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The Princess of Wales has been kept informed amid her cancer treatment of how businesses are adopting her campaign on early childhood

Catherine, Princess of Wales smiles as she visits the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust on May 16, 2023 in Bath, England.
Kate Middleton visits the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust on May 16, 2023. PHOTO: KIN CHEUNG – WPA POOL/GETTY

Kate Middleton’s “exciting” work continues amid her cancer treatment.

The Princess of Wales’ initiative to encourage businesses to create the right conditions to help parents and their children is taking another step forward. The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood has published a new report that sets out the case for prioritizing early childhood and the first action to be taken as a result of its work.

Princess Kate, 42, has been out of public sight since she announced her cancer treatment in an emotional video message in March. Those close to her point out that this latest announcement by her team is not a signal of a return to work.

Kate — who is “doing well,” according to her husband, Prince William, in a comment made earlier this month — is not expected to return to work until she has been given the all-clear to do so by her medical team, palace sources say. But she was talked through the report’s findings and the next steps by Christian Guy, executive director of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Catherine, Princess of Wales with 3 yr old Beatrice during a Portage Session for her 'Shaping Us' campaign on early childhood

He said on the eve of the publication of “Prioritising Early Childhood for a Happier, Healthier Society,” “This is another crucial moment for Her Royal Highness’s early childhood work…its impact, and the work of her Centre for Early Childhood, is rolling on as she recovers.”

“[On Tuesday, May 21] some of the most significant businesses in Britain will be joining forces to deliver a ‘major early years rallying call’ to their fellow business leaders across the country…urging their peers to stand with them, the Centre for Early Childhood, and the Princess to help transform the way our country supports the vital early years,” he added.

Princess Kate kicked off her business task force last March.

Catherine, Princess of Wales arrives to attend the Shaping Us National Symposium at Design Museum on November 15, 2023 in London, England

Adds her spokesperson, “The work of The Prince and Princess’ projects is ‘always on,’ and that has been no different for the Centre over the past five months with a great deal of progress being made under [Guy, the center’s director]’s leadership.”

“However, early childhood is a huge priority for the Princess and so she has been kept fully updated throughout the development of the Taskforce’s work, and she has seen the report,” the spokesperson says.

Guy said in a briefing as the report was unveiled, “I know that she is enormously grateful to the members of the Taskforce who have made such fantastic progress on this work over the past year.”

“She feels passionately about the transformational impact of getting this right together, both for the current generation and for many more to come,” he adds. “I know that she is keen to encourage all businesses, no matter what their size or purpose, to join us on this journey and is looking forward to seeing momentum grow in the coming months.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales makes a key note speech during the Shaping Us National Symposium at Design Museum

The Princess of Wales has often spoken of how early childhood can be the root of a happier, healthier more nurturing society – and that includes a stronger, well-equipped workplace. Last year, she launched the Business Taskforce “to create a key bridge,” as her spokesman puts it, between the scientific community and businesses, encouraging those businesses large and small to help change attitudes towards early childhood.

It is part of her ongoing, broader Shaping Us campaign which aims to educate people of the importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

Guy adds, “She’s excited by it. Shaping Us was about raising awareness, but also what is so important to her is action. So, to have eight of the most significant businesses in Britain come forward to make the case to their fellow business leaders is exciting for her and a priority going forward for the Centre.”

Initially, there are eight companies in the task force, and she would like to see other companies “joining the movement.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales takes part in a Dad Walk in the local park during a visit to Dadvengers, a community for dads and their children

Sir Ron Kalifa, Chair of The Business Taskforce for Early Childhood, recalled the first meeting of the task force in March 2023, at which Kate “addressed the CEOs with such knowledge and passion for this subject. I think it is fair to say that we all left feeling inspired, energized, and determined to find our way of being part of what she described then as transformative change.” He referred to Kate’s op-ed piece in the Financial Times at the time “describing investing in early childhood as a downpayment on all of our futures.”

The report makes a strong economic case for change, and Khalifa pointed to the creation of a happier, more productive workforce by building a future workforce equipped with the skills needed to navigate the complex challenges of the modern world and the social and emotional skills — such as communications, empathy, adaptability, creativity and resilience — that Kate talked about at her initial Shaping Us National Symposium.

The report quantifies for the first time the monetary value of making changes — $57.2 billion — to the British economy.

Catherine, Princess of Wales takes part in a Dad Walk in the local park during a visit to Dadvengers, a community for dads and their children
Kate Middleton goes on a Dad Walk as part of her Shaping Us campaign on November 1, 2023.YUI MOK – WPA POOL/GETTY

The report also outlines what the authors call five “game changers,” or areas where businesses can have the most impact on early childhood. That includes changing culture to prioritize early childhood and helping secure the necessities that will help families that face the greatest challenges access the basic support and essentials that they need. This area focuses on supporting working parents and caregivers in our current workforce by offering greater resources, choice or flexibility with the work that they undertake.

A fourth concentrates on strengthening social and emotional skills, while the fifth one concentrates on improving early childhood education and care.

The Princess of Wales’ team also hopes that it will drive forward and create a long-term legacy and that it might one day take on an international dimension.


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