Prince William and Ayo Edebiri Photo Becomes Meme About Royal Discomfort

Let’s begin with the obvious: Nearly any moment taken out of context can tell a story other than the truth. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s also acknowledge that sometimes, taking a moment out of context reveals a deeper truth. On a related note, have you seen the image of Prince William meeting Ayo Edebiri and other British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) “Rising Star” nominees backstage at the 2024 awards on Sunday?

Here in the States, the actress has already won our hearts for her work on the Hulu show The Bear, but she just increased her host of international supporters with this image of perceived but nonetheless all-too-believable discomfort in the presence of the British Royal Family.

This last refers to Edebiri’s unofficial status as an Irish celebrity — a running joke established around the Boston-born actor putting on an Irish accent and claiming to have starred in Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) — which has now, with this latest viral moment, evolved into her role as a stand-in for anyone alienated by the British monarchy.

Or, you know, anyone politely alienated by anything at all.

Of course, Edebiri is not the only supporting actress being a supporting actress in this meme experience; the two other co-nominees and captive audience to the Prince, Phoebe Dynevor and Sophie Wilde, also have expressions that range from glassily confused to frankly appalled.

As X user @CocaineHousecat points out, the Prince was likely intimidated by the presence of so many beautiful actors, and reverted to that surefire way to impress the ladies: shouting “MY WIFE” in a Borat accent.

As fans of Prince William’s media image and the practice of full context are quick to point out, this still moment injects an undue degree of drama into what, by all accounts, was a pleasant meet-and-greet between England’s heir apparent and a handful of rising stars. Live film of the interaction reveals the Prince commenting on the strength of the field in the “Rising Star” category — ultimately won by Mia McKenna-Bruce, who can also be seen in the photo — saying, “It was very close between all of you.”

And as KnowYourMeme is quick to point out, this moment creates a meme format that “notably shares similarities to precursors such as Bro Explaining” — but again, users have acknowledged that the actual video from this moment shows the Prince’s social skills in a more positive light.

For everyone who wishes to contextualize the moment in a more generous way, there are those who feel it is iconic on its own, and wish to elevate it even more, to the status of — dare we say it? — art. Humorist and artist Travis Chapman turned this beautiful painting around with Bob Ross-style alacrity, and we are just thrilled with this “happy little accident.”

As for a more legitimate case of celebrity side-eye, perhaps the real winner of the evening is actor Michael Sheen, spotted in the background of another photo looking none too chuffed about his proximity to the royal.

Are we making too much of a simple exchange? Seems like every new meme wants to steal the show, but what about the classics?

Really, it’s an honor just to be nominated for extraordinary shade.

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