The Princess of Wales was ready for action as she arrived at Maidenhead Rugby Club in her sports gear this morning and got stuck into drills with ex-England star Danny Care.
Sporty Kate, 41, looked athletic in a turquoise England rugby t-shirt and and smart navy trousers from Sweaty Betty, paired with brilliant white Lululemon trainers, as she arrived at the ground, where she is due to continue work on her early years crusade – as new data shows an increased awareness of early years development since she championed the cause.
The mother-of-three who is known for her love of activity has been patron of the Rugby Football Union since 2020, when she took over the role from her brother-in-law Prince Harry after he stepped down as a senior royal in 2020.
Arriving at the club this morning as the sun beat down on her, Kate looked primed but ready to get started with the activities, with her brunette locks tied into a sleep ponytail. She accessorised with a pair of simple gold ‘huggie’ earrings from Orelia.
And she combined her love of sport with early years development as she was eager to join the players on the pitch, before she sits down for some important discussions later on as part of her Shaping Us campaign.
The most graceful rugby player ever? Kate looked ballerina-like as she got stuck in with exercise drills on the pitch at Maidenhead Rugby Club this afternoon
Kate’s visit comes as the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has released statistics showing an increased awareness of the importance of early years development over the last year – but there is still plenty of work to do.
A public perception survey commissioned by the Foundation and conducted by Ipsos UK showed that, last year, 17% of people identified the period between pregnancy and the age of five as a crucial time for shaping a child’s future.
However this year, that proportion has risen by 2% to 19% overall.
Despite an overall increase in awareness, the data also showed that it was mostly women who identified the age range as important in shaping a child’s future, at 24% – compared to just 14% of men.
The Princess got stuck into training with former England ace Danny Care and looked in her element
The Princess looked right at home as she got stuck in with rugby training this afternoon at Maidenhead Rugby Club
Great catch! Princess Kate demonstrated her incredibly fast reactions as she carried out the drills
Preparing for a drop kick? Kate looked ready to take a penalty as she held the ball down below her waist
Kate had to reach high and almost jumped off the ground to catch the ball as it was thrown to her
Despite running around the pitch in the beaming sunshine, barely a hair was out of place on Kate’s head
Kate showed her impressive agility as she darted around the pitch to catch the ball during rugby drills
Primed and ready! The mother-of-three and rugby fan was in her element and had quick reactions during the drills
The Princess, who is patron of the Rugby Football Union, looked elegant yet ready to be put through her paces
Kate opted for a tight ponytail, which was necessary to keep her hair away from her face as she darted around the pitch
The Princess looked thrilled to be out in the sunshine as she beamed while on the pitch, awaiting her next drills
Kate’s brilliant white trainers soon got covered in grass as she got stuck into rugby training with the players
The graceful princess looked more ballerina than rugby player as she leapt through the air with sharp precision
The concentration on the princess’s face was immeasurable as she reached out to catch the ball
Mother-of-three Kate, who is known for her love of sport, couldn’t stop smiling as she took part in the drills
Upon arrival today the Princess greeted former England player Ugo Monye with a warm smile as she exclaimed: ‘Hello! Lovely to see you’ and held out her hand to shake his.
The rugby star, who is a father and has championed the Shaping Us campaign, asked the Princess how she was, to which Kate replied: ‘Very good, thank you.’
She continued: ‘Thanks so much for joining in.’
Kate added she was looking forward to having some ‘good chats’ throughout the day with male players about fatherhood and how sports clubs can improve children’s early years development.
But first, she took on ex-England star Danny Care in rugby drills on the pitch, where she leapt through the air with precision to catch the ball and showed her impressive agility as she darted across the green.
Her visit to the club follows a trip to Windsor Family Hub on Tuesday, where she met with parents and children who were supported by the centre in terms of resources, education and mental health assistance.
Kate will also be chatting to local and professional rugby players about their childhood experiences, and how they shaped the successful athletes they are today.
The mother-of-three was ready for action with her sleek yet practical sports look and her hair pinned back into a tight ponytail
Getting stuck in! The Princess of Wales donned her sports gear as she arrived at Maidenhead Rugby Club this afternoon
As she strolled along with Ugo Monye, the Princess flashed her brilliant white Lululemon trainers
The Princess looked in her element as she chatted to Ugo Monye upon arrival at Maidenhead Rugby Club
Kate chatted with former England player Monye, who has been a keen champion of the Shaping Us campaign
The Princess looked in her element as she chatted to Ugo Monye upon arrival at Maidenhead Rugby Club
Additionally, she’ll be chatting to the male players about fatherhood, as well as how local resources like sports clubs can enhance children’s childhood experiences.
In particular, Kate will focus on the ways in which the clubs can create a sense of community and a support network in the lives of young people.
During her visit, the Princess will also team with Ugo Monye, former England rugby star and father-of-two who has championed the Shaping Us campaign, and his former teammate Danny Care.
Si Trove, the founder of mental healthy charity Brave Mind, is also present at the club today.
His charity works with rugby clubs, universities and schools to provide a national platform to help rugby clubs and schools to improve their approach to supporting mental health in their community.
Launched through the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in January 2023, the Shaping Us campaign aims to improve the early experiences of children in order to enhance their opportunities in later life.
Following today’s statistics, Christian Guy, director of the Foundation, said: ‘It is encouraging to see awareness levels of the critical importance of the first five years of our lives moving in the right direction – though there remains much more work to be done.
‘It is during our early childhood that our brains develop faster than at any other life stage and our experiences, relationships and surroundings at that very young age lay the foundations that shape the rest of our lives.
‘This has got to become an issue that they whole of society embraces – that is talked about in board rooms and sports clubs across the country and not just assumed to be the domain of parent and baby groups or nursery settings.
‘Everyone has a part to play in raising the next generation which is why conversations, such as those due to take place at Maidenhead Rugby Club today, are so important.’
Kate’s work on the campaign has taken her all around the country this year, even taking to the boardroom to bring businesses on board.
In March, she visited NatWest bank’s headquarters in the City of London where brought together some of the biggest firms in the UK – NatWest, Unilever, Aviva, Deloitte, IKEA, Co-op, The LEGO Group and Iceland – for a royal round-table worth billions.
Describing the early years as a ‘golden opportunity to transform our future life outcomes’, she told assembled leaders that it was time to think ‘radically’ in order to create a workforce that is ‘resilient, flexible and able to work through differences with each other’ because ‘the healthy development of our children relies on healthy adults’.
She said: ‘We need the ability and capacity to be self-aware enough to manage our own behaviours and actions, in order to build meaningful relationships with each other.
‘We need the ability to manage things like stress and conflict, to be adaptable to change and stay motivated when faced with challenges.
‘This comes from our social and emotional skills, the foundations of which are laid in childhood.’
The princess stressed that individual relationships and connections were ‘vital for collaboration and a core element to the culture and functionality of your businesses.’
The royal said that not enough emphasis was placed on building environments that nurture social and emotional skills.
That same month, her crusade took her to the frozen aisle of Iceland as she visited a branch of the supermarket giant in Aylesbury, Bucks, where she chatted to chairman Richard Walker.
During a conversation which was filmed for the Prince and Princess of Wales’s Instagram account, she discussed with Mr Walker how businesses can support children and their carers to help set the foundations for key employability skills ‘in the earliest years of our lives’.
In the clip, Kate tells Mr Walker: ‘You hear time and time again that these soft skills, you know, the creativity, the collaboration, the critical thinking, the flexibility, the resilience.
‘You know, these are things that you’d hear that businesses are looking for and it’s really interesting seeing how, actually, so often, the foundations for those skills are built in the earliest years of our lives.’
Mr Walker added: ‘Looking at the Shaping Us campaign and reading some of the science behind it, it really challenged my thinking and it made me think what more we can do, personally as a parent, but also actually as a business.’
A nodding, smiling Kate added: ‘That’s the thing, is that so many of your employees but also customers, their parents, their grandparents, we all know that it’s important to look after their wellbeing because those are the people that are raising children today.’