The Princess of Wales travels to Leeds to speak to locals about her new initiative and take her campaign of bringing awareness of early years development to new levels.
Shaping Us, Kate Middleton’s newest campaign, kicked off this Monday with a landmark speech by Kate in London and the release of a claymation film that highlights how babies and youngsters develop due to their earliest experiences.
Bringing her campaign to Leeds Kirkgate Market with the goal of reaching the heart of a city community, Kate also surprised members of the public who got to see the Princess while doing their shopping.
One man in the crowd asked Princess Kate for a photo, to which she gladly obliged. While trying to switch to the front camera on his phone, the man blurted out: “I’m sorry. I’m really nervous.”
Quickly responding, she calmly said: “Please don’t worry. It’s okay, we all get nervous.” Princess Kate then smiled for the photo.
The Princess of Wales has a personal connection to city, Leeds being where her father, Michael Middleton, was born – with them having family ancestors in the county of Yorkshire.
Shirley Wainwright of Harrogate, Yorkshire, had a chat with the Princess, which she later relayed to the media. “She said she was really looking forward to being here, she said she’s got a massive family tree and that there’s a lot of history around here in Leeds and is determined to come back,” said Shirley.
At the market, Princess Catherine viewed a very large display of her Shaping Us campaign, afterwards she moved through the crowd of excited shoppers, all of whom seem to have had a good experience with the royal.
“She’s not standoffish. People are aware of who she is so they might not want to approach her but she’s very forthcoming,” said Angie Chilton, 72, to which her friend Joan added “She’s so natural with people.”
“We told her how Leeds is such a great place to bring up kids. Her campaign is a great initiative. It’s good for people who need it. We are fortunate that we have a good community network around us, but it’s good for those who don’t,” said Louise Keith, who had her 8-month-old baby Sadie with her.
During her visit, Kate also toured some of the stalls in the market, chatting with the fishmonger, some primary school teachers, and the owner of The Nut Shop, Joanne Johnson.
“I don’t think she would be as credible in this if she wasn’t a mother. She’s got three beautiful children to raise,” said Johnson, adding that the royal is in a good position to head the campaign “as she’s going to be our queen, so you’re going to listen to her.”
As to the importance of the campaign and those first few years Johnson said, “I was raised by my mother and my grandparents, and the things I learned from my grandma have stayed with me to this day,”
The Princess of Wales also found a moment to talk to three students – EishaSalem, 21, Emily Darby, 20, and Megan Dickinson, 31 – of Leeds City College, primary school teachers in training.
“We told her we are going to university to be primary school teachers, and she said how important the early years are for children and a great profession to get into,” said Salem. “She told us she thought it was a really good thing to be doing and great career choice, we’ve heard a bit about of her early years. She was really relatable and took time to speak to us.”
To more thoroughly explain her campaign, the Princess of Wales released an open letter on Saturday, where she elaborates: “During our very early childhood, our brains develop at an amazing rate — faster than any other time of our lives. Our experiences, relationships, and surroundings at that young age shape the rest of our lives. It is a time where we lay the foundations and building blocks for life. It is when we learn to understand ourselves, understand others and understand the world in which we live.”
“But as a society, we currently spend much more of our time and energy on later life,” she continued. “I am absolutely determined that this long-term campaign is going to change that. It will start by highlighting how we develop during early childhood and why these years matter so much in terms of shaping who we become. I will be joined by a remarkable group of experts spanning science, research, policymaking and front-line practice as well as an exciting group of well-known faces from music, sport and television to show all of us why it is in all of our interests to care about this.”