As the nation returns to its offices, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have resumed more of their in-person engagements, albeit it with face coverings and social distancing.
Visits are no longer announced beforehand, to stop crowds gathering, and handshakes and selfies are a thing of the past.
The manner of the visits is not the only change that fans might notice as the couple adapt to the ‘new normal’. After hiring Prince Harry and Meghan’s former social media guru, there’s been another step up in their social media game.
And royal watchers will also notice the couple looking far more tactile on visits.
Prince William and Kate aren’t known for their public displays of affection, but on a visit to South Wales this week, Kate tenderly placed her hand on her husband’s back as they played in the arcade, then put her hand on his shoulder as she joked about being his assistant.
It’s reminiscent of the affectionate touching more often seen on Harry and Meghan’s public appearances.
William and Kate hired David Watkins in April. He used to work for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they were senior royals, looking after their ‘brand strategy’ and ‘content creation’ - including running their hugely successful Instagram page.
Nick Ede, of communications agency East of Eden, told Yahoo UK: “The evolution of the Cambridges on social media has moved up another notch in the past few months. Now that they are allowed to start to visit people they have been capturing these moments on film and using videographers to create good quality stories that engage their existing audience and will increase views and in turn their popularity.
“With this increase in quality they are also playing with their audience – with their Wales visit they are teasing more content – this makes things more interesting, creates demand and all royal watchers will be left satisfied when all footage is released from their visits.
“I think the way they are changing their social media is a clear indication that they can see how they can promote their work in a controlled but candid way. It highlights their work positively and also the media tend to pick up more on their social media than the actual physical visits as there is more content for them to write about and so it’s a win win for all parties.
“This has definitely been a step that has come since they are using the same social media person who was looking after Sussex Royal – social media is a very powerful tool used in the correct way and the Cambridges are making sure people will be coming back for more.”
Thank you Wales 🏴 for the lovely reception yesterday.— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) August 6, 2020
It was great to see communities and businesses starting to get back up and running, following a difficult few months for the tourism industry and the wider economy. pic.twitter.com/P4atjcAqAx
Body language expert Judi James said she has noticed a recent shift in William’s confidence at public events.
“William’s recent appearances to discuss mental health in sport have been a revelation in terms of his talent on screen and this seems to have upped his confidence signals when he’s with Kate and assert himself more rather than sitting back and letting her take on the star role.
“He leaned forward and led the chat with care home residents yesterday as Kate sat back using preening gestures to signal approval.”
James also said the couple seem to have passed the “lockdown test” which many couples have faced, and have come out stronger and tighter as a team and a family.
She added: “This seems to be illustrated by the far more casually tactile behaviours of the couple during their visit yesterday. They looked relaxed and upbeat and it was possible to spot what looked like some of the ‘Harry & Meghan’ influence again as Kate employed some signature Meghan gestures to signal affection, support and even a certain amount of steering of her husband.
“The back touches suggested Kate was keen for William to take the lead more as well as signalling affection and support. There seemed to be more tie-signs than usual from the couple as they caught one another’s eye more than usual and shared the laughter together rather than just projecting exclusively at the people they were visiting.”
The changes have gone down well with social media followers so far, with many celebrating the tactile approach.
One said: “It was great to see these two with some affectionate moments between them. We need that.”
Another added: “It’s nice to see more affection between them over the last few years.”
One described the picture shared on social media as “everything” while several called them a “lovely couple”.