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."


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 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!


  1. I'm about 45 minutes in to the panel and this is such a great thing. It might seem basic, and it kind of is. But I think the fact that this is actually now a proper study that decisions can be formed around can make actual impact in decision made. So while Kate cannot be political per se, I have a hunch that this project might have big political impact in the long run, the long game. As a person interested in early childhood development and education, this is really facinating and so great to see brought to the forefront!

    1. Rebecca - So well said & I completely agree! xo

      Becca USA

  2. I am hugely thankful for this study. This is very emotional, the results are stunning, on so many levels. The results shock me . I am so thankful that The Duchess of Cambridge has been given this passion and has worked to develop our Early Years mindsets and how parents are coping. May her work continue to develop.

  3. What a wonderful launch to a meaningful and important project. For so many years, we have seen pieces of what Kate values and is looking toward, but it evident that she means for her early years focus to be meaningful and long term. She has obviously worked very hard to become a meaningful part of this team and project, and helping families have a firm foundation, and children to feel secure to grow is a vital and worthy endeavor. Kate so often seems to be a detailed person, more comfortable behind the scenes, but her passion and dedication to this cause are clear. I love the positive, working together tone that is set, also. Looking forward to seeing good things to come.

    1. So True! - I remember her mentioning that in their position, as Royals, they have the unique ability to take on long term... decades long projects that they can work on & follow through on for generations! It's true & such a special function of the BRF, especially when focused on something as important as this! :)

      Becca USA

  4. Fantastic. Love the work and the focus on trying to bring people together and keep awareness of the importance of these issues in the public eye.

  5. This is such an important issue and Kate has really taken charge of leading this campaign. May I say her maturity and ease of speaking are ever so present in this speech. Which is not to criticize, but applaud her after so many years of negative comments on her work ethic and role. Her words captured my attention and I didn’t really notice her appearance in the video. However, in the pictures above, I love her polished hair, lighter eye make up and my long desire for Kate to wear a slightly brighter lipstick.

    1. So well said Jax & I whole heartedly agree! Bravo Kate! xo

      Becca USA

  6. An important work. Im totally fascinated to see what will happen.

  7. One word: Gravitas. Kate hit this keynote out of the park! Looking forward to what’s next for this project.

    1. Perfect word for this Lacy!

    2. Yes.... Gravitas! xo

      Becca USA

  8. Valerie in Arizona28 November 2020 at 04:59

    This, in my opinion, shows the value of royalty. This wasn't about a political party, this won't end with the end of a political party in gov't. This went on regardless of what was happening in Westminster. Wonderful.

    1. Valerie, I could not agree more with your comment. The causes chosen by royals have been successful because it has no political agenda or attachment to it. I think this sends a message to activists on all political spectrums. That maybe your causes will be more popular and successful if don’t attach politics to it.

    2. I must add that all political parties have supported this project on social media so yes, it’s very well thought project.

    3. Yes & they can always have the long game in mind! Truly a very special role in the guidance & caring of a country & it's people.... & on the world stage effecting & inspiring others globally! Bravo! xo

      Becca USA

  9. Wow, this is remarkable! Her response on this project and in the video presented, actually made me cry! To see how far this project has come in such a short time has been astonishing! I am in awe of the immense work the Duchess as well as the many supporters researching and gathering materials to understand this matter has done. This project in an immensely important to future parents who are wanting to start a family, to start learning now. I am excited to see the continued development that will unfold in the coming months!! ♥️♥️♥️

  10. What a great project! Well done Kate and everybody who contributed their experience and opinion. I love the video "Big Change Starts Small", it seems so characteristic of Kate and her attitude! I'll be looking forward to watching how it all evolves and what changes it brings in the long run.

    1. So true Zora that "Big Change Starts Small" is Kate through and through and I believe we have all watched her live her convictions. I absolutely love the third photo down because I feel it depicts what has been the evolution of Kate from a somewhat shy and tentative young lady to beautifully confident, committed advocate for her causes. Looking forward, along with everybody else, to watching this initiative unfold. cc

    2. Ditto about the photo, CeCe - it caught my eye immediately! 😍

  11. A stunning example of graceful growth and maturity. Many of us may recall Catherine's shy start to the royal family, the non-stop criticism of her speaking skills, her treatment as another "fashion" discussion. She has persevered, matured and carved out a role as a "royal" business woman. She leads by example and will no doubt work passionately sponsoring early years for many decades.

    1. Very well said Anon 15:16! She has persevered and worked methodically to lay out a program for the ages, and would say 'graceful' is an excellent description of Kate.

  12. Kate is wonderful and what she says & does just reflect this, her beautiful soul. She might have been shy in public speaking, but she has always been a hard worker. And we can see the results & developments! This project is so valuable. Early years are so crucial for many skills and behaviours. (P.S. in the last video -with purple ribbon shirt- she looks a bit sick, though, like a cold or swollen eyes; but in case I wish her the best recovery). She is FAB.!

  13. It is worth noting, that while the Five questions about under fives got a huge response, it actually only form a very small part of the actual report. The report is mostly based on a series of other research project that has a much more scientific base.
    I remember a lot of people being very critical of the campaign in February because an online survey, with fairly common sense questions is not “very scientific”, which of cause it isn’t, but it gave a lot of people an opportunity to add their voice to a more scientific research process.

    1. I agree. I was critical in February because I didn’t see how the survey could bring much revealing information (and I would still say it didn’t) but the scientific back up makes it a well thought out base level for her next steps. On second thought- maybe the survey was really only added so people felt involved and therefore were much more likely to be interested to follow up. If so-smart move.
      It will be very interesting to see how she will proceed with this topic. Which charities will she add and how will she support them.

  14. I just love & admire everything about this initiative & Kate's Speech was by far her best yet! She has become quite a global force for good & for bringing us all greater awareness on the ways we can help support & nurture the next generations! Bravo!! xoxo

    Becca USA


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