Kate Middleton stresses importance of child-rearing in ‘early years’

Kate Middleton has spoken of her ambition to put the early years on an equal footing with the other great social challenges and opportunities of our time.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, delivered a keynote speech today during an online forum hosted by The Royal Foundation as she unveiled the findings of the biggest ever UK study on the early years.

It is a milestone moment for her work on the importance of early childhood in shaping the rest of our lives and broader societal outcomes. 

Speaking at the event, Kate, wearing a stylish £102 violet wool flannel blazer from Massimo Dutti, said: ‘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.

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The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, delivered a keynote speech today during an online forum hosted by The Royal Foundation

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, delivered a keynote speech today during an online forum hosted by The Royal Foundation

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, delivered a keynote speech today during an online forum hosted by The Royal Foundation

Kate spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

Kate spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

The Duchess spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

The Duchess spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

Kate spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation 

‘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.’

The research, commissioned by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and conducted by Ipsos MORI, reveals what the UK thinks about the early years. 

It includes the findings of the 5 Big Questions survey which attracted over half a million responses earlier this year, making it the biggest ever survey of its kind. 

Kate went on to emphasise the long-term nature of this work, and 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.

Kate, pictured during a video briefing with Kelly Beaver (Managing Director of Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI), unveiled the findings of the biggest ever UK study on the early years earlier today

Kate, pictured during a video briefing with Kelly Beaver (Managing Director of Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI), unveiled the findings of the biggest ever UK study on the early years earlier today

Kate, pictured during a video briefing with Kelly Beaver (Managing Director of Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI), unveiled the findings of the biggest ever UK study on the early years earlier today

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The Duchess of Cambridge made a speech to mark the release of the biggest ever UK study on early years, and she certainly looked like she meant business in her sharp mauve blazer.

We love the unusual colour of this jacket, which is from Kate’s go-to high street store, Massimo Dutti. It features peaked lapels and a single button closure, and it would smarten up any outfit.

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‘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.’

The research published today has generated 5 Big Insights which highlight the need to help people understand the importance of the early years and suggest that parents and carers need more support and advice to ensure good mental health and wellbeing as they raise young children.

The Duchess also spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation. She said: ‘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. While of course I care hugely about their start in life, this ultimately sells the issue short. 

The research published today has generated 5 Big Insights which highlight the need to help people understand the importance of the early years and suggest that parents and carers need more support and advice to ensure good mental health and wellbeing as they raise young children

The research published today has generated 5 Big Insights which highlight the need to help people understand the importance of the early years and suggest that parents and carers need more support and advice to ensure good mental health and wellbeing as they raise young children

The research published today has generated 5 Big Insights which highlight the need to help people understand the importance of the early years and suggest that parents and carers need more support and advice to ensure good mental health and wellbeing as they raise young children

‘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.’ 

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.

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 has 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.

Kate said her preoccupation with early years isn't simply because she has young children of her own

Kate said her preoccupation with early years isn't simply because she has young children of her own

Kate said her preoccupation with early years isn’t simply because she has young children of her own 

The Duchess also spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

The Duchess also spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

The Duchess also spoke about her own interest in the early years and highlighted the important part that all of society has to play in raising the next generation

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 has been 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.

The duchess has made early years development one of the main pillars of her public role since she first became a member of the royal family.

The duchess, pictured in January during a visit to London Early Years Foundation Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-school, in south west London, has made early years development one of the main pillars of her public role since she first became a member of the royal family

The duchess, pictured in January during a visit to London Early Years Foundation Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-school, in south west London, has made early years development one of the main pillars of her public role since she first became a member of the royal family

The duchess, pictured in January during a visit to London Early Years Foundation Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-school, in south west London, has made early years development one of the main pillars of her public role since she first became a member of the royal family

In 2018 she 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. 

This afternoon’s 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. 

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 (Paediatric Doctor, Evelina Children’s Hospital, Guy’s & St.Thomas’) took part in a panel discussion on the findings of the research.

Commenting on Kate’s 5 Big Questions survey findings, Marg Randles OBE, one of the founders of Busy Bees nurseries, said: ‘We applaud Kate Middleton’s research and are thrilled to see the importance of Early Years being recognised. 

‘All too often overlooked, the first five years of a child’s life hugely matter, which is why we believe giving every child the best start in life is the key to a bright future. We hope that the focus given by the Royal Foundation will make a difference in policy and improve the support provided to parents who need it most. 

‘It is time we stopped paying lip service to the importance of Early Years and treat it with the importance it deserves by taking action.

‘Over the past few months, there have been numerous surveys showcasing the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on families’ wellbeing. A recent OFSTED report showed that many children have regressed in lockdown. We are well placed to offer guidance and support our families to navigate their way through these challenging times

‘Happy parents mean happy children, so families need and have our support now more than ever. Whilst we believe in implementing support systems for parents as their nursery provider, there are also things that each one of us can do. We’d like to encourage everyone to reach out to their loved ones and check in – sometimes offering a listening ear and provide reassurance goes a long way.’ 

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