The Princess of Wales opened the BBC’s Children in Need on Friday evening with a plea that every childhood is nurtured.
The 41-year-old, whose work is largely focused on the early years, said young children had to feel “safe, secure and loved” in order to reach their potential as adults.
The Princess said in a pre-recorded video message: “Tonight is all about helping to support, champion and empower all children to be the very best they can be, which is crucial for their future health and happiness.
“Our relationships, surroundings and experiences during the earliest years lay the foundations that shape the rest of our lives.
“And yet sadly, we know that for too many people, stressful and traumatic situations in early childhood can cause harm and it can take many years to overcome.”
She went on: “It is vital, therefore, that we nurture every childhood and why the sorts of projects supported by Children in Need are so important.
“They help the very youngest, most vulnerable members of our society feel safe, secure and loved in these important, formative years, so that they can enjoy their childhoods now, and grow to reach their potential and thrive in the world in later life.”
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The Princess, who has never before appeared on the annual show, told viewers: “I hope you enjoy this evening’s show and best of luck to all those taking part in challenges and the incredible fundraising effort.”
Her appearance came after the Prince of Wales featured in the BBC’s Red Nose Day coverage in March.
The heir to the throne spoke to Groundswell, a homelessness charity supported by Comic Relief, about how his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had introduced him to the cause at an early age.
The Princess lent her weight to the Children in Need appeal just days after she delivered a landmark speech at a symposium organised by her Royal Foundation’s Centre for Early Childhood in central London.
Unveiling the results of an international study involving 110 experts from 21 countries on Wednesday, she said that nurturing social and emotional skills was “just as valuable to our long-term success as reading, writing or arithmetic”.
The mother of three warned that “new thinking and action” was needed at every level as she called on society to prioritise the “inner worlds” of children.
Kensington Palace said the study marked the first time the Princess had used her global convening power – a clear sign that she wanted its findings to form the basis of an international movement.
“This is the next level,” said a spokesman. “This is the blueprint for how she will think about the future of her work.
“We are not here to lobby policy but to set out a global framework that the early childhood sector can use. We know there are levers we can pull but policy isn’t one of them.”
Christian Guy, director of the centre, said of her speech: “It’s almost a manifesto for social and emotional skills.”