Prince Charles Speech Analysis
Let’s not understate it, the death of the Queen is a huge event in all our lives. Very few of us actually experienced anyone else on the throne, so when Charles made his first address to the nation, I was glued.
That glue came unstuck at about 40 seconds in and, on asking many others, it was the same for them. Of the nine minutes on air, not one person I spoke to watched it to the end. So what is he doing? How could it be so disengaging?
(Note of warning: I am going to be cruel to someone who just lost their mother, but I take into account that this would be a well-prepared speech by experts who possibly began preparing for just such an event decades ago.) Before we begin, let’s not forget the incident where Charles was angry about the ink on the desk. A little scenario that has gone viral. It was not his best look and I can. Not imagine the Queen ever doing it, but the stress of this situation and the momentary look of disgust was also understandable.
On the speech itself, we barely need to look past the first sentences to get the gist of where
King Charles thinking is headed. He begins:
“I speak to you today with feelings of profound sorrow.”
Personally, I wonder if the word “I” was a great choice as the very first word. It is ostracizing.
Could it have been,
Could it have been,
Note how the eyes drop after and even during each sentence. Dropping the eyes can be assign of reading, but clearly it isn’t. Firstly because it is not for long enough for anyone to read anything and secondly because he then goes on to read from a teleprompt besied the camera for the rest of the speech.
Eye contact moving in this way is a disconnection from the audience and a return to inner reflection as though we are not worthy of his full attention. It almost feels like it is a distaste to address us – which I sure was never the full intention, but, remember, I am seeking reasons for why no one could actually listen throughout.
Thirdly, the vocal phrasing. This is a rhythm of speech that is manufactured and regulated. No actor would ever take this choice of regular patterning as they would recognise this as ‘read’ as opposed to heartfelt. It is old-fashioned and reminiscent of an elocution competition of the 1920’s. It is what happens when one focuses on pitch, pace and volume for their delivery. Pitch, pace and volume is how we the audience perceive a presentation, but never a guiding methodology for the speaker. Considering breath and airflow are a far more effective way of working.
Funnily enough, the intonation actually changes when he begins to speak about himself. Suddenly the length of pauses becomes irregular and more natural and when he states “My life will, of course, change” he takes giant gulp and begins to move his body more freely.
In summary, the language is disengaging in its repetitive reference to himself, a mother who belonged to him and his family and then separate references to ‘you’, the listener, as a secondary interest.
With such a critical person to so many I. think the use of the word “us” may have been welcomed more wholeheartedly, with a less manufactured tone.
If you are one who never got past the 40 second mark, my advice is, don’t bother. It didn’t get any better.
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Dr Louise Mahler is a body language expert. With a focus on study of the mind-body relationship and business applications; providing practical inspiring improvement to global leaders.