at Xmas, with just a hint of the lavish setting and huge Xmas tree beside her.

“She looks calm and confident here and the way we are shown two Queens, with the second in the viewfinder suggests growing levels of performer confidence.

2018

Judi said: “The Queen spoke about the happiness of ‘two weddings and two babies and another on the way’ in her family but the utter misery behind the scenes, with rumours of rifts and scandals, does seem to be reflected in her body language here, creating what looked at the time like an incongruent display.

“The Queen is now seated behind a desk and her family photos seem to be oozing nostalgia rather than current happiness, with this joyful pose of herself, Philip and Charles dating back to a much earlier time in her life closest to her seat.

“She does sit full-on to the angled camera and her eyes greet it with a direct gaze but this is not a joyful or even a happy facial expression, with her closed lips suggesting an air of resolution and quiet determination rather than relaxed warmth.

“This was also the year when her more opulent surroundings caused comment.

“The golden piano and the overall gilded glitz was a world away from the more accessible styling of years like 2001.

2019

“There is a strong air of continuity here, with the framed photos now being pushed to the fore, ahead of the Queen, who sits more modestly behind the desk and partially hidden from view.

“The line of succession is emphasised in what looks like a stand against some of the changes in the royal firm, starting from her own father the King and going forward to William and his heir George.

“It looks like an exercise to show front-line resilience from what are now the new royal A-team.

“The Queen’s stability and continuity are visible here, too. She looks virtually no different from years before and her eye-gaze is still very powerful.”

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