The Princess of Wales revealed how she told Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of her ‘excitement and nervousness’ ahead of a new early years campaign she is launching as she met her team of advisers on the subject for the first time.
Kate Middleton, 41, spoke to the eight professionals, appointed to offer her strategic advice and provide oversight of the work of her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, in Berkshire this morning.
The group will support the princess and the centre as her work to promote the fundamental importance of the first five years of a child’s life continues.
Kate, shaking hands with the specialists, said: ‘I feel a bit nervous about it! But excited too. I was talking to the children this morning – the excitement and nervousness gets mixed up together in the same pot.’
The Princess of Wales looked smart in an Alexander McQueen blazer as she met with experts specialising in early childhood development at Windsor Castle today
The mother of three, who has made early years work a cornerstone of her royal duties, wore a black blazer from the British label, with a white Holland Cooper blouse.
The princess swept her hair into a bouncy blow dry for the outing and chose a subtle smokey eye and a sweep of blush.
Tucking her hair behind her ear, Kate revealed a pair of pearl drop earrings which added a touch of glamour to her outfit.
She has worn Alexander McQueen – one of her favourite fashion brands – on numerous occasions, most notably choosing its creative director Sarah Burton to design her wedding dress.
A favourite of the royal, Kate has worn Alexander McQueen on numerous occasions, most notably choosing the design house’s creative director Sarah Burton to fashion her iconic wedding dress
Her blazer, crafted from structured crepe, creates a fitted and flattering silhouette thanks to its angular pockets and sharp padded shoulders.
The princess paired the blazer with a white bodysuit from designer label Holland Cooper, which she has previously also worn on a number of occasions.
Kate’s meeting reflects several years of work in early years, maternal and teenage mental health as she continues her crusade to improve the nation’s wellbeing.
The princess told them a key area that might be looked into is how to ‘develop the social and emotional skills which are vital for later life’.
The Princess appeared in good spirits as she met with the experts today, opting for a sweep of eyeshadow and a touch of pink lip gloss
The mother-of-three donned a smart black blazer from the British label for the occasion, which she paired with a white blouse from Holland Cooper
Full details about the new campaign were not given but Kate told the group: ‘I am really excited for next week, there is lots coming out.’
She added: ‘Today I just want to think about and discuss what next, really. How do we keep this conversation going?
‘This campaign’s really to try and raise the awareness of the importance of this issue. And it’s sort of what can we do collectively to keep the conversation going and what we do next.
‘This campaign is really laying the foundation of why early childhood matters.’
Kate said it is about what helps shapes us, what shapes our relationships, and the emotional experience of childhood and about creating the ‘building blocks and the scaffolding’ for how we first start to understand ourselves and others.
The Princess, who has met a number of the experts in the past, said she was ‘grateful’ for their advice and support
Kate’s meeting today reflects several years of work in early years, maternal and teenage mental health as she continues her crusade to improve the wellbeing of the nation
Kate launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in 2021, established to increase focus on the first years of a child’s life in impacting later life
‘These are really complicated, big issues to look at,’ she said. ‘But I think, from the centre’s point of view, one of the main key areas is how do we develop the social and emotional skills which are vital for later life.
‘How do we better manage and regulate our emotions? How do we build better relationships?’
She said they are dealing with ‘big questions, big topics’ which are ‘complicated’.
The centre stems from research which shows that the first five years of childhood fundamentally shape adulthood, with social challenges such as addiction, violence, family breakdown, homelessness and mental health having their roots in the earliest years of life.
Advisory panel member Dr Trudi Seneviratne, a registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, believes that ‘our experience in the earliest years lays the foundations for the rest of our lives’.
The mother-of-three has made Early Years work a cornerstone of her royal work and appeared animated as she chatted with the experts today
The Princess was beaming as she spoke with the eight experts, who will be offering advice to her foundation, during the meeting today
She ted that policymaking can be ‘quite fragmented’, adding: ‘Having policy that brings together the importance of the early years and helping people to collaborate on their thinking is really quite crucial.
‘That will help with service development. It will help with research. It will help with education. It will help with the workforce who look after young children and everyone, really.’
Dr Seneviratne went on: ‘We need all of government to buy into this as a really ambitious long-term programme that actually continues regardless of changes of government – that’s really, really important.
The experts who will be advising the Princess!
Advisory Group members are:
• Professor Peter Fonagy OBE, Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL and Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
• Eamon McCrory, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology, University College London
• Dr Alain Gregoire, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist and President and Founder of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance
• Dr Trudi Seneviratne, Registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists
• Ed Vainker OBE, co-founder of Reach Academy Feltham,
• Carey Oppenheim, Project Lead at the Nuffield Foundation
• Imran Hussain, Director of Policy and Campaigns for Action for Children
• Beverley Barnett-Jones MBE, Associate Director at Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and Trustee at What Works in Children’s Social Care
‘We can’t have constant change so policy needs to be embedded in education, in healthcare, in maternity care, post-natal care, in all of health and social care that supports families and it needs to continue. It needs to grow and expand – that’s absolutely critical.
‘I think we run into lots of problems with projects opening and closing – that’s just not good enough for the child or indeed that family.’
Consultant perinatal psychiatrist Dr Alain Gregoire, who is the president and founder of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said early years research has developed to the point where experts know there are things that can be done to change lives for the better.
He said: ‘It’s something that can touch the whole of society and every single one of us.
‘A critically important message with the early years is that it’s never too early – so, we’re talking about from the beginning of pregnancy, from conception onwards.
‘We can change the life courses, the health, the happiness of individuals.
‘But it’s also never too late, so, by understanding the early years, we can actually understand ourselves, the people around us, and our communities better.
‘And we can do things that can help to improve the quality of life for ourselves just through that understanding.’
Professor Peter Fonagy, the head of University College London’s psychology and language sciences division, agreed to be on the advisory panel because he believes the centre ‘is going to be the most influential and effective organisation to represent the interests of parents and infants for some time to come’.
Being part of it could ‘in a small way benefit the welfare of generations, and generations of this country and beyond’, he added.
Eamon McCrory, professor of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology at University College London, is interested to see how research, particularly in neuroscience, might prompt societal change and improve a child’s future physical, social and mental health.
He thinks the centre has ‘extraordinary potential to transform our understanding and approach to the first five years of life’.
Carey Oppenheim, of the Nuffield Foundation, said ‘getting the fundamentals right in early childhood is part of creating a more resilient, productive and just society for us all’ and ‘the formative early years of a child’s life provide the crucial building blocks for their long-term development and wellbeing’.
The Princess swept her hair into a bouncy blow dry for the occasion, tucking it behind one ear to reveal a pair of pearl drop earrings
The mother-of-three, who has made Early Years work a cornerstone of her royal work, donned a smart black blazer from the British label for the occasion, which she paired with a white blouse from Holland Cooper
Kate met a group of eight professionals, who have been appointed to offer her strategic advice and provide oversight of the work of her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood
Beverley Barnett-Jones, an associate director at the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, comes to the panel with more than 30 years’ experience in frontline children’s social care.
Ms Barnett-Jones, whose work has included being a children’s guardian with the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, said: ‘Children who experience abuse and neglect often become involved with a social worker – these are some of the most vulnerable children in our society.
‘Yet, with the right help at the right time, many of the problems that develop in later life could be ameliorated, even prevented, by earlier intervention in their lives.
‘Working with and supporting the Royal Foundation will better aid a non-stigmatised understanding of these children’s life journeys, along with their families, as it provides a societal focus on what the village could look like that raises all of our children well.’
Ed Vainker, co-founder of Reach Academy Feltham, a high-achieving free school in a deprived area of west London which he started from scratch, and Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns for Action for Children, are also on the panel.
Kate launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in 2021 to increase focus on the development in the first years of a child’s life, in order to have an impact on their later years.
In 2018, Professor Fonagy opened up to People magazine about the inspiration behind Kate’s favoured projects.
‘Part of her interest in prevention is to make sure that she does things right in her own parenting,’ he said.
He added that the princess feels it’s ‘an incredible privilege to be a mum’.
‘She’s genuinely interested in how to make children’s lives better, and what parents and professionals can do to positively influence the lives of children,’ he said.
She has also met a number of the experts on previous occasions, including Dr Alain Gregoire and Eamon McCrory.
The group will support the delivery of the centre’s work in commissioning research, learning from best practice in the UK and globally, and raising awareness of the extraordinary impact the first five years of life have on future outcomes.
The advisory group members have been chosen for their deep expertise in a range of areas including neuroscience, psychology, perinatal psychiatry, early years services and policy development.
Amanda Berry, chief executive of The Royal Foundation said: ‘Working with such an eminent group of people is an absolute privilege.
‘I know their advice and experience is hugely valued by The Princess, and the whole Centre for Early Childhood team, as we continue to drive awareness of, and action on, the transformative impact of the early years.
‘The Advisory Group’s support in our key areas of research, collaboration and awareness raising will be invaluable and I look forward to working closely with them to make a difference for generations to come.’
Several have already played a pivotal role in the work the Princess of Wales has been pursuing for more than a decade in this field, helping to shape her work and adding to her determination to help change the way people think about early childhood.
The appointment of the advisers comes as the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood appointed Christian Guy as director.
Kate’s appearance comes after a royal expert said she is ‘rising above the drama’ following her brother-in-law’s explosive memoir.
She was praised for ‘putting duty before herself’ by Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl.
‘She’s doing a job that not only puts a smile on her face, but brings smiles to the faces of others,’ Ms Nicholl told OK! Magazine. ‘She doesn’t do drama and she never has.’
The writer of The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy And The Future Of The Crown told the magazine King Charles will be channeling the same ‘back to business’ attitude his family is known for.
‘She’s leading by example and putting duty before herself,’ Katie added.