Sophie Wessex, 57, received an award from Hillary Clinton today at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The award was due to Her Royal Highness’ devotion to fighting against violence towards women and girls.
The royal gave a speech after accepting her award from the former US Secretary of State, but then suddenly had to rush off the stage to grab a tissue to fix her runny nose.
The Countess said: “Would you just forgive me for a minute, I just need a tissue!” before proceeding to run off the side of the stage.
She could be heard apologising to the runner off the side of the stage before returning to the podium and adding: “Okay, that’s a first for me! But you didn’t want me to carry on sniffing throughout!”
Judi James, a body language expert, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about how well Sophie handled this moment of potential awkwardness on stage.
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She said: “Sophie handled a case of the sniffs with amazing confidence here, managing to turn the problem into an endearing joke while acting in a very natural way.
“She was talking her audience through it while getting stuck straight back into her speech.” According to Judi, Sophie did not “fear” this “potentially embarrassing moment”.
She opined: “Nervous public speakers fear potentially embarrassing moments like this or like drying during a speech or even getting a frog in the throat like Theresa May did during her now-infamous keynote speech to the conference.
“The problem is often that they have adopted a delivery style that is too formal or so far away from their authentic, natural personality that they become anxious about what are quite normal glitches that affect anyone and everyone.”
However, Judi argues that the Countess of Wessex did not do this and rather adopted a “likeable moment” that everyone could relate to.
She explained: “Sophie shows her talent for public speaking by never straying from that natural personality.
“She responded naturally to her sniffy nose, making it a positive, relatable and likeable moment rather than a toe-curling one.
“Instead of battling on trying to pretend nothing is happening she pauses and apologises for the pause while nipping off to get a tissue.
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“She returns dabbing her nose but fully in control of the narrative as she rightly says her audience wouldn’t like her sniffing through the rest of her speech.”
According to the expert, the Countess does not perform “overkill rituals”, implying that she has a natural affinity for public speaking and takes these moments in her stride.
Judi noted: “Sophie raises her elbows and hands in an apology as she darts off but there are no overkill rituals.
“She could have overdone the self-effacing gesticulation with things like eye-rolls or over-apologetic hand gestures.
“Instead, she returns with an index finger raised to announce that, despite the pause, she is still fully in control and able to carry on with her message.”
The expert claimed that Sophie’s performance on the stage at the Georgetown Institute was reminiscent of one by a former British Prime Minister.
Judi stated: “Sophie’s technique is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher, who began to cry during her resignation interview.
“Thatcher paused for one second, pulling a hankie from her side and dabbing the one tear away while breezily announcing that she was ok and fine to carry on with the interview.”