Thursday, 22 March 2018

Kate Celebrates the Commonwealth on Final Engagements Before Maternity Leave!

Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting next month, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stepped out for two engagements celebrating the Commonwealth in London.

Kensington Palace confirmed today marks Kate's final engagements before her maternity leave.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (April 16-20) is one of the most important events on the royal calendar this year. Leaders from all 53 member countries will gather in London and Windsor to reaffirm common values, address the shared global challenges faced and agree how to work to create a better future for all Commonwealth citizens, particularly young people. It will be the largest summit every held in Britain and the royal family will be out in force for a series of receptions, meetings, forums and a glittering state banquet at Buckingham Palace. The week will conclude on April 21 with a special birthday concert for the Queen celebrating her lifelong relationship with the Commonwealth.

Although the Duchess will be on maternity leave during the week, she has attended important events in the lead up, including the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange and the Commonwealth Day service.

The couple met schoolchildren before heading inside.

A sea of flags and terrific artwork on display.

Kate chatting with children.

William greets excited pupils.

They were both in great spirits.

William and Kate began the day at a SportsAid event at the Copper Box in the Olympic Park.

The visit comes less than a month before the 2018 Commonwealth Games get underway on the Gold Coast with hundreds of previous SportsAid recipients set to represent home nations across a wide range of sports.

SportsAid is the only national charity of its kind - helping young British sportsmen and women aspiring to be the country's next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions. Every year SportsAid supports over 1,000 athletes - the vast majority aged 12-18 - by providing a financial award to help with training and competition costs. The charity also helps develop other vital skills for professional athletes, such as media training, nutritional advice and performance lifestyle guidance. Kate has been patron of the charity since 2013.

The royals watched a wheelchair basketball session and met the players, some of whom hope to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in which the sport will feature for the first time.

With a little support from Kate, Prince William has a go...

...and scores!

The couple posed for official photos.

Finally the Duke and Duchess participated in a Commonwealth Quiz in which athletes, coaches and supporters were questioned on their knowledge of the Commonwealth Games.

Next, The Duke and Duchess took part in preparations for a Commonwealth Big Lunch at St Luke's Community Centre.

An arrival video.

The centre provides services and activities for locals at the heart of the EC1 community, and has a range of facilities including a fully-equipped Cookery School, which runs community classes on healthy, home cooking and avoiding food waste.

On arrival William and Kate were given a briefing on the work of the community centre in the café.

Then it was time to get their aprons on!

The couple chatted about the menu and options on offer.

William and Kate took part in a recipe workshop and discussion in the kitchen with service users, who regularly discuss their favourite dishes and what inspires them to make them.

More from the Mail Online:

'William told staff in the kitchen that he enjoyed cooking, as did Kate. Asked what his favourite cuisine was, the prince said he ‘really loved curries’. ‘I love a lot of things, curries, really do love curries. I do like fish as well, I like Italian, pasta, and pizza, really love pizza. I don’t make it but the children do. I just eat. 
Kate earlier told a community centre user, Yolanda from Bolivia, that their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, loved to make pizza. ‘I have done that with George and Charlotte, making pizza dough. They love that, don’t they? Because they can get their hands messy,’ she said, smiling.
The royal couple were asked to put garnishes on the dishes before they were taken out to members of the local community to dine on. Told he would help with a Malaysian dish, William said: ‘Not Durian Fruit [ a pungent Asian delicacy] is it? I fell for that one before, never again!
He was also asked if he spoke Spanish . ‘Un poquito [a little] ,’ he laughed,’but I’m not brave enough to try it here!’ Kate said she was a keen cook. ‘Yes, yes, I cook a lot,’ she told Sofia Larrincua-Craxton, the manager of the cookery school. '

William certainly looks like he knows his way around the kitchen :)

However, he joked "She knows, but I have no idea".

People all over the world are being encouraged to host a Commonwealth Big Lunch. More from the Palace: "Commonwealth Big Lunches are delivered in partnership with the Eden Project. They are simply about sharing food and bringing people together to celebrate what we have in common. From a couple of people in a back garden to hundreds in a community space, by hosting or attending a lunch you'll be joining millions of people across the Commonwealth in the official summit celebrations. We already have some exciting lunches confirmed; from a research ship off the coast of South Africa to a school of 30,000 pupils in India, we are aiming for a lunch in every Commonwealth country."

A short and sweet video from Simon Perry.

The Duchess looked stylish in a 'smart casual' ensemble today. Kate sported her much loved GOAT Redgrave coat. She first wore the piece in 2013 when she was expecting Prince George for a visit to Child Bereavement UK and again last November for an engagement with Family Action. She was also spotted wearing it last week for a tennis meeting at Kensington Palace.

The nude A lined shaped coat features side seam diagonal welt pockets. It's described as "classic and sophisticated". The piece remains available in several colours at GOAT and FarFetch.


Kate debuted a very pretty new top by Hobbs London. The Blue Rosie Top features a charming floral print - perfect for Spring! Offering an elegant boat neck, the piece has flattering three quarter-length sleeves with notch detailing. The top is on sale on the Hobbs UK website for £49 and Debenhams (reduced to £44). It retails on the Hobbs US website for £165. It's also available at Bloomingdales and Next.

Hobbs London

A closer look at the print.

The Rosie dress featuring the same print is available at Hobbs London and Bloomingdales.

Hobbs London

The talented ladies from What Kate Wore FB believe Kate is wearing the Seraphine Slim Leg Black Maternity Jeans.

It appears Kate teamed the look with her Stuart Weitzman Power pumps.

Kate carried her Mulberry Bayswater clutch.

Kate wore her Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.


And accessorised with her Annoushka pearls and Kiki McDonough hoops.

I very much enjoyed today's engagements. William and Kate make a great double act. It's an incredibly exciting time for them with just weeks to go until the arrival of Baby Cambridge. Unless there's a surprise Easter Sunday appearance, the next time we see Kate, she'll have a little prince or princess in her arms :)

We have a number of posts in the planning during Kate's maternity leave :)

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Duchess Convenes a Symposium on Early Intervention in Mint Green Jenny Packham!

Continuing her series of engagements focused on early years, the Duchess of Cambridge convened a symposium on the importance of early intervention to provide solid social and emotional platforms for children.

The Royal Foundation organised the symposium on Kate's behalf, inviting leading academics and charities that are championing the importance of early intervention to make children healthier and more resilient later in life, thus avoid serious problems which often emerge only in adolescence or in adult years.

The event was held at the Royal Society of Medicine.

Kensington Palace said: "Stemming originally from her interests in issues such as addiction and the effects of family breakdown, and her visits to charities and support organisations, Her Royal Highness has been struck time and time again by how so many of society's greatest social and health challenges often stem from problems that start to manifest themselves in the earliest years of life." During the Royal Foundation Forum, Kate said she hoped to continue focusing on mental health and early years; two areas she feels passionately about.

The Duchess has been exploring these issues on an individual basis through a number of engagements and roundtables in recent months. The Palace added: "The symposium draws these strands together enabling the gathered experts to explore the potential for an integrated strategy on early intervention."

The symposium, hosted by the Royal Foundation and chaired by President of the Royal Society for Medicine and Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King's College London, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, brought together academics, researchers, practitioners, educators and charities to explore issues such as perinatal, maternal and infant mental health; parenting support and advice; and resources for schools and educators.

More from the Mail Online:

'Professor Sir Simon Wessely thanked the Duchess for the work she and Prince William and Prince Harry had done on mental health. It had, he said, been 'fantastic in all sorts of ways, and in particular in engaging with ordinary people, with friends, families, relatives and indeed non-professionals for the work they can do, which is probably more important than the work any of us do… in improving the mental health and resilience of our nation.'

Experts discussing early intervention.

Professor Neil Humphrey spoke about Mentally Healthy Schools. He said "50% of lifetime mental health issues begin before the age of 14 and that children from deprived areas are 4.5 times more likely to develop a mental health issue".

Kate launched Mentally Healthy Schools in January during a visit to Roe Green school. 'Mentally Healthy Schools' is a free and easy to use website for schools, drawing together reliable and practical resources to improve awareness, knowledge and confidence in promoting and supporting pupils’ mental health. The website is now live and can be viewed here.

During a speech, Kate set out her ambition to support efforts to give every child the best possible start in life.

The full text:

'As I look around the room, I see friends from many different sectors: friends who have shared with me their knowledge, and who have answered my questions patiently whilst I’ve interrogated them in my endeavour to learn about this complex range of issues.
Academic colleagues who have shown me their ground-breaking research into the causes of perinatal and post-natal depression, and how they are addressing these in the clinic; Those who I have visited over the years who provide crucial links within the community, and whose services help families with essential parenting support and guidance; and other wonderful organisations which have done so much to improve support for the emotional wellbeing of children in schools.
I could name so many of you, but I'm utterly grateful to you all for giving your time and wisdom so freely. We all know how important childhood is; and how the early years shape us for life. We also know how negative the downstream impact can be, if problems emerging at the youngest age are overlooked, or ignored. It is therefore vital that we nurture children through this critical, early period.
But as we've heard, at what stage in a child’s development could we, or should we, intervene, to break the inter-generational cycle of disadvantage? The more I have heard, the more I am convinced that the answer has to be: 'early' and ' 'the earlier, the better'. In fact, it would seem that we cannot intervene early enough.
We do need mental health support in primary schools before the biological changes and academic pressures of adolescence kick in. We also need a focus on parenting and family support, so that parents feel able to get their children ‘school ready’, and are confident that they themselves can cope with the mental and emotional needs of their own children.
We need to highlight how important it is to support mothers too, potentially before they even give birth. They need to be aware how vulnerable they might be and, critically, know where they can find help for themselves, as well as for their babies and toddlers.
But potentially we could start to look even earlier, by teaching parenting and relationship skills to teenagers, to get the next generation of parents child-ready, well before they have to put these skills into practice. After listening to those working in this complex area, my own view is that children’s experiences in their early years are fundamental. They lay the foundations not only for healthy outcomes during the teenage years, but also for adulthood.
Addressing the issues only when they take root, later in life, results in huge detriment; detriment to the healthcare, education and social support systems in our country; but, perhaps more importantly, detriment to future generations over the long term.
In 2011, Graham Allen, who is with is here today, wrote a report for Government on the need for early intervention. I hope, Graham, you don’t mind me quoting from your report, in which you referred to the cycle of deprivation and dysfunction, from generation to generation. There, you said that, “If we intervene early enough, we can give children a vital social and emotional foundation, which will help to keep them happy, healthy and achieving throughout their lives and, above all, equip them to raise children of their own.”
 I could not agree more.
Because these are ‘lifetime’ issues, they require a very long term perspective. But the issues are also complex and multi-sided, so they need integrated, collective approaches to create real impact. This is what I am so keen to explore.
We are here today because we all believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life.
I have therefore entrusted the Royal Foundation, under the leadership of Aida Cable, to gather a group of experts to develop the thinking in this critical area: experts and partners to build upon existing work, and to look at developing sustainable solutions which will help deliver our shared ambitions.
Providing children in their earliest years with social and emotional security builds strong foundations which last a lifetime. I really do feel so passionately about the importance of early intervention, and that by working on new approaches together, we can make a real difference for generations to come.'

The Duchess's longer term aim is to create a partnership between experts and organisations in order to build strong collaboration, and to raise awareness of issues like perinatal, maternal and infant mental health, and the need for parenting support and advice, as well as resources for schools and educators. Kate is establishing a steering group to explore how best to support academics, practitioners and charities in their work to provide all children with the best possible start in life.The steering group will work in the months ahead and report back to the Duchess on options for long-term collaboration. The questions include

  • How can we highlight the importance of early intervention, as evidenced by academic research, for the benefit of all children, parents and schools?
  • What is the best model to encourage further collaboration between academics, charities and funders working in these areas?
  •  How can mind-sets be changed so that parents and caregivers prioritise their own mental health and that of their children as much as they do their physical health? What is the role for awareness raising activities?
  • How can existing initiatives be scaled to provide long-term and multi-generational support to children, their parents and educators?

The steering group will report back to the Duchess later this year and it is expected that the Royal Foundation's strategy for collaborative action on these issues will be announced in late autumn 2018 / early 2019.

The Telegraph reports:

'Professor Peter Fonagy, chief executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, described the Duchess as the person "who has done more to turn the tide of stigma around mental health more than any other single individual that I could name."

I thought the speech was very well-rounded, drawing on Kate's research in the area and outlining her hopes for the future. It's wonderful to hear news of the plan. Kate has been deeply interested and passionate about early intervention for years. Bringing the Royal Foundation into the mix to research collaborative opportunities is a terrific idea. I'm looking forward to hearing more later this year.

Kate looked radiant in a bespoke mint green Jenny Packham coatdress with bow detail at the collar and a matching dress. It's a great look for Spring!

A closer look at the details of the coatdress.

Kate wore her lower heeled praline Gianvito Rossi 85 pumps.

Kate carried her $275 Loeffler Randall 'Tab' clutch. The bag is handcrafted from lizard-effect leather in a soft blush hue. "Perfect for day or night, this design opens to a surprisingly spacious twill-lined interior complete with a zipped pocket for smaller items." It's available in several colours at ShopBop.

Loeffler Randall

Kate accessorised with her Kiki McDonough green amethyst and diamond cushion cut earrings.

Kiki McDonough

As several of you noted, Kate's hair was a darker shade of brown today.

We'll see you tomorrow when William and Kate undertake engagements celebrating the Commonwealth. They will meet athletes supported by SportsAid, some of whom aim to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and help to prepare a Commonwealth Big Lunch at St Luke's Trust.

Kate's Favourites