The Princess of Wales has shared a new photo of herself as a baby and urged others to do the same, as part of her newly launched early years campaign.
Shaping Us, about the importance of early childhood and the impact it can have on later life, has been described as the princess’s “life’s work”.
On Saturday, Catherine tweeted a photo of her as a baby with her father.
She said baby photos encouraged people to talk about childhood and prompted “smiles and memories too”.
Catherine, mother to three young children, shared the image of herself reaching out to touch her father Michael Middleton’s face, alongside the caption: “Faces are a baby’s best toy.”
“This weekend, we’d love for you all to spend time with your friends, families, colleagues and communities talking about your early childhoods and how they’ve shaped your lives,” the princess wrote, in a series of tweets.
“I hope you’ll also consider joining me in sharing a picture of yourselves before your fifth birthday to help with those conversations and to share some smiles and memories too.”
The early years initiative aims to increase public awareness of the significance of the first five years of life, in terms of the future physical and mental well-being of adults.
Royal sources say the Princess of Wales had been struck, while carrying out royal duties, by how often people’s difficulties in areas such as mental health and addiction had their origins in their early years. This led to her decision to champion the importance of a happy and healthy start in life.
Launching the campaign earlier this week, she wrote in an open letter that not enough attention is paid to how children’s first five years profoundly shape “the adults we become” and that she is determined to change that.
“It’s like building a house – without strong foundations, without this sort of solid start in life, then those building blocks are much harder to build later on in life,” she told radio presenter Roman Kemp, in a video recorded last month and posted on YouTube.
“The importance of having healthy and strong relationships in a child’s life is really critical” she said, adding that “raising children today is tough… [but] love goes a long way”.
Members of the public and celebrities shared their baby images in response to the princess’s message – with many people praising the initiative and commenting on how alike Prince Louis is to the young Catherine.
Presenters Fearne Cotton and Zoe Ball, chef Jamie Oliver and footballer Harry Kane were among those who posted a picture of themselves, capturing them in their early youth.
“Possibly the age I started to cultivate my own style and love of clothes and definitely the age I started to get super passionate about art and creativity,” wrote Cotton, who has been a prominent backer of the Shaping Us campaign.
Radio 2 DJ Ball shared an image of herself with her dad, presenter Johnny Ball, saying: “My Dad was, and still is a great storyteller and bedtime stories with him were often my favourite part of the day.”
And alongside a picture of himself in roller skates, Oliver wrote that he counted himself lucky for his happy childhood “growing up in his mum & dad’s pub”.
How cute does 5 yr old Jamie look in his cords & roller skates? He counts himself lucky for having a happy childhood, growing up in his mum & dad’s pub. He knows those @Earlychildhood years are so important #ShapingUs— Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) February 4, 2023
Find out more: https://t.co/R71pMorFsx pic.twitter.com/Q0Ln8H4znu
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