The Princess of Wales Visits the Center

On Friday, December 2, the Center on the Developing Child was honored to host a visit from the Princess of Wales, a committed champion of early childhood. For the last several years, the Center has provided support and council to the Royal Foundation on their early childhood work, including advising on the science-related aspects of a seminal report— “Big Change Starts Small” —that the Foundation released upon the launch of their Centre for Early Childhood in June of 2021.

During their meeting on Friday, Center faculty and staff discussed with Her Royal Highness the latest research on early childhood development and how science can inform the policy landscape and increase the impact of programs. The Center team shared emerging science related to “ECD 2.0,” particularly the interconnections between the brain and the body; the importance of connecting learning and health; and the ways the built and natural environments where children live, play, and learn—including closely related systemic and structural inequities—can profoundly impact their development.

Princess of Wales Catherine Middleton (left) and Jack P. Shonkoff are pictured upon her arrival. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child, said he was inspired by the Princess’s commitment to integrating the latest science with the lived experiences of children and families in the United Kingdom. Dr. Shonkoff described the visit as a “wonderful opportunity for shared learning as part of a global effort to improve life outcomes for young children.”

Amanda Berry, OBE, Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Foundation, said, “We are grateful to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child for hosting such a fascinating session and sharing their latest thinking with us. There is so much scope for further joint working here, given our missions are so aligned, and I look forward to even more collaboration between the two teams in future.”

The Center on the Developing Child shares in Ms. Berry’s sentiment, and we look forward to continued collaboration in the service of improving the lives of children and families facing adversity.

View more photos below.

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