Friday, 14 February 2020

UPDATED: Duchess Kate Recalls Childhood Memories For First Podcast Interview

In her very first podcast interview, the Duchess of Cambridge has spoken candidly about motherhood, childhood memories and her passion for early years work as part of her efforts surrounding the launch of 5 Big Questions which runs until 21 February. Kate spoke with Giovanna Fletcher of the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast. Kensington Palace said: "Having met in Birmingham at the launch of 5 Big Questions on the Under Fives, the Duchess of Cambridge and Giovanna Fletcher sat down after a joint visit to LEYF Stockwell Gardens Nursery in London to talk about the work that has built up to this landmark survey, the importance of the early years, and some of their shared experiences as mothers to three children. Their conversation will be released this Saturday, 15th February, at 1600hrs as a special episode of Giovanna’s Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast – a series of frank and warm conversations with mums and dads covering all aspects of parenthood, from tackling loneliness, to being a single parent".

Speaking about the survey during the conversation, the Duchess said: "I think ultimately if you look at who’s caring and looking after and nurturing children in the most vital period from pregnancy all the way to the age of five, you know parents and carers are right at the heart of that, and families are right at the heart of that, and although I’ve spoken to the scientists and the service providers, it’s so important to listen to families. What is it that they aspire to? What are their challenges? What we’re doing with the survey is asking people – what is it that matters for them in raising their children today. It’s going to take a long time – I’m talking about a generational change – but hopefully this is the first small step: to start a conversation around the importance of Early Childhood development. It’s not just about happy, healthy children. This is for lifelong consequences and outcomes."

When asked what parts of her childhood she would want to give her own children, the Duchess recalled memories with her grandmother and spoke of the importance of quality relationships:

“If I take the experience from my own childhood, coupled with what I know now and what I’ve learnt from the experts in the Early Years sector, I think there’s a few things that really stand out for me.
"One is quality of relationships. So, those moments that you spend with people that are around you. I remember that from my own childhood. I had an amazing Granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us, and I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now.
"There are also the environments you spend time in as well: a happy home, a safe environment. As children, we spent a lot of time outside and it’s something I’m really passionate about. I think it’s so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying [developmental] foundations. It’s such a great environment to spend time in, building those quality relationships without the distractions of ‘I’ve got to cook’ and ‘I’ve got to do this’. And actually, it’s so simple.”

Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author Giovanna Fletcher said: “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have, or where you come from - we’re all trying to do our best with our children while continuously doubting our decisions and wondering if we’re getting it completely wrong. Talking helps unite us all. Having been with the Duchess of Cambridge on a couple of engagements to celebrate the launch of the 5 Big Questions survey, it was clear how passionate she is about the Early Years. It was then beyond wonderful to sit and talk further about the survey, her work – for which she has so much knowledge, and her own experiences of being a mother. This is a very special episode of the podcast and I’m very excited for people to hear it.” Giovanna is married to Tom Fletcher from the band McFly. They have three children Buzz, Max and Buddy. She often speaks very openly about her own family and experiences.

The popular podcast has seen Giovanna speak to a host of well-known faces including Kate Ferdinand, Jessie Ware, Katherine Jenkins, Caitlin Moran, Nadiya Hussain and Davina McCall about parenting. The podcast very much focuses on the importance of supporting each other and not only discussing the amazing moments but the challenging times every parent faces. One of the best aspects of this survey has been hearing Kate's voice more, it adds another layer to her early years work. Hearing directly from the royals in their own words is the most effective way to share messages on the causes closest to their hearts.

A quick refresher on Kate's look in the new image shared. The Duchess wore a petrol blue coat (it remains unidentified), Sézane Tulio Jumper, Accessorize earrings and Russell & Bromley Fab Dry boots during the visit to (LEFY) Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-school in London.

Omid Scobie reports members of the press heard the content during a Kensington Palace briefing and said the Duchess was incredibly candid. "She spoke about parts of her own childhood and some of the things she would have taught herself if she knew what she knew now. I think what really stood out from this was just Kate speaking from the heart. She talks about how motherhood has been challenging and how her first pregnancy with Prince George was the toughest experience of her life. She said she was actually quite excited about giving birth, because it meant the end of that chapter." Kate also shared fun anecdotes about the the day she and William took George home and how William practiced putting a doll in the baby car seat in preparation for the Lindo Wing departure. The podcast will be live at 4 pm (GMT) tomorrow, when it's uploaded click here to listen to it. I'm very much looking forward to hearing it in its entirety.

UPDATE: To celebrate the launch of the podcast, Kate shared a new photo of Charlotte which she discussed with Giovanna.

“I’ve got this one photo of Charlotte smelling a bluebell, and really for me it’s moments like that mean so much to me as a parent. I try every day to put moments like that in, even if they’re small or even if I don’t have time” - The Duchess of Cambridge

With George and Charlotte on half term break for the coming week, I wouldn't expect we'll see Kate undertaking engagements. On Wednesday, 26 February, Kate, Patron of SportsAid, will visit the London Stadium at the Olympic Park in Stratford to join a SportsAid event dedicated to celebrating the role that parents and guardians play in their child’s sporting success.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Kate Takes 5 Big Questions Tour To Northern Ireland & Scotland

Today, the Duchess of Cambridge took her 5 Big Questions tour to Northern Ireland and Scotland. It follows engagements in London, Woking and Cardiff in recent weeks to promote the survey and to hear from people across their UK about their views on early years. In excellent news, the engagement coincided with an update from Kensington Palace revealing 200,000 people have participated making it the biggest open survey of its kind in the UK to date.

Kate was welcomed to Belfast by Democratic Unionist Party Leader Arlene Foster. In a tweet, she said "lots of excited children....and adults" were awaiting the royal visit.

For her first solo visit to Northern Ireland, Lady Carrickfergus (as she's styled when visiting NI) began the day with a visit to Ark Open Farm near Belfast, to speak with families about themes covered in the survey.

I'm a very firm believer in the importance of royals travelling across the UK and connecting with communities and forging bonds with people who very rarely see a member of the family visiting their town of city. It was great to see today's visit focusing on that and involving locals.

Upon arrival, it was time to meet some of the excited children Kate heard about when she landed.

Kensington Palace said: "The Ark Open Farm opened in 1990 as one of the first open farms in Northern Ireland. Having initially specialised in rare breeds of farm animals, the farm has now developed a number of play areas and activities for children. Open farms such as this are important in providing places in the community for family members of all generations to spend quality time together, while allowing children to benefit from spending time outdoors."

The Ark Open Farm is a family run business with a team filled with animal lovers striving to offer the best care to animals and visitors alike.

The Belfast Telegraph reports:

'Owner Stewart Donaldson who runs the popular family attraction with his wife, Lorraine joked that he had been warned beforehand that there is one particular Ark Farm resident the Royal wasn't keen on meeting - a snake.
Mr Donaldson told Belfast Telegraph that he was delighted to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge to Ark Open Farm in what is a very special year for the family-run farm.
"It's our 30th anniversary. We're all very excited. It was quite a job keeping her visit secret. We had only 10 days notice," he explained. "We have a plaque which Kate will unveil to mark our 30th anniversary."

When it was time to meet Sophie the corn snake Kate said "Wow". She told the children "It's the first time I've ever held a snake".

Kate seemed rather taken with this alpaca.

Kate joined a group of children to feed a lamb.

During a chat with parents, Kate was interested to hear their thoughts on children's earliest years and experiences.

The Duchess heard about the most important factors that ensure children become happy adults and the role of parents and society in ensuring children have the best possible start in life.

Kate met Education Minister Peter Weir and discussed her early years work.

Before leaving, Kate met a number of families. She thanked them for participating in the survey and said "It's really interesting to get everyone's perspectives" and told two children "Charlotte and George will be very sad not to have met you and see this really cool farm".

A video from the engagement.

From there, the Countess of Strathearn travelled to Aberdeen, Scotland.

Kate visited Social Bite café to speak with employees, supported volunteers and regular customers who have experienced homelessness.

Kate got to work in the kitchen and tried her hand at making a chicken wrap.

The Telegraph reports:

'The duchess asked Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson: “Have you found examples of how an individual’s childhood has affected them, leading them to where they are now?
“You obviously see a lot of issues close up, people who come into the cafe to perhaps reach out and you help them. “It’s a really big thing to be able to do that and understand everyone’s story and the journey they are on.”
Ms Thompson said: “Oh absolutely, it’s such a massive factor in what we see in our work and we see so many of the same patterns emerging all the time.”
The Duchess rolled up her sleeves in the basement kitchen to try her hand at making one of the site’s most popular dishes - a chicken wrap. Ms Thompson announced “We’ll have to get you on the rota” to which Kate replied “Well I was taught very well”.'

When Kate sat down with a group of people involved with and supported by Social Bite she said "So often, many issues are caused by family breakdowns and that can have a huge effect on a child’s development in their early years."

Hannah Furness reports Kate discussed the "many issues caused by family breakdowns" that can impact someone from childhood through their adult life. She praised the work of the organisation and the "advantage" it offers.

Social Bite runs social enterprise cafés throughout Scotland and use this platform to distribute 100,000 items of food and hot drinks to homeless people each year, as well as employing staff who have experienced homelessness themselves.

A group shot before Kate returned to London.

There's a great video of the visit below with plenty of footage from the kitchen (as wraps were prepared) and a glimpse into the many conversations Kate had today.

The Duchess shared a message to thank all those who have participated thus far:

'What has struck me most is that so often the challenges people face in later life, whether mental health, homelessness or family breakdown – can so often be traced back to experiences in their earliest years.
It prompted me to delve deeper into the early years landscape and learn more from the experts, the scientists and the amazing people providing services on the ground. But now is the time to get the views from everyone in society.
I wanted to hear directly from people across the UK and it’s great to have been able to talk to people in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and across England about their experiences. 
I want to thank the 200,000 people who have filled it out because each and every response will help show us what society really thinks about raising the next generation. I am excited to hear from even more people before it closes on 21st February.'

Now, a look at what Kate wore today.

The Duchess wrapped up in her Barbour Defence jacket for her visit to Northern Ireland. It's been a staple in Kate's wardrobe for years. Middleton Maven notes a new version of the classic style is available at Saks Fifth Avenue for pre-order.

In Scotland, the Duchess changed into her Reiss Delaney Jacket. The grey jacket is from the brand's AW13 Collection and retailed for $520 before selling out.  It's a collarless, wool-rich coat with seam detail to the front, back and sleeves, with slit pockets to the front, and fastens with a single concealed button.

Kate first wore the piece during a visit to Shooting Star Hospice in 2013.

Kate's new blue jumper appears to be the Pure Collection Cashmere Roll Neck Sweater (with thanks to Kate's Royal Closet). The £125 piece in 'Heather Cornflower' is available at Next and on the Pure Collection website. It's also available in several colours at John Lewis.

Kate wore her Penelope Chilvers Tassel boots.

And accessorised with a new pair of Catherine Zoraida earrings (another great ID from Kate's Royal Closet). The Gold Fern Hoop earrings retail for £165.

If you haven't participated in 5 Big Questions, you can still do so by clicking here.

Kate's Favourites