The Duchess of Cambridge has been praised for her “vision and commitment” in establishing a new institution to support the early years development of children ahead of her 40th birthday celebrations.
Kate’s work championing research into a child’s formative years is the cornerstone of her public life and has been highlighted by a senior figure from of one of the country’s leading mental health charities for children and young people.
Michael Samuel, chairman of trustees at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, said Kate had shown “passion and compassion” in her role as the organisation’s patron.
The duchess’ milestone anniversary will be celebrated on Sunday and is likely to be a private family event marked at the Cambridges’ home in Norfolk.
The landmark birthday heralds the start of an important decade for the monarchy and the future queen who will be at William’s side as events progress, watch her young family group up and pursue her own charitable interests.
Mr Samuel, who paid tribute to the duchess’ efforts establishing her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, said: “The duchess has been patron of the Anna Freud Centre since 2016.
“The centre runs vital research and training programmes and develops and shares practice to support children and family mental health.
“The duchess has carried out her role with passion and compassion.”
Based at Kensington Palace, the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood marks the culmination of ten years of work by the duchess into the importance of the formative years of a child’s life.
The institution, launched last summer, stems from research which shows the first five years of childhood fundamentally shape adulthood, with social challenges such as addiction, violence, family breakdown, homelessness and mental health having their roots in the earliest years of life.
Mr Samuel added: “The duchess has a sophisticated understanding of the scale of the problem and the importance of addressing it, not just for the here and now but for the future.
“Childhood mental health has a profound impact on quality of life in later life. Her Royal Highness has shown vision and commitment in establishing the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, which was set up with expert guidance from the Anna Freud Centre.
“She has also inspired the development of Mentally Healthy Schools, a website run by the centre which brings together quality assured mental health resources, information and advice for all schools across the UK.”
The saying that “life begins at 40” may not apply to Kate as her life arguably began when she married William in April 2011, her 30th year, and became a member of the royal family.
During the past decade the duchess’ life has changed immeasurably both in her royal duties and private life.
Kate is now the mother of three children, future king Prince George and his siblings Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Away from the school run and her royal duties in the UK she has toured the world with William, visiting Australia and New Zealand in 2014, India two years later and Ireland last year.
There have been a number of notable firsts for Kate who made her first official solo overseas trip in 2016 to the Netherlands, meeting the nation’s monarch King Willem-Alexander.
A year earlier the duchess attended her inaugural state banquet at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen in honour of the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During the pandemic the duchess’ creative side came to the fore and she launched her Hold Still photographic competition and exhibition, which has produced a book of images taken by the public documenting life in lockdown.