The Princess of Wales likes to take a hands-on approach to her early childhood campaign – and today she proved she is ready for action as she arrived at Maidenhead Rugby Club in her sports gear and got stuck into drills.
Kate, 41, took a graceful pass from ex-England star Danny Care, looking athletic in a turquoise England rugby T-shirt, navy joggers from Sweaty Betty and brilliant white Lululemon trainers.
She was visiting the club as part of her work on her early years crusade, with new data showing an increased awareness of early years development since she became an advocate of the cause.
The mother-of-three, who is known for her love of exercise and activity, has been patron of the Rugby Football Union since 2020, when she took over the role from her brother-in-law Prince Harry after he stepped down as a senior royal.
Arriving at the club in the sunshine this morning, Kate was raring to go, with her hair tied into a sleek ponytail and simple gold earrings from Orelia.
She joined players on the pitch before sitting down for important discussions later in the day as part of her Shaping Us campaign, speaking to fathers in the community about how sports clubs can be a good support network for children.
The most graceful rugby player ever? Kate looked ballerina-like as she got stuck into exercise drills on the pitch at Maidenhead Rugby Club
Although the athletic princess got stuck into the activities, she had to be reminded during the drills that it was ‘walking only’ which led her to reply: ‘Sorry, sorry!’
It was harder work than it looked forcing herself not to run, she later said. But she was still able to leap athletically and even twirl as she caught the ball and threw it to her teammate Courtney Lawes, who later declared her a ‘very good’ player.
There was slight confusion afterwards as to whose team won: the yellows declared it their victory but Kate’s blues also claimed the honours.
Kate’s visit comes as the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has released statistics showing an increased awareness of the importance of early years development over the last year – but there is still plenty of work to do.
A public perception survey commissioned by the foundation and conducted by Ipsos UK showed that, last year, 17 per cent of people identified the period between pregnancy and the age of five as a crucial time for shaping a child’s future.
That proportion has this year risen by 2 per cent to 19 per cent overall.
Despite an overall increase in awareness, the data also showed that it was mostly women who identified the age range as important in shaping a child’s future, at 24 per cent – compared to just 14 per cent of men.
The princess got stuck into training with former England ace Danny Care and looked in her element
The Princess appeared to share a joke with ex-rugby ace Danny Care as they got to work on the pitch
She chatted with players during rugby training this afternoon at Maidenhead Rugby Club
Watch out, princess in action! Kate appeared to come close to a collision with a woman on the pitch as she reached to grab the ball
Kate shared an emotional moment with one of the coaches at the club and gave her a big hug
The Princess was visibly moved as she chatted to the woman, putting her arm around her
The woman darted out of the way as the determined princess reached towards her to grab the ball
Kate looked like a natural as she darted across the pitch and ran with the ball, ready to pass it to a teammate
The Princess of Wales, who looked right at home during the drills, will later be discussing childhood development
Kate looked focused while she carried out the drills in an activity-filled afternoon
Competitive Kate! The Princess, who has previously described herself and her family as competitive, beamed while on the pitch
Later today the Princess (pictured) will learn more about how sports clubs can provide a great community
The princess’ visit is part of her work on the Shaping Us campaign which aims to improve the early years experiences of children
Following her training session Kate will sit down to speak to fathers in the community about how sports clubs can be a support network
Kate’s enthusiasm for sport was clear by her face as she got stuck into the drills – and she will later be discussing the importance of sport in children’s lives
A hop, a skip and a jump! Although the princess is 5ft 9in and tall for a woman, she still had to stretch up to reach the ball
Mother-of-three Kate has previously revealed she and her family are huge rugby fans – and also that they’re very competitive
Opting for a little eyeliner, some blush and a touch of bronzer, the princess looked elegant yet ready for an active afternoon
Top coaching! Kate appeared to be talking tactics with former rugby star Ugo Monye, who champions her Shaping Us campaign
Facepalm! Kate appeared to regret one of her tactical decisions
The Princess of Wales appeared happy in the company of her teammates and even gave one a hug as her visit drew to a close
Later in the visit, when the Princess sat down to discuss more serious matters about how sport can play an important role in shaping the lives of children, there was a deeply emotional moment as the Princess was introduced to Maidenhead under 14s coach Sarah Renton, whose talented sportswoman daughter, Issy, tragically took her own life at the age of 17 just a few weeks ago.
A mother-of-three named Sarah gave the princess a pair of star-shaped earrings that had been made by her cousin in Issy’s memory.
Emotional Kate turned and hugged Mrs Renton fiercely and promised to wear them.
She explained afterwards: ‘My daughter Issy took her own life. The proceeds from the earrings are going to a charity called Brave Minds, a mental health charity that supports children using the platforms of rugby clubs. Mental health is such an important issue.
‘She was wonderful, Issy, a real breath of fresh air. She had wonderful, wonderful friends, surrounded herself with the best people. She was owning life, doing so well in her A levels, she was going to do an elite rugby programme, she payed touch rugby for England and got a gold medal in the summer.
‘But she was also struggling with depression. Everything was harder than it was a supposed to be.
‘We thought she was obviously doing better than she was. But I think one of the things we are looking at is GPs, medication and lack of support. She got herself in a bit of a vacuum. It’s affected a lot of the parents ands children here at the club but we are getting through it together.’
Mrs Renton added that Kate told her she would wear the earrings in future.
‘She is very passionate about what she does. It was so great that she came down here today,’ the mother said.
The graceful princess stretched up to the sky as she took part in the drills this afternoon – while another coach unfortunately got a ball to the head
The Princess of Wales got stuck into the training during her visit to Maidenhead Rugby Club this afternoon
Kate exuded confidence as she took to the field this afternoon for rugby practice
A minor adjustment! The princess briefly took a time out to tighten her ponytail
Kate beamed in the sunshine as she received her instructions
She waved as she got stuck in on the pitch during training drills
Kate’s ponytail swished in the wind as she grabbed the ball and got ready to make a pass
The princess looked graceful as she conducted the training drills in Maidenhead
The heat in the morning sun didn’t appear to put Kate off her game
Princess Kate showed off her skills as she carried out the drills
Preparing for a drop kick? Kate looked ready to take a penalty as she held the ball down below her waist
Kate had to reach high and almost jumped off the ground to catch the ball
It wasn’t long before Kate’s brilliant white Lululemon trainers were covered in grass
She looked elegant even in sportswear as she strolled across the pitch during the training drills
Despite running around the pitch in the beaming sunshine, barely a hair was out of place
Kate showed her impressive agility as she darted around the pitch to catch the ball
Primed and ready! The mother-of-three and rugby fan was in her element during the drills
The princess, who is patron of the Rugby Football Union, was put through her paces
Kate told players she was looking forward to having some ‘good chats’ throughout the day with male players about fatherhood
The princess looked thrilled to be out in the sunshine as she beamed while on the pitch
Following her training session, Kate posed for team photos with players at the club as well as staff members
Posting on her Instagram story, Kate revealed she had had a ‘fun’ morning at the rugby club in Maidenhead
Kate will also be chatting to local and professional rugby players about their childhood experiences
The graceful princess looked more ballerina than rugby player as she leapt through the air
The concentration on the princess’ face was visible as she reached out to catch the ball
Mother-of-three Kate, who is known for her love of sport, couldn’t stop smiling as she took part in the drills
Upon arrival today, the princess greeted former England player Ugo Monye with a warm smile as she exclaimed: ‘Hello! Lovely to see you’ and held out her hand to shake his.
The rugby star, 40, who is a father and has championed the Shaping Us campaign, asked the princess how she was, to which she replied: ‘Very good, thank you. Thanks so much for joining in.’
Kate added she was looking forward to having some ‘good chats’ throughout the day with male players about fatherhood and how sports clubs can improve children’s early years development.
But first she took on ex-England star Danny Care, 36, in rugby drills, where she leapt through the air with grace to catch the ball and showed her impressive agility as she darted across the pitch.
Inside the club Kate sat down the a group of players, including Lawes and Care, to speak about their experiences as fathers along with Si Trower, the founder of mental health charity Brave Mind, and other club players.
‘Do you feel, particularly as a first time dad, there was information out there to help guide you?’ asked the princess.
‘Not at the time,’ Mr Trower said, ‘but neither did I go out looking for it. It’s a big life change and could be really hard at the time.’
Lawes said to laughter from Kate and the other players: ‘As a dad for the first six to nine months my Mrs was breastfeeding and you feel a bit of a spare part a lot of the time.
‘If you knew the first five years of their life was such an important period you would be more likely to dive right into it. Instead of thinking, well they’ll get to six or seven and start paying football and then we’ll be sweet!’
He added: ‘What I’ve realised is that we are the best example that they have got. It’s so important to be a role model for your kids and see how you and your partner co-operate, solve issues and the like.’
Kate said: ‘What started my journey looking into the first five years was going into schools, talking to them about mental health. The staff were telling me that so much more needs to be done before they even step past their door. ‘
She continued: ‘ So many of those years are non-verbal. Teenagers can articulate how they feel.
‘With mental health so many more people are talking about it, which is great. But we have to be careful not to over medicalise it. That’s why we wanted to focus predominantly on the social and emotional development of young children particularly in this critical period because it’s the foundations of their healthy minds and healthy relationships later down the line. ‘
She then turned to the players and asked: ‘Do you feel as parents…because it didn’t come across my radar as a first time parent…the things we can do support our children’s social and emotional development?
‘There’s a lot around breastfeeding, weaning, sleep time, baby’s weight…but I was less aware around the things we could all be doing. It’s harder to access that information as a first time parent. ‘ All the men agreed.
The princess added: ‘There are parents up and down the country who haven’t had positive childhoods of their own and who are struggling with their own kids.
‘As well as highlighting the importance of the issue, making sure that families have as much support as possible to do the best possible job they want to do is important. Every parents wants to do the best job they possible can.
‘But they do don’t have the lifelines of their own family or community places such as this.’
Before she left the princess posed for a photographs with the professionals and club players and was joking invited to kick a ball over the head of the photographers and journalists.
Kate took up the challenge – sending the ball soaring to cheers.
The mother-of-three was ready for action with her sleek yet practical sports look
The Princess of Wales donned her sports gear as she arrived at Maidenhead Rugby Club this afternoon
As she strolled along with Ugo Monye, the princess flashed her brilliant white Lululemon trainers
The princess looked in her element as she chatted to Ugo Monye upon arrival at Maidenhead Rugby Club
Upon arrival today, the princess greeted former England player Ugo Monye with a warm smile as she exclaimed: ‘Hello! Lovely to see you’ and held out her hand to shake his
She laughed as she chatted to Ugo Monye upon arrival at Maidenhead Rugby Club
The Princess of Wales with Shaping Us champion, and former England rugby player Ugo Monye, during a visit to Maidenhead Rugby Club, Berkshire
Ugo Monye, said of the visit: ‘I’m ecstatic. You always hope that conversations are going to be as open and as honest as that. But to have the richness and the depth of that sort of conversation, from parenting to siblings to role models in you life, was exceptional.’ Pictured, Kate at today’s event
The Princess of Wales with Shaping Us champion, and former England rugby player Ugo Monye, during a visit to Maidenhead Rugby Club
Danny Care, himself a father of three, added: ‘What shone through the conversation was that really cares about this, you can hear it when she talks about it. If you hear that Her Royal Highness can have struggles with her kids then you might feel a bit more normal about you having them. It was amazing for her to come down here and spend some time.’
He added: ‘ When it comes to fatherhood, you don’t really know what it is all about until you become a dad. You can learn off experiences in your own life and listen to the older guys on the team. You always have people in this sport to lean on for advice which is amazing. It’s a real community. Then I’ve just kinda gone with it and seen how it goes. ‘And you know what? The kids are alright I think. They are healthy at least!
‘Especially as a first time dad when you have real responsibility to deal with. You realise you have a little human being at home to take care of and you ask your partner ‘what are we going to do?’
Ugo Monye, said of the visit: ‘I’m ecstatic. You always hope that conversations are going to be as open and as honest as that. But to have the richness and the depth of that sort of conversation, from parenting to siblings to role models in you life, was exceptional.
‘It’s a mindset of understanding that these are the most impactful years on your child’s life and to make them feel as settled and happy as possible.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-12168619/Sporty-Kate-dons-tracksuit-bottoms-trainers-meet-rugby-players-Maidenhead.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Sporty Kate dons tracksuit bottoms and trainers to meet rugby players in Maidenhead