I have some ideas for what we should call the Duchess of Cambridge’s whirlwind promotional tour for her five-question Early Years survey. We should call it The Keen Survey Tour! Or maybe the Eight Years/Five Questions tour. Because yes, she still wants us to believe that she’s been toiling away for eight years on this extensive body of work, which amounted to… a very simple and nonsensical five-question survey. Anyway, Kate’s last appearance on the Keen Survey Tour was at a women’s prison in Surrey. Kate previously visited the same women’s prison in 2015 as part of a sister-program with her patronage Action on Addiction. I said at the time that it was great to see Kate do an event that wasn’t so “soft” and apolitical. Kate spent time, in 2015, talking to the inmates about addiction and their families. She did the same thing during this visit too:
Kate Middleton‘s new mission centers around children under the age of 5 — and the last stop on her 24-hour tour of the U.K. showed the impact early years can have on a person’s life. The royal mom headed to the women’s prison HMP Send in Surrey, England, on Wednesday to reconnect with former and current inmates she previously met during a 2015 visit. She learned how some of the women are rebuilding their lives and families after being successfully rehabilitated and released.
Palace insiders say that Kate’s mission to help women and children in the early years had been partly inspired by a previous visit to Send in 2015. It and other experiences have contributed to her view that adults with problems can normally trace them back to childhood and often pass them on to their own children. Kate heard about the work done by the Forward Trust to support clients in improving their relationships with friends and families, including reuniting with children. She also spoke to women currently at the prison.
“It really shocked me when I came here last time how early the challenges were that you faced,” Kate told a group of former inmates, including three women she met in 2015 when they were serving sentences. “How early you could take it back.”
In the prison visits hall, sitting around a coffee table with mugs of tea and a cake, she talked to five ex-offenders about their childhood traumas — problems with alcoholic or absent parents, family breakdown, domestic abuse — and how they believed it had triggered their offending. She also had conversations with four women currently serving sentences at the prison who told her stories about parents separating, drink and drug addiction.
One current prisoner, Francesca, told Kate that she got on drugs and started offending after her parents split up. At Send, with the Forward Trust program, she has started to resolve many of her issues going back to childhood. “What they have done here has literally changed my life. It’s a miracle,” Francesca said. She added: “Coming to jail is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”
The royal mom said, “It’s so often I hear that. Why does it have to get to that point before people receive the help and support?”
She told the women: “I’m hugely passionate about trying to really help get into this crisis trying to help provide that prevention mechanism and that support system in our communities. Particularly that support in the early years of life.”
It was so nearly something, you know? All of that time and money and unlimited resources and unlimited access to the best scholars and advocates and research in the world. Think about what Kate could have done. Think about how powerful it would have been to actually put everything together in a comprehensive way, to talk about addiction and modern parenting and early childhood development and where resources could and should be deployed. Instead, we got a five-question survey and Kate saying vague words about how she’s keen to try to do something, maybe.
I also continue to take issue with the undercurrent of Kate’s nebulous thesis, which seems to be that kids who grow up in a crappy, poor family will turn out to be crappy people with tons of problems and kids who grow up in stable, happy, wealthy families will turn out fine. There is more nuance to the conversation and she hasn’t really found it? Maybe that’s what the survey is for, I guess.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Backgrid.