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Kate Middleton Launches New Taskforce to Support Early Childhood Mission: 'It Really Does Take a Village'

People 3/21/2023 Simon Perry

The Princess of Wales asked influential business leaders to "think a little more radically" about building healthy social ecosystems for children to thrive in

DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales © Provided by People DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales

Kate Middleton is widening her mission for children.

The Princess of Wales, 41, is focusing on business and finance leaders in the next stage of her campaign to highlight the importance of the early years.

After working with academic and mental health experts over the last decade, Princess Kate is now including business professionals. On Tuesday morning, she stepped out at NatWest bank's London headquarters for the first meeting of her new Business Taskforce for Early Childhood.

The new group follows the January launch of her Shaping Us campaign to take what has been an area of scientific and academic interest into a "strategically important" one. Kate, who wore a white blazer with trousers for the meeting, believes that early childhood holds a key to people's long-term health and well-being. She hopes the Business Taskforce will play an essential role in her work to transform the way society prioritizes and supports children and their environments in the earliest years, her office at Kensington Palace says.

Related:Kate Middleton Celebrates U.K. Mother's Day with Sweet Post Featuring All 3 Kids — See the Photo!

DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales © Provided by People DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales

Giving a speech at the event, Kate spoke about how the first five years of a child's life are critical to lay the building blocks for life, but their environment plays a huge role in that development.

"This, however, is not just about supporting children in the earliest years of their lives. It is also about building healthy communities in which they can grow. Because the healthy development of our children relies on healthy adults. So this is why we all have a part to play," she said. "And that is why I'm standing here in front of you, to ask you, some of Britain's most influential business leaders, for your support in helping create the societal change that is needed."

Princess Kate continued, "I have spoken before about the need to make early childhood the societal equivalent of climate change. In the way that the business world has embraced the net zero target to protect our environmental ecosystems, you also have an important role to play in ensuring that our social ecosystems are protected too. Your business organizations are living examples of these social ecosystems, so building healthy environments both in and out of the workplace is fundamental."

Kate acknowledged how many people in the business sector are parents or carers, but encouraged them to "think a little more radically."

"I know businesses are feeling the pressure across the board. However, I truly believe that by investing in early childhood, with a specific focus on social and emotional development, businesses in turn will see in the future… better communication, better working relationships, improved resilience, employees finding better work–life balance, less stress, more patience and understanding and increased job satisfaction," she said. "Not only that, but the societal impact we could have, if we work together on this, could transform lives for generations to come. As the saying goes, it really does take a village."

DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales © Provided by People DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales

Amanda Berry, chief executive of the Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales, said in a statement, "We all have a role to play in building a supportive and nurturing world around children and those who care for them, and it is fantastic to see business leaders placing the subject of early childhood at the heart of their organizations."

"Businesses play a key role within society and with their huge reach to their employees, consumer and the wider community, their involvement can have a transformative impact on the health and happiness of generations to come."

NatWest Group chief executive Dame Alison Rose echoed, "This is a critical issue for the future growth and success of our businesses, our economy and our society."

"As business leaders, we have an important responsibility to the colleagues, customers and communities we serve. This Taskforce can deliver positive change by bringing together a wealth of experience across the private sector to help provide the support and resources that young children and their carers need to thrive," Rose said.

Matt Porteous © Provided by People Matt Porteous

Over the weekend, as if to underline Kate's longtime philosophy of encouraging outdoor play, she released a photograph of her and her three children, Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4, sitting together in a tree.

The pictures, issued to mark what was Mother's Day in the U.K., also included a delightful one of her holding her playful youngest, Louis.

Related:Kate Middleton Brings a Special Accessory to Early Years Meeting — Which She Debuted at Harvard!

Matt Porteous © Provided by People Matt Porteous

In January, as she took her Shaping Us campaign on the road to the northern English city of Leeds. There, she visited Leeds Kirkgate Market to discuss early childhood with vendors and members of the public, before spending time at the University of Leeds to meet with students studying in the area.

After a lecture on the "Psychological Approaches to Understanding and Supporting Children's Learning" Kate then sat down to talk to a group taking Childhood Studies.

Dr. Katie Gathercole, who leads the class, told PEOPLE that it "was wonderful" to see the interaction and conversation between the students and the Princess on what was clearly a common passion.

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"There was so much of shared interest and understanding of issues to do with early childhood," Gathercole told PEOPLE. "We are really happy that she's identified early childhood. Children and young people's experiences have not been on the public's and society's radar, or the political radar, for what seems like a long time. So having someone as high profile as the Princess of Wales highlighting these really important years in a child's life is really wonderful — not just for us and our course but for society as a whole. Her message aligns with what we do on the course."

And Gathercole was impressed with Kate's knowledge of the subject. "She does know what she is talking about, absolutely. She is familiar with the really important research around it and the science that she talks about really does stack up," she said. "This research-informed material is going into this campaign."

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