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The Princess of Wales is expected to launch a national campaign later this month focused on her decade-long passion for early years development

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Kate, Princess of Wales has long championed the idea that the first five years of a child's life have a big impact on their future chances.

Yesterday, Princess Catherine visited Foxcubs nursery in Luton, which has a focus on learning through play and supports children's long-term social and emotional development.

Speaking to parents in the nursery, Her Royal Highness said: "These are vital skills that are going to take them [children] into the next phase of education and also into their later adult lives".

The Princess of Wales during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton, as part of her ongoing work to elevate the importance of early childhood to lifelong outcomes. Picture date: Wednesday January 18, 2023.
The Princess of Wales during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton, as part of her ongoing work to elevate the importance of early childhood to lifelong outcomes. Picture date: Wednesday January 18, 2023.

Nearly five and a half thousand early years providers have closed their doors in the last twelve months, according to the Early Years Alliance.

Neil Leitch OBE, Chief Executive of the Early Years Alliance, believes funding for early years isn't seen as important as primary or secondary education.

He said: "We've been through a pandemic where many children were starved of play, starved of sharing.

"It's not surprising that we have child development issues.

"This is what the early years are about. It's not just care. It's about educating children.

"We wouldn't accept that for a five-year-old, we wouldn't accept that for a ten-year-old, somehow, we're accepting it for a three and a four-year-old, so parents are struggling."

Early years staff fear lockdown had a detrimental impact on young children's development, and they're now having to deal with the effects in nursery.

Foxcub's acting manager, Safia Ali, spoke to the Princess about the issue and told GB News: "Things that came up in the conversation were about the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown on children.

The Princess of Wales interacts with children playing in a sandpit during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton, as part of her ongoing work to elevate the importance of early childhood to lifelong outcomes. Picture date: Wednesday January 18, 2023.
The Princess of Wales interacts with children playing in a sandpit during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton, as part of her ongoing work to elevate the importance of early childhood to lifelong outcomes. Picture date: Wednesday January 18, 2023.

"All the people that she spoke to, pretty much, said the same thing.

"The social and emotional side of things and the communication development. The delay that it's had on children."

The Princess of Wales launched The Royal Foundation for Early Childhood in 2021, which works to "raise awareness of and promote collaborative action on early childhood to transform society for generations to come."

Last year, Her Royal Highness visited Denmark, a country widely recognised as a world leader in its approach and investment in early childhood development, to see first-hand how they support the youngest members of society.