Those who love all things royal know that royal couples very rarely have public display of affection moments. Whether they’re the members of the beloved United Kingdom’s royal family or royal monarchy from other countries around the world, it seems like the typical behavior between royal couples young and old is chivalrous, professional, and sometimes, a bit distant.
So when royal couples do kiss or do show just a smidge of public affection toward each other, people (and the internet) go a little nuts — sometimes not for the right reason. While some royal couples (we’re thinking Harry and Meghan) have great chemistry and haven’t shied away from holding hands, others are rigid and awkward. Some couples seem to have only kissed publicly at their wedding, and others seem to avoid showing any kind of love for each other altogether.
We went through the royal couples of the world, tracked their interactions closely, and found some of the most uncomfortable kisses between royal couples. Some are sweet and the result of a stumble, while others are indicative of tension and discomfort. So, here are the most awkward royal kisses that were caught on camera.
The royal wedding kiss that was as tense as it was awkward: Prince Charles and Diana Spencer
The royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer looked like a fairy tale. As noted by Reader’s Digest, almost one billion people across 74 countries tuned in to watch the couple get married, not to mention the 2,650 guests present at the ceremony in St. Paul’s Cathedral. After forgetting to kiss Spencer at the end of the ceremony — being just one of Prince Charles’ awkward moments — the couple kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterward. But according to body language expert Patti Wood, things were not nearly as romantic as they seemed during the couple’s famed kiss.
"See how she’s doing all the work?" Wood told Reader’s Digest. "She’s clearly passionate about her new husband, but he does not share her ardor. It’s as if she’s literally ‘bending over backward’ to hold his attention, while he responds with a nearly chaste peck on the lips, his eyes closed, his passion either in-check or non-existent."
Prince Charles had to awkwardly navigate around an umbrella to kiss Camilla Parker Bowles
Blame this awkward kiss on bad timing and an ill-shaped umbrella. While visiting Northern Ireland, Prince Charles was joined by his second wife (and longtime partner) Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall. Like many days in the United Kingdom, it was sprinkling rain, and as such, Parker Bowles shielded herself with a bubble-shaped umbrella that left very little room for anyone other than herself underneath it.
As noted by Express, Charles went to greet his wife — who had joined him after his royal tour had begun — and had to duck out of the umbrella’s eye-poking range to peck Parker Bowles on the lips. The couple were together in Omagh, Northern Ireland, to pay tribute to the 1998 Omagh bombing — a rather somber occasion, we would think. But in the awkward and slightly sticky situation, Charles was "forced to awkwardly duck under the umbrella" to kiss Parker Bowles. Let this serve as a reminder to get a wider, two-person umbrella so this doesn’t become a routine fumble.
This body language expert broke down the slight tension between William and Kate at this event
Of the younger royal couples, Prince William and Kate Middleton hardly give away any moments of PDA to the public. We dare you to try to find more than five times that they’ve kissed in public, and they’ve been married since 2011. But on the rare occasions that they have shown affection to each other, things have been a little awkward. Body language expert Blanca Cobb broke down the couple’s dynamic for Cosmopolitan and pointed to this specific event as an example of awkward tension between them.
After William won a polo match in 2011, Middleton kissed him on the cheeks, but didn’t actually make her lips touch his face (let alone his lips). "You can’t say she doesn’t feel emotion for her husband," Cobb told Cosmopolitan. "There’s still no tension here. Kate is reaching out to him, has a relaxed bend in her arm, with her fingers relaxed on shoulder." But it wasn’t the same story for William. "He’s body blocking by holding the gift between them," Cobb said. Did someone say awkward?
This seemingly sweet moment between Prince Harry and Meghan is actually so awkward
We got the memo that out of all the events you might spot a royal kiss, it will most likely be a polo match. But that won’t stop an awkward interaction or a fumble here and there, and that was the case for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. As noted by Cosmopolitan, Harry and Markle were at a polo match, and like Prince William and Kate Middleton’s polo interactions, Markle was congratulating her man with a kiss. But when she reached in to peck her husband on the lips, Markle’s hand got stuck on Harry’s left hip as she was reaching around to put her hand on his waist.
"It’s like she wasn’t sure what to do," said Blanca Cobb, a body language expert. "There wasn’t enough distance for her to put her arm behind Harry, so her wrist was twisted in a weird way." The fumble definitely was not planned, and Markle tried to play it off by rubbing Harry on the back. But Cobb said that the moment was already awkward. "It’s like she’s silently saying, ‘Oh my gosh, get me through this.’"
Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco did not look comfortable with each other on their wedding day
This awkward kiss is one for the books. Prince Albert of Monaco got married to Princess Charlene in 2011, and like many royal weddings, the couple pulled out all the stops. As noted by the Daily Mail, the event was attended by politicians and celebrities. But what got a lot of people talking was the incredibly awkward kiss shared between them. To make matters worse, rumors of Charlene potentially bolting from the scene were swirling.
Apparently, Charlene found out just before marrying Albert that he had an illegitimate son with a woman named Nicole Coste — a former airline hostess that lived in Paris. The future bride was so thrown by the news that she was spotted in the airport in Nice with a one-way ticket to South Africa after she had learned about her future husband’s "distressing" past.
A Monaco detective told the Daily Mail that, "Charlene had her passport confiscated so that the Prince’s entourage could persuade her to stay," and as you can imagine, the rumors began to fly. No wonder their kiss at the wedding was ridiculously tense.
Diana Spencer awkwardly avoided kissing Prince Charles at this event
By the time the 1990s rolled around, the marriage between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer was on thin ice. During their royal tour of India in 1992, the couple sparked rumors of tension and distance when Spencer visited the Taj Mahal on her own — making for a very awkward and sad photo op. To make matters worse, Spencer was summoned (despite her objections) to present the prizes at a polo match that Charles was participating in in Jaipur just a few days after the humiliating visit to the Taj.
As noted by Women’s Day, Spencer presented the prizes, but unlike many other polo matches, Charles failed to kiss his wife "as would traditionally be expected on such occasions." It also didn’t help the awkwardness of the situation that it was the day before Valentine’s Day.
Dickie Arbiter, Charles and Diana’s former press officer, wrote in his book that Charles realized his mistake, but the crowd had already picked up on the snubbed kiss, even as he pecked Spencer on the cheek. "The crowd, as well as those of us accompanying the royal couple, could only cringe," Arbiter wrote. Yikes.
This very awkward embrace between Prince Philip and Prince William is almost too cringey
We’ll admit that greeting your grandparents — especially when there’s cameras and press everywhere and they happen to be the Queen and Prince of the United Kingdom — can’t be easy. But this kiss on the cheek that Prince William gave to his grandfather, Prince Philip, was so awkward that we almost can’t look at the photo that was captured of the moment.
As noted by The Sun, Queen Elizabeth and Philip were visiting William at the East Anglian Air base at Cambridge Airport, as the Queen was there to officially open the Egerton Smith Center. The heir to the British throne toured his grandparents around the base and its facilities and even showed them one of its helicopters. But it was the peck on the cheek and the awkward greeting between William and Philip that had people talking.
"Prince Philip looked stunned when he was planted a kiss from his pilot grandson on the runway during a trip to see his workplace," The Sun reported. "It was a typically awkward British embrace between the 95-year-old Royal and his pilot grandson."
We love Prince Harry, but this kiss encounter is literally so painful to watch
Prince Harry has shown us time and time again that he is such a great royal with an enduring energy, but even he can stumble from time to time. As noted by Marie Claire, he joined Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, to Markle’s first official project launch as the Duchess of Sussex. The event, hosted at Kensington Palace, launched Markle’s community kitchen project, but it was the interaction between Harry and Hubb Community Kitchen coordinator Zahira Ghaswala that had people talking.
Ghaswala, a Muslim woman, was greeted by a double-kiss on the cheeks by Ragland, and naturally, Harry followed suit. But as he leaned in to greet Ghaswala, he awkwardly remembered that it was not within proper Islam etiquette to great her as such. Harry tried to give "air kisses" and fumbled in the moment, but his efforts to save himself and Ghaswala from any possible embarrassment was very sweet.
As Marie Claire put it, "the Duke simply laughed the whole thing off, fixed it with an air kiss, and continued to enjoy the introduction." If we couldn’t love Harry any more.
Even the most senior British royals have had awkward exchanges
One royal couple that almost never shows public affection toward is Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. There’s hardly any physical signs of their relationship — seeing a kiss between them is like seeing an eclipse. But on the rare occasions that Philip has kissed his wife on the cheek, the interactions between them have been awkward and rigid.
As noted by the International Business Times, Philip kissed Elizabeth on the cheek in 2000 while at Heathrow Airport — but because he is so much taller than his wife, Philip had to literally bend his neck sideways to try to give her a kiss. In all her regal-ness, the Queen looked like she sort of let Philip suffer in order to get the kiss over with. As the year began, there was a semi-awkward kiss between the couple as Philip lightly kissed the Queen’s cheek on New Year’s Eve, as noted by Hello Magazine.
"The Queen and Prince Philip are not very affectionate towards each other in public since they need to maintain a respectable body language," the International Business Times reported. So don’t expect a natural kiss from these two.
The first kiss shared between newlyweds William and Kate was awkward but enduring
We can’t imagine just how nerve-wracking a wedding is, let alone one that is being watched by millions of people. But that was the case for Prince William and Kate Middleton, who got married in 2011 and followed the same pattern as Prince Charles and Diana Spencer — a public kiss while standing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. But body language expert Blanca Cobb told Cosmopolitan that of all the interactions we’ve seen between William and Middleton, their wedding day kiss was the "least intimate" of them all.
"It was their wedding day! They should have been touching and embracing heart-to-heart," Cobb said. She pointed out that the couple was standing apart from each other, not holding hands, and that they opened their eyes at different times — then, Middleton pulled away.
"It signals a disconnect, since people who are really into each other automatically close their eyes to feel the moment, the breath of the other person, and the sensation of lips touching," Cobb said. "It looks like they’re going through the motions." Maybe, (hopefully), it was just nerves that resulted in this awkward kiss.
According to this body language expert, Prince Charles’ habit of kissing women on the hand is awkward and outdated
When a man kisses a woman on the top of her hand, it seems like the reaction is a smile or a shrug. Prince Charles has made a habit of kissing his mother’s hand, in a very distinct way, that could be seen as awkward and out of touch. Body language expert Judi James told Express that she thinks the way Charles kisses the Queen’s hand all stems from how distant their relationship has been.
"The sight of Prince Charles as a very small boy standing with his hand out to shake his mother’s hand formally after she returned from a long tour once sparked rumors that the Queen had a distant and remote relationship with her oldest son," she said. "Since then though Charles appears to have gone to great pains to display affection bordering on adoration for the woman he calls ‘Mummy’, performing the hand-kiss to suggest a sense of almost Medieval chivalry and dedication to her service."
This royal cousin had a couple of awkward greetings with her family members, in part because of this obstacle
If you take anything from this article, let it be this: Do not wear such a big hat to an event that people can’t greet you. While attending the first day of the Royal Ascot in 2014, royal cousin Zara Phillips wore such a large fascinator that members of the royal family had to bend, crouch, and awkwardly maneuver around it to kiss her on the cheek.
As noted by E! News, royals including Prince Harry, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had to hold onto their hats (enjoy the pun) to say hello to each other. Many of the greetings consisted of awkward cheek kisses and "one-armed side hugs," "because sometimes fashion has nothing to do with function, people!"
So what did the royal family members do to avoid such awkward hellos? Prince Harry took his own hat off to make the encounter a little easier, the Duchess of Cornwall practically had her head bent to one side, and Charles kept his distance as much as possible. Word to the wise: Family doesn’t let family wear ridiculous hats.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter broke strict royal protocol when he planted a kiss on this royal figure
This might be the most scandalous, awkward kiss of the list. In 1977, United States President Jimmy Carter visited the United Kingdom for an economic summit, and while he was in the country, Queen Elizabeth invited him to Buckingham Palace. As noted by Express, Carter made a very impactful first impression. While greeting the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth’s mother and wife of King George VI), Carter ignored all royal protocols and planted a kiss on her lips.
As Express reported, "his southern hospitality did not sit well with Elizabeth." So, what exactly was so awkward and uncomfortable about the kiss? Well, for starters, the royals are very strict when it comes to rules. Secondly, and far more personal to the Queen Mother, no one had kissed her since her husband had died in 1952 — so it must have come as a complete shock. Apparently, she took "an instant dislike" to Carter and even wrote about the interaction.
"I took a sharp step backwards," the Queen Mother wrote, but "not quite far enough."
This rare moment of PDA was awkwardly brushed off by Kate Middleton
Okay, so this instance of public affection isn’t exactly a kiss, but it is just about the most awkward example of royal couple interactions we could find. Prince William and Kate Middleton are fan favorites, there’s no denying it, but their relationship came into the spotlight when they made a guest appearance on the BBC special entitled A Berry Royal Christmas. Hosted by British Bake Off’s Mary Berry, the royal couple joined her on screen and gave viewers more information about the charities they support (via Fox News).
Toward the end of the program, the couple chatted with volunteers, and in a very rare show of affection, William put his hand on Middleton’s shoulder. Without hesitation, she immediately used her shoulder to shoo his hand from her, all while smiling in the direction of the volunteers. As you can imagine, social media went nuts, and the clip quickly made its way to Twitter. "Awkward! Too awkward!!" a viewer tweeted. "They should have cut it out!" We completely agree.