Duchess of Cambridge's 'lifetime's work' will be 'transforming society' with new centre

·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Watch: Kate launches Centre for Early Childhood to create ‘more nurturing world’

The Duchess of Cambridge has launched what is expected to be her landmark royal project, as she sets her sights on transforming society, with a project she believes is the equivalent of climate change.

On Friday, Kate announced the Centre for Early Childhood through her Royal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of her work with Prince William, which sets out to raise awareness of the importance of the first five years of a child's life.

An aide to the duchess told the PA news agency that Kate believes issues in early childhood are the "social equivalent to climate change" - the project William has committed himself to over his lifetime.

Launching the centre, Kate said: "Working closely with others, the Centre hopes to raise awareness of why the first five years of life are just so important for our future life outcomes, and what we can do as a society to embrace this golden opportunity to create a happier, more mentally healthy, more nurturing society. 

"By working together, my hope is that we can change the way we think about early childhood, and transform lives for generations to come. Because I truly believe big change starts small." 

This centre will be considered the equivalent of Prince Philip's Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, or Prince Charles's Prince's Trust. 

Kate launched her new project with a video shared on social media. (Royal Foundation/Kensington Palace)
Kate launched her new project with a video shared on social media. (Royal Foundation/Kensington Palace)

Read more: Duchess of Cambridge launches Centre for Early Childhood: 'We can break the cycle for next generation'

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine, said: "The Duchess of Cambridge's Centre for Early Childhood has been a decade in the making, and clearly during those 10 years she has acquired in-depth knowledge of all aspects of this topic, not least as a mother of three young children.

"It's something she's passionate about and that passion won't diminish, even when her job title changes and she becomes Princess of Wales and later Queen Catherine." 

Penny Junor, royal biographer, told Yahoo UK: "I think Kate is playing a hugely important role in the future of this country with her Early Childhood Centre. 

"She is not just highlighting but she is attempting to tackle one of society’s most fundamental problems - and one that has long been recognised but never adequately addressed. 

"The fact that she has gone slowly suggests she has studied the subject properly, from every perspective and sought advice from the experts. Also that she is thinking long-term. 

"This could well be as significant to the health and well-being of future generations as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme."

Watch: Kate discusses early years education with US First Lady

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Television doctor Chris Van Tulleken wrote in the Daily Mail: "In many ways this is the duchess's starting point - that investing in our children is an investment that ultimately benefits every single person in the UK today.

"It will not be easy and it will not happen overnight, but her commitment to helping to transform our society for generations is something the duchess made very clear.

"She sees it as her lifetime's work."

He added that he believes it will be "a milestone moment in this country". 

But while it's a worthy crusade, there may be a careful balancing act for Kate in the years to come, to ensure she maintains political neutrality. 

She has already worked with the Democrat US first lady Jill Biden - as the two women pledged to work together across nations to share information and data as they commit to the early years.

Richard Palmer, Daily Express royal reporter, tweeted: "Kate’s launch of a new research centre, which will employ half a dozen people initially, is a statement of her intent to transform society’s attitudes towards raising children in their first five years. It’s a lifetime’s mission for her.

"It’s also a difficult balancing act for a member of the Royal Family. She can’t be seen to be party political but will hope to influence policy makers, just as Charles has done on the environment and previous generations going back to Prince Albert have done on other issues." 

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets children from Edzell Nursery as she visits Starbank Park to hear about the work of Fields in Trust, along with Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in Edinburgh, Scotland on May 27, 2021. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate with children from Edzell Nursery during a visit to Starbank Park to hear about the work of Fields in Trust in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 2021. (Phil Noble/AFP)

Read more: Duchess of Cambridge says COVID-19 made her value family connections even more

The Daily Telegraph said of the centre: "The centre is considered a landmark step in the Duchess’s work and a signal of her lifelong commitment to the subject, reflecting the future Queen's 'unique, long-term leadership position'."

Jess Ilse, senior reporter at Royal Central, tweeted: "I'm impressed at how comprehensive the Centre for Early Childhood is; and how, for a decade, Kate has been building her skillset and knowledge base to be able to launch an initiative of this calibre.

"This will yield tangible, valuable results and is something that Kate will focus on for the rest of her life. I can't wait to see how this grows over time!"

A royal aide told the PA news agency: "The vision that the duchess has is for a happier, healthier and more nurturing world.

"The centre’s mission is to drive awareness of and action on the extraordinary impact of the early years, changing what we think and do in early childhood in order to transform society for generations to come.

"That’s a big mission and vision but we’re going to be grounded in some really tangible, practical actions."

What's clear from the duchess's announcement is that she has taken her time, consulted experts and sought to make a measured and sustainable intervention in society.

Her work will shape and define not just her royal life, but could impact the whole monarchy for years to come.

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