The Duchess of Cambridge showed an “extraordinary” interest in psychology as she visited researchers looking at the way in which children develop socially and emotionally.
Kate chatted to students about her studies in psychology at university as she visited UCL’s Division of Psychology and Language Science in London on Wednesday.
Professor Eamon McCrory, co-director of the developmental risk and resilience unit, said: “Her level of interest is extraordinary.
“She has a genuine interest and understanding. It’s highly encouraging and hugely supportive. It helps to raise awareness.”
Earlier this year Kate organised practitioners and academics to discuss what can be done to make a positive difference in the lives of children, focusing on their earliest stage of life, from pre-birth to infancy.
The team of researchers at UCL are working to examine the effect of mental and physical trauma on children.
During the visit, Kate was shown the unit’s MRI scanning facility to learn about their research on how early experience shapes brain function.
Children participating in the research play games while their brains are scanned. The magnets inside can detect subtle changes in the brain relating to traumatic experiences.
“It’s been great to see behind the scenes,” Kate said. “What’s really interesting is that it’s all so new.”
Kate arrived for the visit wearing a burgundy skirt and Paule Ka jacket with a black turtle neck jumper, just hours after the Duchess of Sussex wore a Club Monaco burgundy coat and matching dress as she made a return visit to the west London kitchen which inspired her collaborative work on a Grenfell charity cookbook.
The duchess, who studied psychology during her first year at the University of St Andrews, also heard from members of Prof McCrory’s neuroscience research team about how they work closely with children and families to shed new light on resilience following early adversity.
Kate also spoke to social workers from Camden and Islington, and praised their partnership with UCL and their work in the community.
“I hope this is the beginning of an increase in awareness of the critical importance of early years development,” Prof McCrory said.
“Science is one part of rethinking our approach, but it’s a much wider challenge. The duchess’s interest and breadth of her commitment will shine a light on an important issue.”