LONDON – So much in a shrug, and a side-eyed glance.
Forget NATO. Brits were obsessing Wednesday on a viral snip of video that appeared – appeared, mind you – to show Queen Elizabeth II seeming to chastise her daughter, Princess Anne, at the moment the monarch was greeting President Donald Trump and the first lady at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night.
The queen was hosting Trump and other world leaders, who are in London for a NATO leaders summit, when an exchange between her and her daughter was caught on camera.
The tabloids went a little nuts.
The Mirror headline: “Princess Anne’s incredible reaction after ‘scolding’ from Queen for not greeting Trump.”
While the Sun went with, “HEIR-RAISING: Princess Anne shrugs as The Queen ‘scolds her during Trump greeting.’ ”
The Daily Express saw her majesty and daughter “having a silent argument” and the Mail Online said “Queen ‘directs’ Anne while welcoming Trump to Buckingham Palace.”
But what did the short video clip show?
It was all a bit of a Rorschach test, that allowed viewers to interpret as they like.
Some saw Anne loath to meet Trump – and that view was trending on British Twitter, as posters poured on the love for Anne for dissing the unpopular American president.
Others saw the Notorious Q at work – “side-eyeing” her only daughter Anne to get in line, like a naughty corgi.
In the video, shared widely on social media, the Trumps walk forward to approach the queen, who is standing next to her eldest son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla. Trump exchanges a few words with the queen, who smiles back, and then he shakes Camilla’s hand; Melania then greets Charles and Camilla.
Bit of a snore, so far.
Handbag, check. Hat, check. Gloves, check. Protocol, check.
But then, the queen, 93, turns her head toward Anne, 69, who is nearby but not in the receiving line.
Mum shoots… a look.
Daughter flashes another look back at her mother and shrugs her shoulders.
She appears to say, “What?”
The footage quickly went viral.
David Lammy, a Labour Party politician and outspoken critic of the Trump family, tweeted the video and said, “Princess Anne’s shrug when it appears she is asked by the Queen to greet Donald Trump speaks for the nation.”
Many agreed with Lammy’s take. They thought they saw something political. One poster on Twitter wrote, “Anne is like ‘nahhh thanks!’ ”
Others called Lammy a “wally” (a silly or inept person) and said it showed nothing of the sort.
Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, told the Sun Online he was “fascinated” by the video clip.
He defended Anne and said she would not have been expected to be part of the reception line beside the queen or Charles and Camilla.
Meaning, there was nothing really to see here – nobody was dissing anyone.
The Mail Online found a body-language expert, Judi James, who told the tabloid, “the Queen appeared to ‘wave’ to her daughter, as if signalling she should come over and join the conversation, or continue the procession.
“In response, Princess Anne simply shrugged toward her mother. James speculated she might have been indicating that she could not move on until the Trumps had gone ahead.
“Anne’s open-armed shrug to her mother suggests she’s staying put, but more through helplessness than stubbornness, which could imply the Trumps needed to move along before she could take her place,” the body-language reader told the newspaper.
The royals were out in force on Tuesday night, doing their thing, sprinkling royal star dust on an event in as grand a setting as they come.
However, there was no sign of Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son, who announced he was stepping back from royal duties following his disastrous interview on the BBC about his links to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
Nor were Prince Harry or his wife, Meghan, anywhere about – the couple had earlier announced they were taking a weeks-long break for family time.
But the queen is the star of the show, and nobody works a room like her. The queen has, with very few exceptions, steered clear of politics during her long reign and has won praise from political rivals.
After his state visit in June, Trump called the queen a “great, great woman.” When then-President Barack Obama was in Britain for the queen’s 90th birthday, he described her as “truly, one of my favourite people.”
During a recent televised debate, the leaders of Britain’s two main political parties were asked about the monarchy in the wake of the scandal with Andrew. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, said it needed “a bit of improvement.”
Choosing his words carefully, Johnson said “the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.”
Anne is known as the queen’s most down-to-earth child, she notably didn’t give her children royal titles
Anne is the queen and Prince Philip’s second child and only daughter. She is the first royal to have competed in the Olympics – taking part in equestrian events – and her daughter, Zara Tindall, won a silver medal in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
As fans of “The Crown” television series will know, Anne is known as the queen’s most down-to-earth child – she notably didn’t give her children royal titles. She is often dubbed the “hardest-working royal” by the British press for taking part in more royal “engagements” than any other member of the royal family.
Anne was seen in another video clip from Tuesday that has also gone viral.
In a hot mic moment, a conversation was picked up between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron. The group appeared to be joking about Trump, who turned photo calls into impromptu news conferences earlier that day.
Trudeau can be heard saying, “he was late because he takes a 40-minute news conference off the top,” and later said, “you just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”
Anne then chimes in, but it’s unclear exactly what she said.