Kate Middleton stepped into the spotlight on Wednesday to make a rare and eloquent speech during a solo outing at a gala dinner for Addiction Awareness Week.
The royal mom doesn’t often make formal speeches. In fact, after her first public speech in 2012, she reportedly told a guest: “I find doing speeches nerve-wracking.”
She often appears more comfortable interacting with members of the public on a personal level — in the crowds and on intimate outings. But as Queen Elizabeth continues to hand off more and more of her royal duties to senior members of the royal family, Kate has been increasingly speaking out.
And since becoming of mom of three, she’s displayed a newfound confidence that has seen her championing solo projects, such as her newly designed garden for the Chelsea Flower Show and her latest campaign focused on the mental health of kids.
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On Wednesday, she took the podium to deliver a heartfelt speech for Action on Addiction’s Addiction Awareness Week, which aims to foster discussion about the varied elements of addiction and engage with people and families affected.
Looking radiant in her white off-the-shoulder dress by Barbara Casasola (a royal rewear!), she said: “Action on Addiction was one of my very first patronages, and as such, it is very close to my heart.
“I’m hugely passionate about the support it provides, especially for parents, children and families who suffer from, or through, addiction. And in some ways, it was the catalyst for my interest in early childhood development too.”
“For the last few years, I’ve been focussing on the importance of prevention: how can we all really support the earliest years of life, build foundations, and help avoid adversity later on in life.
“Having met so many people who’ve suffered from addiction, I have seen over and over again that, sadly, the root cause can so often be traced right back to the very earliest years of someone’s life.
“Trauma experienced in early childhood, in some cases, as a result of separation, abandonment, abuse, or even emotional neglect, can have a lasting effect.
“What we experience during our earliest years, even while we’re still in the womb, shapes the developing brain.
“It is therefore vital that we support everyone who cares for children in those formative years, especially if we want to help with the inter-generational cycle of addiction.
“Sadly, for many who are suffering with addiction, they just don’t receive the help they need early enough. They have already reached crisis point before they find the support they need.
“What’s remarkable about Action on Addiction is that it goes beyond helping those who are suffering on the courageous journey into recovery – it also lends direct support to the children and families affected by addiction – for as long as it takes.
“This evening’s dinner not only marks ‘Addiction Awareness Week,’ but it also provides an opportunity for us all to remember the vital work being done to help all those affected by addiction feel able to access help, hope and freedom from their addiction.
“There was never a more important time for Action on Addiction to succeed. And I, for one, could not be more delighted to support such a special organization.”
Over the past few years, Kate has put children’s mental health at the forefront of her public work and recently set up a steering group of academics and experts to help advise her on the best ways forward in tackling the problem.
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The royal mom’s involvement is bringing about a “major shift in attitudes to mental health, with greater understanding that [it] is just as important as our physical health,” Catherine Roche, the chief executive of one of Kate’s charities, Place2Be, previously told PEOPLE
“We can see how this is becoming an issue that is being publicly discussed — which is a real sea change,” added Roche. Kate’s “commitment and understanding is making a huge difference to the level of interest that this previously neglected area is now receiving.”
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