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Kate Middleton braves the rain in London as she marks work milestone – best photos

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has launched

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Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
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It was a milestone day for the Duchess of Cambridge as she launched her new project, The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, on Friday. Kate stepped out for two engagements to mark the opening of the centre, first visiting the London School of Economics to meet experts for a roundtable discussion, and then catching up with fellow parents at Kensington Palace.

Despite the dreary weather, Kate didn't let the rain and wind dampen her spirits as she was pictured smiling as she arrived at LSE. The Duchess also opted for a gorgeous summery look, wowing in a pastel purple dress by L. K. Bennett that featured on-trend puff sleeves.

Prince William's wife kicked off the engagement by taking her seat at the table and thanking the leading academics and practitioners for joining her. The group discussed the Centre's inaugural report, Big Change Starts Small, which was released earlier on Friday.

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A closer look at the Duchess' stylish businesswear. The mother-of-three accessorised with a floral face mask and was pictured clutching on to a copy of her Centre's report.

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She sported the 'Dee' dress from L.K.Bennett's Ascot collection, which retails for £225, and completed her look with her Astley Clarke Lapis Lazuli necklace and Halcyon Days bangle.

Kate sweetly wore another piece from Princess Diana's jewellery collection - her stunning sapphire and diamond earrings.

kate middleton sitting roundtable© Photo: Getty Images

Kate's aim is to create a happier, healthier and more nurturing society, and during the meeting, the group discussed the importance of early childhood.

The Big Change Starts Small report, which has been written in collaboration with LSE and The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, highlights the critical impact of the early years on individuals.

It also sets out recommendations on how all aspects of society can contribute positively and make a difference on this issue.

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Speaking during the roundtable discussion at the London School of Economics, Kate said was "really excited" to launch the centre.

She said: "So my hope today, through the report and through this new centre, to show that change really needs to happen, and the time for action is now. Because I feel that this is the social equivalent of climate change, where we followed the science for many, many years.

"And that is what we have to do with early childhood development if we want to build a happier, healthier world. The more we learn about early childhood and the first five years of life the greater imperative it is to act." 

kate middleton talking lse© Photo: Getty Images

For over a decade, the Duchess has seen first-hand how some of today's hardest social challenges – from violence and addiction to family breakdown and homelessness – have their roots in the earliest years of life. Kate is therefore committed to elevating the importance of early childhood and continuing the conversation on this vital issue.

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Her Centre will focus on three aspects – commission high-quality research; work with people from across the private, public and voluntary sectors to collaborate on new solutions; and develop creative campaigns to raise awareness about the early years.

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kate middleton rainbow umbrella© Photo: Getty Images

Kate's second engagement took her back to Kensington Palace, where she joined a group of parents who she has met during the past decade, who have helped to shape her understanding of the importance of providing support for parents during the earliest years of children's lives.

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Kate lit up her surroundings as she arrived with a rainbow-coloured umbrella.

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The damp weather didn't stop Kate from enjoying her day of engagements in London.

kate middleton tea kensington palace© Photo: Getty Images

The group spoke about their experience as parents, while Kate also shared her hopes for what the Centre will be able to achieve for future generations. She also highlighted the vital role that parents and carers will play in her work on early childhood.

kate middleton tea set© Photo: Getty Images

The meeting, which took place at the Pavilion Cafe of Kensington Palace, saw the Duchess ask the parents for feedback and whether they had any thoughts about what the Centre should be doing.

kate middleton chatting women© Photo: Getty Images

Kate spoke with Julie Muir, who has met the Duchess twice before at 2015 and 2020 at women's prison, HMP Send.

The royal revealed that hearing the women's stories in prison partly inspired her to launch the Centre. "It was these conversations that made me realise how important this was," Kate told Julie, who was in prison as a young woman for drug-related offences but is now Head of Recovery and Housing for The Forward Trust, which runs programmes in prisons surrounding addiction.

Kate also spoke to Jumaima Koroma, who met the Duchess during a September 2019 visit to the family nurse partnership team in Southwark.

kate middleton chatting single dad© Photo: Getty Images

Ryan-James Smith, a 28-year-old single father and barman from Luton who took part in the Tiny Happy People initiative with the BBC, also joined the meeting. 

Ryan-James spoke about his battle with depression, later saying: "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."

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