Liam Payne, a former member of the mega-popular boy band One Direction, had the honor of performing in front of the royal family for Commonwealth Day on March 12, 2018. On that occasion, he covered John Mayer’s “Waiting On the World to Change,” and the rendition seemed to go off without a hitch. But cameras just happened to catch Prince Harry’s reaction at one point, and that moment would itself quickly go viral.
Commonwealth Day is a pretty big deal for the British royal family. The celebration’s purpose, as stated on the royals’ official website, is “to celebrate the links between Commonwealth communities across the world.” Every year, then, the Queen attends a service at Westminster Abbey in London in commemoration; and she also delivers a message to the Commonwealth countries.
2018’s Commonwealth service was particularly special, however, because it marked the first time that Prince Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle, was seen in public alongside the Queen. People were excited to see what Meghan would wear for the occasion, too, and she didn’t disappoint. She donned an elegant coat and dress designed by Amanda Wakeley, with the ensemble topped by a Stephen Jones beret.
Kate Middleton was also at Westminster Abbey with her husband Prince William. And at the time, Kate was very close to giving birth to Prince Louis, with her bump on show beneath her Beulah London coat and dress. The duchess also wore very similar shoes to the ones that Meghan had chosen – perhaps as a show of unity in keeping with the theme of the day.
And about 2,000 people attended the ceremony in total, with a lot of high-profile leaders among them. British Prime Minister Theresa May was there, as were other prominent British politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon. The audience also included many children and teenagers, as 800 school pupils had been invited.
So Liam Payne could be forgiven for some nerves as he prepared to sing in front of such a distinguished audience. And while Liam wasn’t the only person performing that day – Portsmouth Gospel Choir, Ghanaian outfit One-Drum and spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur also took to the stage – he was by far the the most well-known name on the roster.
Furthermore, the past year had been, it’s fair to say, a bit of a whirlwind for Liam. In May 2017 he unveiled the single “Strip That Down,” which reached number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100. That same year he also had a child, a baby boy named Bear, with his singer girlfriend Cheryl. And in January 2018 he teamed up with Rita Ora for a song for the film Fifty Shades Freed.
For his Commonwealth Day performance, however, Liam sang John Mayer’s Grammy-winning hit “Waiting On the World to Change.” And, beforehand, he told the BBC how excited he was to cover that particular song. “This is the perfect occasion for it,” the former One Direction star said. “The way the world is at the moment, it is super apparent.”
Then, throughout Liam’s performance of the song, Meghan nodded her head along to the music. But her husband-to-be seemed to have much less appreciation for the performance. He barely moved a muscle as Liam sang. And when Liam finished the song and began fist-bumping his fellow performers, Harry turned to Meghan – and the cameras caught the expression on the prince’s face.
Harry had raised his eyebrows to make an unamused, unimpressed face. Was it Liam’s performance he didn’t like or the fist-bumping scene? Or perhaps it was some kind of private joke between him and his fiancée? Whatever it was, it got Meghan bursting into giggles. And though she tried to hide her laughter, the BBC’s cameras still caught the whole scene.
The internet reacted with mirth to the event too. “Harry and Meghan’s reaction to this Liam Payne performance is my favorite thing today,” wrote Anita Singh, an editor for The Daily Telegraph. Others were slightly harsher on Liam himself. “Okay, I was undecided on liking Meghan Markle, but she laughed after Liam Payne performed at the Commonwealth Day ceremony so I officially love her,” another person declared.
But if Liam knew that he was being made fun of – by the internet and also possibly by a prince of the U.K. – he didn’t show it. After the celebration, he posted a video of his performance on his Instagram account. He accompanied the clip with the message, “Such an honor to be asked to perform at the #CommonwealthDay service in front of @theroyalfamily! Hope you enjoyed my cover of @johnmayer ‘Waiting On The World To Change.’”
Still, a few comments beneath Liam’s video did make mention of the Harry incident. “Beautiful song and a lovely version. Harry is love sick; he was giving Meghan the eye, that’s all. Media trying to ruin something beautiful,” wrote one fan. And Liam also received a comment from somebody special: Cheryl dropped by the post to leave an emoji depicting hands raised in celebration.
On Instagram, Liam also posted a picture of himself shaking hands with the Queen. “Today was an absolute pleasure to be a part of,” he wrote, alongside the #commonwealthday hashtag and a crown emoji. But it’s not surprising that people would wonder what his reaction was to Harry’s apparent dismissal. After all, Liam is said to have a bit of a temper.
For example, in 2015, during One Direction’s last tour, fans noticed Liam pushing his bandmate Louis Tomlinson about on stage. But was he play-fighting or actual fighting? Well, Liam reacted to the speculation with a tweet written all in capital letters. “OH MY GOD THAT’S SO OUTRAGEOUS HOW DARE I HAVE A JOKE WITH A FRIEND ON STAGE,” he wrote somewhat sarcastically.
And when Liam performed his song “Bedroom Floor” on The X Factor in 2017, it very much appeared like he stormed off the stage at one point, grabbing Cheryl as he did so. However, the star was quick to deny that he’d behaved in anger, saying instead that he’d just gone the wrong way out of the studio. Even so, the incident certainly got people talking.
No matter what Harry and Meghan actually thought of Liam’s performance, though, at least they appeared to be having fun together. In fact, they often look like they’re having fun together – it’s one of the things that make them so relatable to people the world over. Their engagement photographs, for instance, were markedly different to stuffy royal engagement photos of old, showing them laughing and smiling together.
Then after attending the Commonwealth ceremony, Meghan and Harry went outside to greet guests. The pair were subsequently snapped interacting with the small children who were present, and one of the kids even curtsied to Meghan while giving her some flowers. Meanwhile, other people in the crowd asked Meghan how she was feeling about her upcoming wedding; and she reportedly answered “Very, very excited.”
And royal wedding preparations are picking up ahead of the ceremony in May 2018. The cake has already been chosen; it’ll be an organic lemon and elderflower cake created by Californian chef Claire Ptak. And London gift shops are already packed with merchandise featuring the faces of the bride and groom.
As with most royal weddings, though, while lots of things are being kept under wraps, rumors have leaked out. There have been suggestions as to who may be performing at the ceremony, for one; it’s even said that there’s a chance that iconic ’90s girl group The Spice Girls may be there. But we can also guess at who won’t be getting an invite, since it appears that Harry may well not be a fan of Liam’s music.