The Duchess of Cambridge has worn a face mask at a royal event for the first time as she revealed that the stories of families struggling during lockdown moved her to tears.
Kate described how she wept after a trip to a baby bank, which provides essential items to mothers in need like nappies and infant clothes, as she visited a similar project in Sheffield.
The duchess’ tour of Baby Basics UK in South Yorkshire highlighted her efforts spearheading a donation drive which has seen shops like John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco give more than 10,000 new goods to baby banks across the country.
During the event, Kate put on a floral face mask, a move which shows how the monarchy are adhering to coronavirus guidelines like the rest of the country.
The Duchess of Cornwall recently wore a face covering during a visit to the National Gallery in London, and the Prince of Wales has joked about being given tartan masks.
Commenting on how she cried after returning home from the baby bank visit, Kate said: “It can get very emotional.
“I remember a couple of the families I met from King’s Lynn and I went home and literally burst into tears, their stories were so moving. The struggles they have gone through, the bravery they have shown … in extraordinary circumstances.
“Helping their families through extraordinary times.”
Baby banks have proved to be a lifeline for many parents during the coronavirus crisis, but have found their services under increasing pressure due to demand and because they cannot accept second hand donations.
Hearing of this, Kate – who has also previously visited Baby Basics in West Norfolk – decided to see if she could help and has encouraged donations from 19 brands and high street retailers to Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities, who operate baby banks across the UK.
Their workforce is primarily volunteers and they receive referrals from services like health visitors, midwives and social workers.
Kate helped unpack donations including clothes and toys during her visit to Baby Basics UK in Sheffield, before talking to parents about how baby banks have provided them with invaluable support when they have needed it most.
Cat Ross, chief executive officer of Baby Basics, told the duchess: “Often in a world where there is a lot of judgment and stereotyping about being poor, that additional stress can be even more difficult for parents who are doing amazing things to keep their families going with such strength, such determination.”
Kate replied: “Yes, one of the mums I met was a nurse. These are families who do fantastic jobs and even they are struggling.
“All of the research shows how vital things like this are for them and that they are being recognised.”
The duchess talked at length about the future impact of Covid-19, particularly for children.
“It’s difficult for sure but there is a lot of fear (and) worry about when furlough ends and what it means for families,” said Ms Ross.
“But one of the positives to come out of it is the strength of communities across the UK and people wanting to help, volunteering and wanting to provide for each other.
“Organisations like us want to harvest that and it keep it going as much as possible.”
At the height of the lockdown, Kate’s children were pictured joining in with the weekly applause for carers and delivering food to the vulnerable on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.
The duchess said: “It’s been wonderful during lockdown, hasn’t it?
“About the way everyone has been busy knitting away, and actually it is those small volunteering acts that everyone can contribute to, that make such a difference.
“That inter-generational support system has been amazing. Knowing that you can make such a big difference to another family is wonderful.”