Kate Middleton is outlining ambitious plans that will guide her public work on behalf of children and their parents, teachers, and caregivers.
As she strives to help with the building blocks of “healthier, happier children,” Kate, 38, gave a groundbreaking speech on Friday.
It came as her office at Kensington Palace released the results of her U.K.-wide “5 Big Questions on the Under Fives” survey on the early years of childhood. That age group and their support systems, she says, needs greater aid.
“We must do all we can to tackle these issues and to elevate the importance of the early years, so that together we can build a more nurturing society,” she said at an online forum run by the Royal Foundation she shares with husband Prince William.
“Because I believe, the early years should be on par with the other great social challenges and opportunities of our time. And next year, we will announce ambitious plans to support this objective,” continued Kate.
Thanking those professionals and experts that helped her along the way, she said, “What you do isn’t for the quick win — it is for the big win. It is for a happier, healthier society as well as happier, healthier children. Only by working together can we bring about lasting change for the generations to come. Because I truly believe, big change starts small.”
“Over the last decade I, like many of you, have met people from all walks of life. I have seen that experiences such as homelessness, addiction, and poor mental health are often grounded in a difficult childhood. But I have also seen how positive protective factors in the early years can play a critical role in shaping our futures too. And I care hugely about this.”
The Duchess of Cambridge — who has made the early childhood years a central area of her work throughout her royal life — explained that becoming a mother wasn’t what piqued her interest (in fact, it predates the birth of her oldest child, Prince George, 7.)
“People often ask why I care so passionately about the early years. Many mistakenly believe that my interest stems from having children of my own,” Kate explained. “While of course, I care hugely about their start in life, this ultimately sells the issue short.”
Continued the mom of three, “Parenthood isn’t a prerequisite for understanding the importance of the early years. If we only expect people to take an interest in the early years when they have children, we are not only too late for them, we are underestimating the huge role others can play in shaping our most formative years too.”
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The survey had more than 500,000 participants, making it the largest ever U.K. study on early childhood. Friday’s virtual speech and the report are what a royal source calls a “serious milestone” in Princess Kate’s work.
During the speech, she also spoke about some of the key points in the report: “Firstly, if parents are struggling to prioritize their own wellbeing how can we better support them? Secondly, what is at the root of why parents feel so judged?”
“Thirdly, how can we address parental loneliness, which has dramatically increased during the pandemic, particularly in the most deprived areas?” Kate asked.
She added, “And finally if less than a quarter of us understand the unique importance of a child’s first five years, what can we do to make this better known? “
As her speech approached, Kate’s office posted a series of videos on the palace’s social media channels highlighting some of the key findings and insights from the report.
Insight 2: 90% of people see parental mental health and wellbeing as being critical to a child’s development.
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) November 27, 2020
The online forum was hosted by Dr. Xand Van Tulleken (associate professor of public health at University College London) and featured a presentation from Ipsos MORI’s Managing Director of Public Affairs Kelly Beaver.
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Dr. Trudi Seneviratne (registrar, Royal College of Psychiatrists, adult & perinatal psychiatrist & clinical director), Jon Rouse (city director, Stoke-on-Trent City Council) and Dr Guddi Singh (pediatric doctor, Evelina Children’s Hospital, Guy’s & St.Thomas’) also took part in a panel discussion on the findings of the research.
Thanking those who support families and children for their “hard work, commitment and vision” — especially during the pandemic which “has been a worrying time for us all” – Kate said it was “brave to believe in an outcome – in a world even – that might not be fully felt for a generation or more.”