Kate Middleton is embarking on a landmark tour of the U.K.
The 24-hour excursion, which kicked off on Tuesday, will see her hopping from central England, to Wales and London as she launches the next stage of her ongoing initiative to support the early development of children. She is also set to debut a new survey centered around children under the age of 5.
The royal mom of three started her whirlwind tour in Birmingham on Tuesday. Dress in a green and blue chevron patterned shirt, she headed to MiniBrum at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, where she was shown around the interactive, mini-city by children who helped design the space. Kate, 38, also spoke to parents and carers about her new survey, which asks five questions about the under 5s. The questions include topics such as nature vs. nurture, health and happiness. The results will help guide what is done to help vulnerable children and families for generations to come.
“I’m here today to help launch a survey to hear society’s views about raising the next generation. 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,” she said.
“As a parent, I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children. I want to hear the key issues affecting our families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most. My ambition is to provide lasting change for generations to come.”
Sitting with moms and Kate Beaver, the managing director of polling company Ipsos MORI, Kate displayed some of the knowledge she has gained in eight years of immersing herself in the research and new thinking about the early years of childhood development.
“I have listened to experts, academics, practitioners and service providers who work every day to make our families and communities stronger,” she said. “I wanted to dig deeper to understand issues we face and how best to tackle them together.”
Princess Kate called the years between birth and 5 years old as “the most important years, for lifelong health and happiness,” and the crucial time which shapes the development of the brain.
A good foundation at that age can “help us avoid adversity, or certainly build resilience to adversity in later life, prevent challenges with mental health later down the line,” she said.
“I have spent time hearing first hand, the lasting effects of adverse childhood experiences, but also how positive protective factors a play crucial role in long-term outcomes for children.”
“Also, as a mother, it’s given me a different perspective. There’s so much pressure on parents to feel the responsibility is just down to them but actually it’s important to work together as a community.”
Kate, who is mom to Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, who turns 2 in April, is “so hands-on and involved with everything” when it comes to motherhood, friends of the royal mom tell PEOPLE.
“She wants to emulate her upbringing, living in the countryside with a close-knit family,” a friend says. “She desperately wants that normality for her own kids.”
Kate will continue her tour with more stops on Wednesday.
Run by the Royal Foundation that Kate heads along with husband Prince William, and conducted by Ipsos MORI, the new survey aims to spark what Kate’s office calls a “national conversation on the early years.” She hopes that the results will also guide her future work as she strives to give children the tools and foundations to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
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In May 2018, Princess Kate convened a steering group of experts in the area of mental wellbeing, education and childhood development. That concluded its work last spring. One of the members of the group, Kate Stephens, from the children’s charity the NSPCC, says about the survey, “The results will provide a fascinating insight into how we think about the early years and it will be a vital source of information for the sector.”
And David Holmes, chief executive of the charity Family Action (which Kate joined for some pre-Christmas fun in December), adds, “Every parent, carer and family wants the best for their child and raising the profile of the vital early years in a child’s life is work of national importance. The insight this survey will give the early years sector valuable direction in designing and delivering services and support which reflect what matters most to people.”