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It’s LK Bennett for Royal Foundation Early Childhood Centre Launch

The Duchess of Cambridge wore LK Bennett for engagements tied to today’s launch of the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, a landmark initiative to effect generational change.

The big news about the endeavor was released last night. More from Valentine Low’s story in The Times of London

The Duchess of Cambridge is setting up a research centre for early childhood development in an effort to put the issue on the same level as climate change.

The centre, which will commission original research and be based at Kensington Palace, is the culmination of ten years’ work by the duchess looking into the roots of some of Britain’s most pressing social problems.

There is also a new site associated with the undertaking. 

A Kensington Palace news release notes, “For over ten years, The Duchess of Cambridge has seen first-hand how some of today’s hardest social challenges – from addiction and violence to family breakdown and homelessness, so often underpinned by poor mental health – have their roots in the earliest years of life.”  A video with the origins of Kate’s involvement was released on social media by Kensington Palace. 

The new center will focus on three key areas: research, developing new solutions with public and private voluntary sectors, and campaigns to raise awareness.

The center’s inaugural report, “Big Change Starts Small,” was also released today, a collaboration with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the London School of Economics.

The Duchess wrote the foreword to the report.

From that foreword:  

Our first five years lay important foundations for our future selves. This period is when we first learn to manage our emotions and impulses, to care and to empathise, and thus ultimately to establish healthy relationships with ourselves and others.

“It is a time when our experience of the world around us, and the way that moulds our development, can have a lifelong impact on our future mental and physical wellbeing. Indeed, what shapes our childhood shapes the adults and the parents we become.”

We return to The Times of London story: 

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood will start with about half a dozen staff and be funded by the duke and duchess’s Royal Foundation.

As well as promoting and commissioning research, it will work with academics, charities and other bodies to “collaborate on new solutions”. It will also develop “creative campaigns to raise awareness and inspire action, driving real, positive change on the early years”.

Today’s first engagement was at the London School of Economics. 

The Duchess was there for a roundtable discussion on the center’s inaugural report mentioned above.

You can see her carrying a copy of the report as she headed to the discussion. 

From the report’s conclusion:

“The time for action is now. The pandemic has provided a moment for reflection on the society that we can be. With a greater focus on early childhood, we have the opportunity to build a happier society and one that is mentally and physically healthier. Nobody can pretend that this will be an ‘easy fix’. Identifying where to target preventative and early intervention work can in practice be hard. However, thanks to a huge and growing body of research from across disciplines, we know a great deal more now than at any point in the past about how to make a positive difference.”

Victoria Ward reports in The Telegraph there were “representatives from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, Mind, Place2Be, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Future Men” taking part in the discussion. 


More from Victoria Ward’s Daily Telegraph story

The Duchess, 39, expressed a hope that her new Centre for Early Childhood could help to make it “more common to speak about emotions and feelings” which would in turn enable adults to understand how affection affects their own behaviour.

“My hope today, through the report and through this new centre, is to show that change really needs to happen, and the time for action is now,” the Duchess said.

“Because I feel that this is the social equivalent of climate change, where we followed the science for many, many years.

“Because I feel that this is the social equivalent of climate change, where we followed the science for many, many years.The Duchess, wearing a lilac LK Bennett dress, said that as a parent and during pregnancy, there were “many conversations” about physical milestones but little support or guidance beyond “what you can see” – such as the importance of brain development.

The report estimates the cost of not taking preventative action in early childhood in England is 16+ billion pounds, as society pays for remedial measures, like long-term mental health issues.

The report highlights six areas where there is an opportunity to make a difference:

  1. Raising awareness of the extraordinary impact of the early years
  2. Building a mentally healthier and more nurturing society
  3. Creating communities of support
  4. Strengthening the early years workforce
  5. Putting the data to work for early years
  6. Supporting long-term and inter-generational change

On social media, Kensington Palace posted that “It was great to speak with leading academics and practitioners at the London School of Economics about The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood’s mission to drive awareness of, and action on, the transformative impact of the early years.”

The second engagement was at Kensington Palace. 

The Duchess joined “a group of parents who she has met during the past decade, and who have helped to shape her understanding of the importance of providing support for parents during the earliest years of children’s lives,” per Kensington Palace.

The get-together was at the Kensington Palace café.

More from this Hola! story by Shirley Gomez:  

“The Duchess doesn’t just ask how my daughter is but also how I am. She understands that to look after the children, we also have to look after the parents,” said Ryan-James Smith, a 28-year-old single father, and barman.

A quick video from Kensington Palace. 

We return to Simon’s article for People

Taking place in the café at Kensington Palace, the chat was a poignant reminder of the people she is trying to help: Parents and caretakers, and their young children. Some of those she met were those she has encountered in various engagements as she has crisscrossed the U.K. talking with people about some of the challenges they face.

Another view. 

Now for our look at what Kate wore today and in the other appearances associated with the big news.

Today the Duchess was in an LK Bennett dress. The ‘Dee’ Crepe Shift Dress is made of the retailer’s stretch crepe, a blend of 62% Polyester/33% Viscose/3% Elastane. 

The fitted dress features a sweetheart neckline, puffed sleeves, and a pencil skirt with a back vent.  It is available in limited sizes at LK Bennett ($370) and in larger sizes at Jarrold (£225, no shipping to the US).  The dress is from the brand’s collaborative collection with Royal Ascot

The Duchess also wore her Gianvito Rossi 105 pumps in the praline colorway. 

Kate’s hair was down. 

She brought back her Stilla Lapis Lazuli Pendant Necklace ($220) from Astley Clarke, as well as her Spells of Love Double Strand Beaded Chain Necklace (£85, about $120).

And her Halcyon Days Maya Torque Aquamarine Bracelet ($150).

I believe she was wearing the adult reusable cotton face mask by Amaia Kids, the Duchess Mask in Pink Eloise (£15).

For those asking about the umbrella, the closest match I can find is this Large Rainbow Umbrella ($19.99) at Mountain Warehouse, but I don’t believe it is identical. The colors look different to me.  Walmart offers a similar style ($18.53).

In the video announcing the creation of the center, the Duchess is dressed casually.

It looks like she is wearing the Lauren Ralph Lauren Cotton-Blend Puff Sleeve Top, first noted in September 2020 at a Battersea Park meetup with parents.   

Kate also wears the Freya Rose Mini Hoops with Detachable Pearls shown below when worn to another engagement.

And her Daniella Draper Trio Diamond Midnight Moon Necklace personalized with George, Charlotte, and Louis’s initials, also shown when worn to a previous event. 

The photo with her foreword to the report shows the Duchess in a piece that very much looks like the Alexander McQueen dress worn last week when the Duchess joined First Lady Jill Biden for a visit to Connor Downs Academy preschool in Cornwall.


The Royal Family Channel has 3 minutes of coverage from today’s engagements. 

This video from Kensington Palace includes some of the Duchess’s remarks at the roundtable discussion. 



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Mary H

Tuesday 6th of July 2021

Gorgeous color and silhouette. A near-perfect outfit for this occasion, except for the height of her heels - too much for a day event.


Thursday 1st of July 2021

This is one of the best looks Kate has had in YEARS. Flattering and professional, and with all the elements of what attracted me to her style all those years ago. Totally refreshing after those dreadful aging midi dresses.


Thursday 1st of July 2021

This look is really great - as others have said, it is a bit throwback. Though, personally, I miss the Sledge pumps. They looked comfortable whereas the shoes she is wearing does not. And I see suede in the rain. Yikes!

I am curious as to why she does not have a hand bag. It does ensure that her brochure is a focus point of the photo, but I wonder how she can leave the house with out her cell phone. Is it scary or liberating for here? You know, we never see her with one. Does she not want to LOL with Prince William or get heart emojis from her mom on big occasions :). Not really a fashion question, but it kind of is.


Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Wow…knocked it out of the park!

I think if I were designing a “Duchess Barbie” this whole look would be it. (I mean this playfully, not in a disparaging way) Kate oozes sophistication and confidence in this.

I echo others’ thoughts that this is “Classic Kate” and among our favorite silhouettes of “early Duchess”

I loved the idea of a “shift dress” post - definitely a modern look for a working Duchess. I mean, I do love a ‘fit & flare’ and all its femininity, but the shift dresses do lend a sophisticated professionalism.

Either way…I’m here for all of the styles! So we can talk about it here :-)


Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

This is such a great look for Catherine. The color suits her well and the dress is very pretty. I like the pairing with the shoes. I'm personally not a fan of sweetheart necklines because they remind me so much of early 90's wedding dresses but she pulls it off well. She looks refreshed and excited to be a part of this project. A+!

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