Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have had the jitters when they made their first public engagement together since welcoming daughter Lilibet in June. Body language expert Judi James noted they were awkward and anxious.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex marked the first day of their "US tour" with a visit to the One World Observatory in New York on Thursday. Photos and videos from the engagement showed the couple holding hands while walking and waving to photographers. But there were times that they avoided eye contact and looked down.

James said the couple appeared rather "shy" but this is understandable since they have been away from the spotlight for three months. She said that their body language, the Duke of Sussex in particular, suggests they are "feeling awkward and possibly shy after some time out of the spotlight as a power couple."

"Their movements are less synchronised than expected and their shared cues or tie-signs include what look like some miss-hits," she told The Sun and pointed out that their "smiles look especially awkward, although they might have been trying to keep the tone right for the occasion."

She added that their handclasp also showed signs of "anxiety" because it looked "unusual." She explained, "In an initial photo it is Harry's hand on top but their fingers are held straight down together, with what looks like just Meghan's index finger and thumb curled around Harry's thumb."

"There are no cuddling rituals from them here and little if any eye contact during this photo-call. Harry sucks his lips in, suggesting he is bracing himself, before performing a smile that shows no teeth and which just stretches his pressed-together lips," James continued and said that even the duchess' smile looked "unusually rigid" even though she showed her upper teeth.

Royal followers seemed to notice a sombre mood too, as one tweeted, "She looks like she's going to cry and Harry looks uncomfortable the others seem quite happy." Another chimed in and thought the duchess looked "terrified."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry also visited the 9/11 memorial on Thursday, which would explain their dark clothing. On Saturday, they will join the VAX Live concert at Central Park as part of their continued efforts to raise funds for the global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Photo: AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS