The Duchess of Cambridge began a two-day solo visit to Denmark today, as she learnt more about the country’s approach to Early Years and how these world-leading systems might be applied to the UK. She also revealed her broody side appears as she continues to work with young children…!
Kate’s flight arrived a little late into Copenhagen, and from there she was taken to the city centre where she was welcomed by the British Ambassador to Denmark.
The day began at the University of Copenhagen to meet researchers from the Copenhagen Infant Mental Health Project which aims to promote the mental wellbeing of, and relationships between, children and their parents.
Catherine, 40, launched her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood back in June, aiming to increase awareness of the ‘extraordinary impact’ of the first few years of life, and to ‘transform society for generations to come’.
The future Queen spoke to health visitors about the ‘Understanding Your Baby Project’. The scheme is an educational programme developed following the implementation of the Alarm Distress Baby Scale screening tool, which is used nationally to help health visitors to identify infants who are at risk of adverse social and emotional development.
Alongside the screening tool, academics have launched the Understanding Your Baby research project, which provides further training for health visitors so they can help new parents notice and interpret their babies’ behavioural cues.
Told how even well-educated mothers and fathers can struggle with feeling ‘insecure’ about their parenting, she commented: “(There is) the expectation that maybe they should know already.
“Whereas some of the more disadvantaged families probably have different challenges.”
Catherine commented that some ‘milestones’ in a baby’s development were favoured over others: “There is a lot of talk about feeding and nutrition and physical milestones, but less on the emotional and social milestones.”
This was not Catherine’s first visit to Denmark; in 2011, not long after their wedding, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the UNICEF emergency supply centre in Copenhagen with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary (the latter of whom will also make an appearance during this visit) as the famine in eastern Africa worsened.
Parents Nikolene and Nicolai Gudomlund explained to the Royal that they became ‘completely panicked’ by their son, now four, who was not making eye contact by the time he was a few months old.
“There is so much joy and happiness associated with having a newborn baby but actually people don’t necessarily talk about the worry or the anxiety that comes with having a newborn,” Catherine said, “and particularly if you are noticing things with your own child that you feel you are worried about, and things.”
Next came a stop at the Children’s Museum in the capital, where the Duchess met a few of the 1,300 first-time parents benefiting from the project, begun in 2019 and ending in July, which involves more than 200 health workers.
It was here that the Duchess revealed her nesting tendencies; she confessed she felt broody and joked that her husband, Prince William, worries about her working with babies because she returns home wanting ‘another one’.
At an engagement in January when Kate was handed a baby to hold in Lancashire, the Duke did joke with those around him that they shouldn’t coo as it encouraged his wife!
At the Lego Foundation’s Play Lab, Catherine rediscovered her inner child, choosing to take the slide instead of the stairs! Handing her handbag to a member of her team, the Duchess came speeding out of the slide in her heels, and managed to smoothly stand up from her landing.
“You stood far enough away!” she giggled, before adding she ‘had to do that’ in the spirit of the location.
She was there to meet a team leading a national programme training students to help children use play to develop skills for life.
Kate confessed that her own children were jealous that she was visiting Lego. “My children are very jealous they weren’t coming to see the Lego Foundation. They were like, ‘hang on, there’s Lego and we’re not coming?’” she explained.
— Nick Dixon (@NickDixonITV) February 22, 2022
The Royal, when building some Lego kit herself, revealed the family had spent time building with the blocks last week, during half-term. “I spent this weekend trying to build a water-filled construction and trying to find all the green bits. I was like, ‘this is good training’,” she said.
Sofie Norgard Jensen, 23, a student who is half-way through her three-and-a-half years training, spent time with the Duchess in the Play Lab showing her their work. She commented: “It was overwhelming to meet her, she was very kind to be so interested and it was very cool to get to show off what we are doing here.”
Tomorrow with see Kate meet with both Queen Margrethe and Crown Princess Mary as she wraps up the visit.