The Duchess of Cambridge: Best of 2020
Despite the difficulties this year has brought, there is perhaps no other working members of the family who rose to the occasion as William and Catherine have. Once they successfully switched to a virtual engagement format, they continued to support and uplift communities most affected by the pandemic, especially frontline workers. They not only did incredible work during and through the pandemic but they had been stepping up in the beginning of the year as well. As they have now presumably finished growing their family, their attention shifted to their work, laying the foundation for what they will focus on the next several years and beyond. Here were some of my favorite moments from the Duchess of Cambridge in 2020.
10. U.K. Africa Investment Summit at Buckingham Palace
Prior to the pandemic or lockdowns, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hosted their first summit at Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen. It was celebrating the relationship between the United Kingdom and Africa with delegates from several African countries in attendance. Prince William spoke during the summit sharing his personal love of Africa as it is where his father took him and Prince Harry after the death of their mother as well as the place where he decided to propose to Catherine. The Summit was attended by other members of the family as well including the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal. It was the first of several events this year that demonstrated the future role that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will play in the family.
9. Royal Tour Ireland
One of only a handful of tours this year since travel shut down in late March was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's three day tour of Ireland. They managed to flawlessly combine important foreign relations work (visiting the president's official residence and paying tribute to Irish soldiers at the garden of remembrance) as well as some of their personal work in areas like mental health, the environment, sport and young people. The trip reaffirmed the friendship between the United Kingdom and Ireland as their closest neighbors as well as celebrating Irish culture and heritage. While the beginning of 2021 will likely see the continuation of zoom calls and virtual visits, I am incredibly hopeful that come fall or winter we might get at least one or two royal tours.
8. Appearance on Happy Mum Happy Baby Podcast
Catherine led the way for Royals on podcasts this year when she appeared on Happy Mum Happy Baby while promoting her five big questions initiative. Her husband and brother and sister in law followed suit not long after appearing on the Peter Crouch Podcast and Teenager Therapy. During her conversation with Giovanna Fletcher Catherine shared some of the best parts of motherhood as well as some of the most difficult. They also talked extensively about the importance of maternal mental health in order to ensure every child gets the very best start in life, one of the Duchesses main focuses and biggest passions.
7. 5 Big Questions U.K. Tour
Catherine began this year with a survey, five big questions about the under fives. The aim was to see what people in the United Kingdom thought of the early years in order to better steer her work in the future to make generational changes. She visited England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote the survey where she participated in several child focused engagements, speaking to parents and carers about their experiences and thoughts when raising the next generation.
Catherine has exceptional skill with a camera as seen through the portraits that have been released through the years, but her best work is always of her family. Fans were treated to portraits for each of the children's birthday as well as photos taken by Catherine to mark Prince Williams birthday and Fathers Day. In addition to family portraits Catherine took photographs of two holocaust survivors with their family's as part of a new exhibition for the Holocaust Memorial Trust.
5. Supporting Baby Banks
This summer the Duchess of Cambridge partnered with 19 British Brands in order to provide essentials to baby banks across the U.K. that were in need as more people began to rely on their services during the pandemic. Catherine made a few trips to her local baby bank where she helped to sort supplies such as clothing, books, toys and nappies. The best part of the engagement, for me, came several days after when the baby bank had to announce they were temporarily closed to donations as they had received so many supplies they no longer had room to accomodate more donations. Her support of baby banks reaffirmed her commitment to the early years while supporting struggling families who found themselves in need during the pandemic.
4. Mental Health Support for Frontline Workers
Mental Health has been a focus of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's for several years but this year they put particular focus on supporting the mental health of frontline workers. As healthcare staff, essential workers and volunteers were so strained due to the pandemic, they began checking in on them, both at home and in commonwealth countries. Their work culminated in a grant of £1.8 million for frontline charities, specifically in supporting mental health programs.
3. The reveal of the 5 Big Insights
While the 5 Big Questions tour was definitely a favorite of mine, the insights learned from the survey was even more impressive to me, having previously worked with children. The insights will help to target the Duchesses work to help overcome stigma or provide support in areas where it is most needed throughout the United Kingdom. The first five years of a child's life are pivotal to their longtime health and success as they learn invaluable skills like problem solving, communication, coping mechanisms, social and emotional skills and organizational development. Ensuring everyone has access to support and resources to provide the best upbringing possible to young children is a large task but pivotal to advance society at large.
2. Royal Train Tour
While William and Catherine have worked all year long with frontline workers, healthcare staff, essential employees, carers, teachers and volunteers, the Royal Train Tour brought some much needed support and attention to the critical work they continue to do. It was wonderful to see all of those who have sacrificed so much this year receive thanks and appreciation for all of their work. It was also an added bonus to see the Royal Family come together in Windsor for a socially distanced reunion with the Queen.
1. Hold Still Project with the National Portrait Gallery
My absolute favorite project of the year was without a doubt, Hold Still. Catherine partnered with one of her patronages, the National Portrait Gallery, to put together a virtual exhibition to demonstrate how the United Kingdom rose to the challenges that lockdown brought. It brought together the sadness and joy, exhaustion and silliness and struggle and hope that was felt by nearly everyone in the world. The final 100 portraits all told stories of different people and different lives which somehow managed to encompass the entire nation at the same time. I am desperately hoping this will be turned into a collection or book so that one day in the future it will be possible to look back on this absolutely insane year and remember exactly what it felt like. xx