The royal couple’s long-awaited balcony kiss (and encore) left some onlookers disappointed—but their lackluster performance may not be as telling as it seems, says sex researcher Debby Herbenick.
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The long walk down the aisle, William’s whispered words to Kate, the way she coyly glanced at him when the priest said, “You’ve both made your decision.” All of it amounted to drawn-out foreplay, leading up to the moment when the newlyweds would appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for their scripted smooch.
In keeping with royal tradition, there would be no kiss at Westminster Abbey. “We don’t do that in the Church of England,” said the Very Reverend Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster. “That’s sort of a Hollywood thing.”
So when 8:25 a.m. EST finally rolled around and the royal couple leaned close, romantics around the globe held their collective breath. With such sexiness, such great looks, being young and truly in love (not arranged to marry)—this would be great, right? Their kiss would be long, passionate, and make us all swoon.
And then: the dreadful disappointment of it all! The Kiss lasted only two seconds—it was more of a peck, really—with William quickly seeming to pull away and both looking askance. It was awkward, and an enormous letdown for many TV commentators who’d been waiting hours. The crowd wanted more, chanting “Kiss again!”, “Kiss for a while,” and, “We want another”.
Minutes later—after sufficient waving, smiling and pointing up at airplanes—they kissed a second time, with Kate seeming to pull away first this time, and both seeming to blush. (Their reserved performance is perhaps best summed up by this already viral image of Grace Van Cutsem, the hilariously frowning bridesmaid.)
To be sure, the buildup was intense, in part because, unlike Prince Charles and Princess Diana—whose balcony kiss 30 years ago seems in retrospect to have been more for public display than personal joy—Kate and William are a naturally kissing couple. Paparazzi have snapped affectionate cheek kisses at polo matches, a ski vacation kiss, reported nightclub kissing, and a passionate kiss outside a pub. They also lived together as “housemates” in college, so there’s been much assumed kissing.
So just what do the balcony kisses reveal about Kate and Will’s sex life? Are they this boring in bed? Does he always finish that fast? Hardly, I’d guess. My hope, as a sex researcher and educator, is that they simply save the best for themselves when they’re alone. After all, back in 2007, Kate was reportedly spotted purchasing a vibrator at the lingerie and sex shop Ann Summers in London. The newlyweds were on the balcony to do what they were scheduled to do: kiss and wave and smile for the fans. They made no vows to give away any private parts of themselves in front of their nearby parents or the millions of viewers.
And yet, kissing isn’t just kissing. It’s a telling component of a couple’s sex life. Recent research has found that kissing is paramount to men’s sexual satisfaction. Men who report more kissing, cuddling and touching tend to be more sexually satisfied in their marriages, so it would be wise (and fun!) to keep their kissing up at home—more passionate, a bit longer. While tucked away in their new remote home, far from the public eye, my guess and hope is they’ll do an enormous amount of kissing. And they’ll have a steamy, satisfying sex life—on their own terms.
Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., is a research scientist at Indiana University, a sex educator at The Kinsey Institute, and author of Because It Feels Good: A Women’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.