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Kate Middleton surprises children in Birmingham as she launches exciting new project

The Duchess of Cambridge has embarked on a 24-hour tour of the UK

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Cambridge has announced an exciting new project for her Early Years initiative, launching a landmark survey which gives people across the UK an opportunity to provide their views on raising the next generation. Kate, 38, surprised children during a visit to MiniBrum at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum on Tuesday, as she embarked on a 24-hour tour of the country. The Duchess will also visit London, Cardiff and Surrey on Wednesday.

Kate, wearing a green chevron-printed pussy-bow blouse by Tabitha Webb and wide-leg trousers, was given a tour of the interactive, child-sized mini-city by children from Henley Montessori School and St Paul's Nursery in Balsall Heath. There was a hilarious moment in the cafe when the door of a cupboard underneath a sink came off its hinges, prompting laughter. "I think we've broken the cafe," the Duchess laughed. She also spoke to parents and carers about the survey, including Giovanna Fletcher, whose podcast "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" is aimed at ensuring that new mothers do not feel alone. 

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Kate is shown around the mini-city at the museum

The Duchess said: "The Early Years are more crucial for future health and happiness than any other moment in our lifetime. I want to hear the key issues affecting our families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most."

The survey contains five short questions and aims to spark a national conversation on the early years that will ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come. Kensington Palace says it is designed to bring together the thoughts of as many people as possible – recognising that everyone has a role in ensuring strong, healthy foundations for the youngest in our society that will positively affect their lifelong outcomes. 

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Kate received a bouquet during her visit

The launch follows eight years of work by Kate, in which she has made early years one of her key focuses. Kensington Palace says the Duchess "has explored how experiences in early childhood often lie at the root of the hardest social challenges the country faces today." Over the years, the mum-of-three has spent time meeting with families across the country and hearing about the issues they deal with day-to-day, as well as convening a steering group of experts in May 2018, to focus on how to bring about lasting, positive change in this area of work.

The survey is being conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of The Royal Foundation and will run for a month, from 21 January to 21 February 2020. The online survey can be found here: www.5bigquestions.org.uk.

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