The Princess of Pie Charts “wrote” an “editorial,” you guys. Kate, the Princess of Wales, is leaning in so hard to her Early Years work. 2023 is going to be such a huge year for the Royal Foundation’s Centre for Early Years/Buttons, it’s going to be her very own Earthshot. In that Kate’s crack team of Tory operatives will put together something vague and Kate will slap her name on it, the same way she slaps on a wiglet to the back of her head. Here is Kate’s Telegraph editorial in all of its glory:
Over the past 10 years, talking to a wide range of experts about how we deal with societal issues like poor mental and physical health, I have become more and more sure of one thing: if we are going to create a healthier and happier society for future generations, we must start by understanding and acknowledging the unique importance of the first five years of life.
Early childhood, from pregnancy to the age of five, fundamentally impacts our whole lives, establishing the core foundations which allow us to go on to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society.
Over the past three decades, the body of evidence to support this has grown substantially. We now know that in the first five years of our lives, our brains develop faster than at any other time and that the impact of those years is hugely significant. It is the way we develop through our experiences, relationships and interactions at that very young age that shapes everything from our ability to form relationships and succeed at work, to our mental and physical health as adults.
There are fantastic examples of what can be achieved when we recognise the unique potential of early childhood and build a safe and loving world around a child.
But not enough is being done. If we are going to tackle the sorts of complex challenges we face today like homelessness, violence and addiction, which are so often underpinned by poverty and poor mental health, we have to fully appreciate those most preventative years and do everything we can to nurture our children and those who care for them.
We have an incredible opportunity, armed with all we now know as a result of the work of dedicated scientists, researchers and practitioners, to make a huge difference to the mental and physical health of generations to come. That is why I am determined to continue to shine a light on this issue and to do everything I can to secure much greater focus on those first crucial few years for the youngest members of our society – they are, after all, our future.
Whenever I actually sit down and read the statements prepared for Kate about Early Years, I’m always left feeling a bit unsettled. Yes, I think the early years of one’s life are important for development, and yes, of course we learn more all the time about how little kids are sponges in their environments, soaking in all of the bad and good influences. But lord, that’s true of kids of all ages, not just the under-5s.
What bugs me about Kate’s work is how she’s consistently limiting her focus. Kate’s argument is never “young children need a solid base of support/education/role-modeling good behavior, a base which needs to still be in place into adolescence, the teen years and young adulthood.” Like, I genuinely believe that KATE believes that if a kid has a screwed up home life when they’re 3 years old, everything is hopeless thereafter. Kate’s limited research doesn’t actual focus on… life in all of its complexities, and how different kids react differently to different stresses and life changes, nevermind the kids who (gasp) grow up in single-parent households or in economically disadvantaged households.
This issue was given to her as something easy, soft and uncomplicated, because who’s going to be “against” Kate turning up somewhere once a year and holding babies. But as the years go on and Kate has nothing to show for her decade of Early Years keenery, it does feel like she’s actively wasting people’s time.
Photos courtesy of Kensington Royal, Instar.