Saturday, 28 November 2020

The Duchess Shares Her Thoughts on Early Years & Plans for the Future in Q&A

In a wonderfully enjoyable and fun Q&A, the Duchess of Cambridge answered questions from members of the public about her early years work, 5 Big Questions and plans for the future. I thought it an excellent means of hearing Kate speak more candidly in an informal setting and she seemed very much at ease and excited to discuss the project. Kate began by saying "a huge thank you" to everyone who participated, noting there was a "huge number" of questions submitted with "wonderful emojis attached".

The Duchess was asked, "What is the early years? Help." Kate replied, "I suppose we're looking at it from pregnancy, through to the age of five, so through to children starting school." When asked what sparked her interest in early years, she reiterated a point made during her keynote speech from the Royal Foundation's online forum. "I actually get asked this question a lot. I think people assume because I am a parent, that's why I've taken an interest in the Early Years. I think this really is bigger than that. This isn't about – just about – happy, healthy children; this is about the society I hope we could and can become."

Kate added, "Right from the early days, meeting lots of people who are suffering with addiction or poor mental health, and hearing time and time again that their troubles now in adulthood stem right back from early childhood experience."

There was a light-hearted moment when Kate was asked about managing tantrums especially with multiple children. She laughed and said, "That's a hard one. I'd like to the ask the experts myself," before asking Alice Haynes, deputy head of early years at the Anna Freud Centre. Alice recommended trying "to put into words" how a child might be feeling and deal with the situation as calmly as possible.

Hello! reports:

'The royal even opened up about her own childhood after being asked: "What did you like most in your childhood?"

"That's a very good question," started Kate. "I loved spending time outside and that has stuck with me for my whole life."

The Duchess touched on plans for the future, revealing there's plenty in store for 2021 with new projects in the pipeline over the coming years. Kate touched on hopes to bring the project to a global stage, adding "there's amazing work going on internationally, because ultimately, this is a global issue. It would be great to see best practice being shared so, yes, I hope so in the future".

Kensington Palace also shared a brief video with an additional insight from the survey. During the COVID-19 pandemic, support from local communities has substantially increased for many -- but not for all. The full report expanded on this noting those living in the most deprived areas felt tailored support was less accessible.

The Duchess wore the Gucci blouse she debuted in January 2019 for a visit to Henry Fawcett Children’s Centre to learn more about the work being done by local organisations in Lambeth to support young children and their families. On the day, Kate teamed it with Jigsaw trousers, her Aspinal of London Midi Mayfair bag and Gianvito Rossi Piper pumps.

Gucci's 'violet orchid' Pussy Bow Silk Crepe Blouse is designed in a beautiful purple hue that is so fresh for the season - especially if you tend to wear darker colors. Cut from fluid silk-crepe, this style has a loose silhouette and features fabric-covered buttons that run down the back.

A reminder, luxury accessories brand Black.co.uk are offering readers a 30% discount on all orders (20% is applied automatically and an additional 10% will be deducted with the code HRH10). Below, the brand's very popular Black Watch Tartan Cape, Long Black Satin Gloves and Short Ivory GlovesClick here to view the original post with Kate-related Black Friday weekend offers.

I'm looking forward to starting a new series of Kate Loves posts next week :)

Friday, 27 November 2020

Big Change Starts Small: The Duchess Reveals Survey Findings & Speech on Importance of Early Years Focus

We've seen an array of videos, updates and a passionate speech by the Duchess of Cambridge as she unveiled the findings of her landmark early years survey, 5 Big Questions. During an online forum hosted by the Royal Foundation and Ipsos MORI, the marketing company who conducted the study, the Duchess revealed, "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. 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."

During the speech, which was reportedly pre-recorded earlier this week, Kate touched on the past decade and those she has met along the way. "Over the last decade I 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 crucial role in shaping our futures. The early years are not simply about how we raise our children. They are in fact about how we raise the next generation of adults. They are about the society we will become." Kate notes early years work isn't about "the quick win" but "the big win".

Kate continued to note the economic impact in the UK of late intervention. "I care hugely about this because the science shows that the early years are more pivotal for future health and happiness than any other period in our lifetime. As many as 40% of our children will arrive at school with below the expected levels of development; and because the social cost of late intervention has been estimated to be over £17 billion a year." Kate touched on plans for the future, adding, "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. 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 Royal Foundation shared additional information on today's forum: 'This afternoon’s online forum is being hosted by Dr Xand Van Tulleken (Associate Professor of Public Health at University College London) and features 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’) taking part in a panel discussion on the findings of the research.' You can listen to the conversation below. It's a fascinating discussion.

There were 527,898 responses to the ‘5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives’ globally and 435,141 responses in the UK. Kensington Palace described the results as "a milestone moment" in Kate's early years work, telling royal reporters people would see the Duchess "in a new light" following today's speech. I was very interested to see the results and the impact of the pandemic on loneliness and isolation. The survey found the "increase in loneliness for parents is more apparent in the most deprived areas. These parents are more than twice as likely as those living in the least deprived areas to say they feel lonely often or always (13% compared with 5%). Compounding this, it seems there has been a rise in the proportion of parents who feel uncomfortable seeking help for how they are feeling from 18% before the pandemic to 34% during it".

The survey revealed 70% of parents feel judged by others and, among these parents, nearly half feel this negatively impacts their mental health.

90% of people see parental mental health and wellbeing as being critical to a child’s development, however only 10% of parents mentioned prioritising time to look after their own wellbeing when asked how they had prepared for the arrival of their baby.

98% of those surveyed said that that nurture is essential to lifelong outcomes, but only one in four recognise the specific importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

People reports:

'Eamon McCrory, a professor of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology at University College London who joined Kate's steering group on this topic in 2018, has seen her experience and expertise blossom over that time.

"She is working with homelessness and mental health and with parents and perinatal care — she sees all aspects of the system," he tells PEOPLE. "She’s talking to neuroscientists and is interested in understanding what it means for parents or what does it mean if we are interested in tackling mental health. She is really interested in putting the pieces together and having a cohesive response.”

“She has genuine curiosity and a real respect and understanding of the science," McCrory says. "It’s really impressive.”

A case study from the Royal Foundation's report on a mother's personal experience.

Parents were asked how they prepared when expecting baby. As noted earlier, only 10% were focused on their own wellbeing.


There was also information on trusted sources of information for parents with 57% turning to their own parents primarily for advice. Click here to read the report in full.


It's been quite the journey from the project's inception to today's findings. In September 2018, Rebecca English exclusively reported the Duchess was working a new project to help children failed by "broken Britain". "Among the issues Kate is exploring is how to support vulnerable families from the earliest possible stage in order to get their children ‘school-ready’ and able to cope with their mental and emotional needs. She and her expert advisers will also look at how to introduce better mental health support for primary school children, and at teaching parenting and relationship skills to teenagers before they even think of starting a family themselves."

In January, it was revealed Kate's project was an early years survey called 5 Big Questions. On a mini tour of the UK, the Duchess visited Cardiff, Birmingham, Woking, London, Belfast and Aberdeen and spoke to people about their experiences and opinions of the earliest years of children’s lives.


To mark the launch, Kate said, "Parents, carers and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I want to listen to them. As a parent I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children. The Early Years are more crucial for future health and happiness than any other moment in our lifetime. I want to hear the key issues affecting our families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most."


A refresher of the questions asked:

Question 1:
What do you believe is most important for children growing up in the UK today to live a happy adult life? Rank from most important to least important.

• Good physical and mental health
• Good friendships and relationships
• Access to opportunities
• Access to a good education

Question 2:
Which of these statements is closest to your opinion?

• It is primarily the responsibility of parents to give children aged 0-5 the best chance of health and happiness
• It is primarily the responsibility of others in society to give children aged 0-5 the best chance of health and happiness
• It is the shared responsibility of parents and others in society to give children aged 0-5 the best chance of health and happiness
• Don’t know

Question 3:
How much do you agree or disagree with this statement: the mental health and wellbeing of parents and carers has a great impact on the development of their child(ren)?

• Strongly agree
• Tend to agree
• Neither agree nor disagree
• Tend to disagree
• Strongly disagree

Question 4:
Which of the following is closest to your opinion of what influences how children develop from the start of pregnancy to age 5?

• Mostly the traits a child is born with (i.e. nature)
• Mostly the experiences of a child in the early years (i.e. nurture)
• Both nature and nurture equally
• Don’t know

Question 5:
Which period of a child and young person’s life do you think is the most important for health and happiness in adulthood?

• Start of pregnancy to 5 years
• 5-11 years (primary school)
• 11-16 years (secondary school)
• 16-18 years (further education)
• 18-24 years (young adulthood)
• Don’t know
• All equally important

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your views on the early years of childhood?

A poignant video from the Royal Foundation on the effort - Big Change Starts Small.

Additionally, Kensington Palace asked followers to submit questions for the Duchess to answer on their Instagram account. I expect we'll hear more on this over the weekend.


The early years are not simply about how we raise our children. They are in fact about how we raise the next generation of adults. They are about the society we will become. - The Duchess of Cambridge

Next, the several looks we saw Kate wear today. For her speech, the Duchess wore her dark rose Marks & Spencer suit.

The £99 Wool Blend Double Breasted Blazer is described: "Tailored fit with added stretch for a figure-defining silhouette. Italian wool-blend fabric creates a luxuriously smooth drape. Contrast button fastening."

The matching £59 Wool Blend Cropped Trousers feature a zip, hook and bar fastening, front pintucks and two functional side pockets. The suit has been sold out for some time.


In another video shared by the Duchess, we saw a glimpse of Kate's Equipment Slim Signature Polka Dot Shirt. The piece is reduced from $280 to $230 at Nordstrom presently.


Kate's red turtleneck jumper is a piece by GAP (with thanks to Regal RepliKate). It's currently reduced by 50% on GAP's website.


We also saw Kate wearing a Barbour jacket and cream sweater.


The sold-out jacket is from Barbour's collaboration with Alexa Chung (with thanks to Middleton Maven) Described as, "Made in England from glossy waxed-cotton, this 'Edith' jacket is detailed with all the signature details including multiple pockets, a soft corduroy collar and classic checked lining."


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In case you missed it, additional images were released by Kensington Palace last night. You can view them in this post in addition to our annual Black Friday feature. Luxury accessories brand Black.co.uk are offering readers a 30% discount on all orders (20% is applied automatically and an additional 10% will be deducted with the code HRH10). The discount applies to all orders.


I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Kate's Favourites