Princess of Wales dreams of a ‘happier world’ with Shaping Us initiative

The Princess of Wales has spoken of her dream to create a “happier, healthier, more nurturing world for us all to live in” — and the importance of looking after mental health from an early age.

In a filmed conversation with Capital FM host and mental health campaigner Roman Kemp, released to promote her new Shaping Us initiative, she said she wanted to help children fulfil their potential and start life on the front foot.

The pair spoke of their “shared mission” to strengthen family life to produce healthy, happy adults. Both are calling for more support for children struggling with mental health issues.

The princess, 41, earlier this week launched Shaping Us, an ambitious campaign described as her “life’s work” and aimed at raising the profile of the early years development of children.

She told Kemp as they walked in the Hertfordshire countryside of its aims. “For us it’s from pregnancy to age five. It’s when our brain grows the fastest, it’s at its most malleable, so it’s really such a critical time to lay the foundations for their future adult selves,” she said.

“It’s like building a house and without strong foundations, without that solid start in life, then those building blocks are much harder to build later in life.”

The mother-of-three told Kemp, 30, that the key to a happy life was having healthy relationships. She continued: “What I’ve come away with is the importance of having healthy, strong relationships in a child’s life.

“Fundamentally we are trying to raise the importance of early childhood and why it matters so much, for our future lives — it’s a fundamental part of who we are.

“This isn’t just about raising kids; it’s about shaping our futures, shaping our society, creating a happier, healthier, more nurturing world for us all to live in. That’s the dream.”

The princess, who was wearing a sheepskin coat, polo neck jumper and gloves, added: “Every family is different and the pressures we all face are different.

“Whilst raising the importance of early childhood, this isn’t about putting extra pressure on families, it’s actually saying they need the support and help re-prioritising family life... home life and all that it takes raising children today, because it is tough. It’s not about the number of toys they have, the number of trips you go on with them.

“It’s just making sure they have the right emotional support around them and that comes from the adults in their lives.”

Kemp, son of Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp and Wham! singer Shirlie, spoke of how his family had shaped him and continued to be his rock. He said: “I always say the best part of my life is my family and it has shaped who I am but it’s so difficult.

“You only have to look around at the country and see people are not just struggling with raising kids but putting a roof above their head, to be able to heat their house — so all those things can come into play.”

Kemp also talked about the suicide of his best friend, Capital FM producer Joe Lyons. In 2021, Kemp presented a BBC Three documentary looking at the mental health crisis affecting young men and revealed that he had considered taking his own life after battling depression for more than a decade.

He said in the film with Kate: “I wish I wasn’t associated with the word suicide and unfortunately that word will follow me around for a long time.”

He added that many men struggled with mental health but unlike with their physical wellbeing they didn’t address problems, which he wanted to change. He added: “Friendship is what will save lives.”

Kate agreed responding: “Everyone takes care of their physical health but find it much harder to look after our mental health.”