According to Professor Peter Fonagy, the Chief Executive of Anna Freud, and a member of the advisory committee at the Centre for Early Childhood, working with the Princess of Wales is a delightful experience. He mentioned in an interview with HELLO! that he doesn't know anyone who doesn't enjoy working with her. Professor Fonagy shared a fond memory of an interaction with the Princess at an engagement, where she displayed her keen observation skills. When a child asked her which sports team she supported, she paused for a moment before replying, “Chelsea,” a response that seemed to resonate with the child, who was wearing Chelsea team colors.
In addition to her observational abilities, Professor Fonagy described the Princess as a brilliant communicator who genuinely engages with everyone she encounters during her public visits. He likened her interpersonal skills to those of a clinical psychologist, noting that her interest in people is unwavering and focused, making individuals feel genuinely valued. Furthermore, he praised her creativity, which he believes is a talent she carries over from her previous training.
In January, Kate launched the Shaping Us campaign, which aims to emphasize the significance of providing assistance to young children and those responsible for their well-being, with a particular focus on mental health. This initiative, referred to as her “life's work,” has been in development for several years.
Kate's involvement with Anna Freud dates back to her first visit in 2015, and she officially became the charity's patron in early 2016. During that year, along with Prince William and Prince Harry, she played a key role in leading the Heads Together campaign, a collaboration between The Royal Foundation and Anna Freud.
According to Professor Fonagy, he had the impression that among the individuals in leadership roles at that time, she was the one who truly comprehended the concept of mental health. She not only understood the importance of mental health but also demonstrated a clear understanding of the significance of focusing on the age group from 0 to 5 and supporting early parenting. This emphasis on early childhood is deemed as crucial as any other approach in promoting preventative measures for children's mental health.
Therefore, I believe that this is a domain where her concern for mental health, her promotion of mental well-being, and her focus on early childhood converged. A part of her aspiration to enhance societies is also directed towards fostering a healthier society with a focus on well-being, essentially working to prevent mental health issues.
At the beginning of this year, the Princess convened a meeting with a group of eight experts representing various fields, including academia, science, and the early years sector. This meeting aimed to offer guidance and support for her efforts at the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, with Professor Fonagy among the participants.
He found it fascinating that she continually generates fresh ideas and innovative approaches, while also emphasizing vital aspects of child development drawn from her reading, observations, and conversations. Professor Fonagy noted her particular interest in understanding how diverse cultures raise their children in distinct yet equally effective ways. He believes she possesses the capability to advocate for a diversified approach to childcare, moving away from a one-size-fits-all model. Surrounded by a team of experts, the Princess actively listens to their input as well.