Kate Middleton is set to ‘step up’ her early years campaign with the launch of an ‘ambitious and hugely significant’ new initiative that will equal Prince William‘s £50million Earthshot Prize.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, has championed the cause since she joined the Royal Family and was a driving force behind a landmark study on perceptions of early childhood and its societal impact last year.
This week the mother-of-three will launch a new project through her and Prince William’s Royal Foundation that will further explore the science surrounding early childhood and raise awareness of the issue, with new collaborations with relevant groups, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Lord Hague, chairman of the Royal Foundation, told the publication that Kate believes this is one of the ‘greatest issues of our time’ and is a ‘central plank of her work in the way conservation issues are for the Duke’.
Kate Middleton is set to ‘step up’ her early years campaign with the launch of an ‘ambitious and hugely significant’ new initiative that will equal Prince William’s £50million Earthshot Prize (pictured yesterday talking with children during a visit to Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, West Cornwall, during the G7 summit)
He called it ‘ambitious’ and a ‘hugely significant moment’, adding that the Duchess’ interest in the early years doesn’t just stem from being a mother, but ‘actually comes from all the adults she’s met’, and well as her own happy childhood.
Kate previously spoke about her personal interest in the early years during a landmark speech after her Five Big Questions on the Under Fives survey garnered over 500,000 responses.
‘People often ask why I care so passionately about the early years,’ she said. ‘Many mistakenly believe that my interest stems from having children of my own.
‘While of course I care hugely about their start in life, this ultimately sells the issue short. 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.’
Kate previously spoke about her personal interest in the early years during a landmark speech in November after her Five Big Questions on the Under Fives survey garnered over 500,000 responses
She added that the early years are not simply just about how we raise our children, but about how we raise ‘the next generation of adults’ and the society we will become.
According to royal expert Camilla Tominey, the Daily Telegraph’s royal correspondent, the Duchess knew from the moment that she married Prince William that she wanted to find a philanthropic cause she could champion as impactfully as Princess Diana’s landmine campaign.
Focusing on early years development was born out of her first royal engagements in her role as patron of the charity Action on Addiction, which works with people battling drug and alcohol problems.
In October 2011 the Duchess made a series of under the radar visits to Hope House, a women-only rehabilitation centre in Clapham, south west London.
According to royal expert Camilla Tominey, the Daily Telegraph’s royal correspondent, the Duchess (pictured yesterday) knew from the moment that she married Prince William that she wanted to find a philanthropic cause she could champion as impactfully as Princess Diana’s landmine campaign
Rebecca Priestley, who accompanied Kate and worked as her private secretary for five years, said these trips played a pivotal role in her choosing early years of childhood as one of the main pillars of her public role.
She told The Telegraph that meeting the women at Hope House and finding out that their ‘derailing’ which drove them to turn to drugs and alcohol abuse had happened early on in their lives stuck with the Duchess.
Further visits to Clouds House, a treatment centre in East Knoyle in Wiltshire, and the detox unit of Send Prison in Woking, where she met female inmates, brought about a ‘profoundly powerful’ realisation, according to Priestley.
‘You go in there with this preconceived idea that these women have done things wrong, that it was their fault. Then one woman started speaking to the Duchess about her earliest memories of seeing needles on the floor of her home,’ she recalled.
‘[Kate] had always thought addiction was a misunderstood issue, but after this, she became concerned that there was a pre-destiny about those affected – an inevitability about it. These women were born into it and there was very little chance of escape.’
Emphasising the long-term nature of her work during her keynote speech last year, Kate underlined the importance of early childhood in shaping the rest of our lives and broader societal outcomes, saying: ‘It is a brave thing to believe in an outcome – in a world even – that might not be fully felt for a generation or more.
‘But 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.’
More than half-a-million people took part in the Royal Foundation’s ‘five big questions on the under-fives’ poll which was carried out by Ipsos MORI and produced the largest-ever response from the public to a survey of its kind.
More than half-a-million people took part in the Royal Foundation’s ‘five big questions on the under-fives’ poll which was carried out by Ipsos MORI and produced the largest-ever response from the public to a survey of its kind (pictured: Kate during a video briefing with Kelly Beaver, managing director of Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI)
It found that although 90 per cent see parental mental health and wellbeing as critical to a child’s development, only 10 per cent of parents took time to look after themselves when they prepared for the arrival of their baby.
The study – which produced five key insights – also showed that the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased parental loneliness, with 38 per cent experiencing this before the crisis, and 63 per cent – almost two-thirds – after the first lockdown, a jump of 25 per cent.
While 98 per cent believe that nurture is essential to lifelong outcomes, some 24 per cent think pregnancy to age five is the most pivotal period for health and happiness in adulthood.
The research was hailed a ‘milestone moment’ for Kate, and will be used to shape her future focus on early years development which, sources say, will continue for the rest of her life.
In 2018 Kate created a steering group to investigate the link between childhood experiences and adult behaviour and hopes that the results of their survey and other research will encourage a ‘nationwide conversation’ on the subject, raising awareness of how the first five years of a child’s life will impact the next 50 years.
Eamon McCrory, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at University College London, told The Telegraph there is no question that this is a lifetime of work for Kate, but it is now entering a more ‘proactive’ phase.
A royal insider added that the Duchess ‘genuinely cares’ and wants to do her very best to get it right, both for the Firm and Prince William, but also out of respect for the importance of the work she’s undertaking.