The Truth About Kate Middleton's Inspiring Charity Work

While some members of the public might question what it is that royals actually do every day, a huge part of their lives involves charity work. When Kate Middleton married Prince William and became the Duchess of Cambridge, she had some time to adjust to her new life before jumping into royal duties. Kate was then given her first patronages just about 9 months after the royal wedding, with four organizations announced in January 2012, per CBS News. Since then, she's added a number of other commitments to her agenda, mostly in the areas of early childhood development, the arts, mental health, sports, and the outdoors. The duchess is also involved in the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which carries out initiatives based on the charitable interests of the couple, per the foundation's website

While charity work is an important focus for Kate, she has made it clear that being a mom is her number-one priority. A source told the Daily Express that the Cambridges will always focus on their kids over adding more royal duties to their calendars. "Not everyone will agree with it and they completely understand that, but that's not going to change the way they run their lives," the insider said. 

From getting active with sports charities to speaking out on addiction, we're taking a look at the inspiring charity work of the Duchess of Cambridge. 

She's made early intervention a huge focus in her charity work

Kate Middleton has worked with many children's organizations over the years, including Place2Be, Family Action, and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (via Royal Central). However, it wasn't just her work with kids that drove her interest in the early years and in particular, early intervention. In fact, Kate said she'd met "lots of people who are suffering with addiction or poor mental health, and hearing time and time again that their troubles now in adulthood stem right back from early childhood experience" (via Hello!)

Realizing the connection, the duchess set out to learn more about how experiences in the early years impact lifelong outcomes, per the magazine. Kirsty Day, who serves as an ambassador for U.K. charity The Forward Trust, told Hello! that she admired Kate for raising awareness about early intervention. Day, who suffered from a childhood impacted by drug abuse, said that the duchess was a role model for other mothers and would inspire the public to learn more.

The arts are a passion of the duchess and she reflects that in her patronages

As an art history graduate of the University of St Andrews, it only makes sense that Kate Middleton would be interested in charities and organizations involved in the arts. She has a great love for photography and drawing, and even included her own sketch of Scotland on a thank you card from a royal tour (via People). Unsurprisingly, two of her first four patronages announced were arts-focused, per the Huffington Post: The National Portrait Gallery in London, and The Art Room, a now-defunct children's charity that focused on art therapy to help children with mental health and other issues.

Kate has added even more art-related patronages to her portfolio since 2012, including one passed down from the queen herself. In 2019, photography fan Kate took on her grandmother-in-law's former role as patron of the Royal Photographic Society (via E! Online). She also works with London's Victoria and Albert Museum, per the Daily Mail.

The royal has taken on addiction as a cause close to her heart

Back in January 2012, when Kate Middleton's very first patronages were announced, one of them was the charity Action on Addiction, per the Los Angeles Times. The organization expressed its excitement at the time, saying the duchess' highly public role would bring awareness to a subject that can often be taboo to discuss. Since then, Kate has continued to support the charity and became patron of the Forward Trust when it merged with Action on Addiction in June 2021, per People. She's visited treatment centers to meet those facing addiction, and even served up mocktails at an alcohol-free bar run by Action on Addiction during the BBC special "A Berry Royal Christmas" (via The Sun).

In a speech during 2021's Addiction Awareness Week, Kate discussed how addiction didn't discriminate on who it touched. "No one chooses to become an addict," Kate said, adding that it could happen to anyone. "It is all too rarely discussed as a serious mental health condition and seldom do we take the time to uncover and fully understand its fundamental root causes" (via People).

Kate is working to erase the stigma of talking about mental health

One thing Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, noticed when she was carrying out her charity work was that many issues in adulthood all seemed to stem back to one thing: mental health. She shared this in a spring 2017 video chat for the Heads Together mental health campaign Kate was working on at the time with her husband, Prince William, and brother-in-law, Prince Harry. The duchess pointed out that mental health was a common theme between all of their charities, whether they were working with addiction, the military, homelessness, or bereavement. She also spoke candidly about her struggles as a new mother, and William and Harry shared about losing their own mom in the video, which encouraged people to talk about their feelings.

As patron of the children's mental health charity Place2Be, Kate helped launch the first Children's Mental Health Week in 2015 (via the Observer). Since then, she has remained involved in speaking out about how mental health needs to be at the forefront of early intervention strategies. In fact, when she guest-edited the Huffington Post U.K., Kate pointed out that mental health was often ignored when it came to children and parents felt judged for seeking out help. She said, in her experience, that "the issues that led people to addiction and destructive decision making seemed to almost always stem from unresolved childhood challenges."

The sporty duchess has backed a range of sports-focused organizations

Ever since childhood, Kate Middleton has been a gifted athlete, and she's been involved with everything from tennis and sailing to volleyball and field hockey — she was even captain of her school hockey team at Marlborough College and holds the still-standing record for high jump at her first school, St Andrew's, per the Daily Mirror. With such a sporty background, it's no wonder that Kate has chosen to get involved with multiple charities that focus on getting active. In 2013, she became the royal patron of SportsAid, which helps young people achieve their dreams of competing in the Olympic or Paralympic Games (via E! Online). At a gala for the organization in 2016, she gave a speech talking about the importance of sports, saying, "I love the physical challenge sport presents and the mental strength it gives us all. And I love the way it so often brings people together to work as part of a team." 

Whenever she's on official royal engagements she seems to get into the competitive spirit and loves to get hands-on (she actually played volleyball in sky-high wedge heels and skinny jeans at an event for SportsAid, per the Daily Mirror). Along with SportsAid, Kate serves as patron for The Rugby Football League, the 1851 Trust, The Lawn Tennis Association, and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which hosts Wimbledon (via Royal Central). 

In 2020, she launched a landmark survey as part of her early years work

Kate Middleton's work with children and focusing on early childhood development has been an important part of her charity work, and in 2020 she announced an exciting new project to uncover more about attitudes toward early childhood (via the Daily Mail). The survey, which was the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom, was titled "5 Big Questions on the Under Fives" and asked the public to answer five questions such as," "What do you believe is most important for children growing up in the U.K. today to live a happy adult life?" (via Baby Magazine). 

According to the Daily Mail, Kate's research showed that missed early intervention costs England and Wales roughly £17 billion per year due to societal issues such as addiction, homelessness, mental health struggles, and other problems that could potentially be avoided by addressing issues in early childhood. More than 500,000 people responded to the survey, and the results uncovered that only 24% of Brits thought birth to age five was the most important period to influence lifelong outcomes. Additionally, seven out of every 10 parents reported feeling judged, with 48% adding that it impacted their mental health. In a speech following the release of the survey results, Kate said she had witnessed "how positive protective factors in the early years can play a crucial role in shaping our futures," adding that education needs to begin before school.

She became the first-ever royal patron of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2018

As an art history graduate and a keen amateur artist herself, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge has shown her prowess in the art world over the years. In 2018, she made one of her biggest commitments to the United Kingdom's art community when she was named the very first royal patron of London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), per Harper's Bazaar. Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the museum has a reputation around the world for housing one of the most impressive collections of art, fashion, furniture, and other decorative objects.

Tristram Hunt, the museum's director, shared the V&A's excitement over their first-ever patron in a statement shared with Harper's Bazaar. He said her experience and passions matched up with the museum's mission, praising her "personal interest in photography, textiles and the visual arts, alongside her support for the role of art in supporting mental health and nurturing young people's creative talent." 

She's visited the museum a number of times for official exhibitions, such as 2021's display of elaborate Fabergé eggs, and in 2019, Kate joined her husband Prince William to officially open the V&A's new Dundee branch in Scotland. 

Kate photographed Holocaust survivors for a moving exhibition

As someone who enjoys being behind the lens of the camera, Kate Middleton was the natural choice for the queen to pass down the role of patron of the Royal Photographic Society in 2019 (via E! Online). Kate, who often takes the official photos of her children rather than turning to a professional photographer, has paired up with the Royal Photographic Society on events like photography workshops for kids in need, per the media outlet. But in 2020, she put her skills to use for a special reason: photographing survivors of the Holocaust in honor of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (via the Daily Mail). 

She met with survivors Stephen Frank and Yvonne Bernstein and their granddaughters, creating portraits of each family that later went on display at London's Imperial War Museum. Kate said she'd asked each family to bring objects of significance for their photo, and in Frank's portrait, he's holding a pan that his mother used to serve a paste of water and bread to keep her children alive. The media outlet noted that Frank was one of only 93 children that survived his camp. In 2021, Kate was reunited with the two families when the Imperial War Museum's new galleries on World War II and the Holocaust opened. The royal, who hugged each survivor, said they were "two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet."

The outdoorsy royal loves working with the Scouts

She's known for her love of sports and the outdoors, and another area Kate Middleton is passionate about when it comes to giving back is the Scouts. In 2020, it was announced that Kate was appointed as the joint president of the U.K. Scouting Association (via the Daily Mirror). The queen's cousin, the Duke of Kent, is co-president of the organization, alongside the queen, who serves as patron. However, Kate had worked with the Scouts long before her appointment as president, even volunteering with her local Scout pack in Wales when she and Prince William were living there after the royal wedding, per the publication.

Matt Heid, CEO of the U.K. Scouting Association, told the podcast "Pod Save The Queen" that Kate was very hands-on and involved with the children, and encouraged others to be their best (via the Daily Express). In 2014, Kate helped the organization on their campaign to reach low-income communities, visiting a Scout pack in East London. She also helped celebrate the 100th anniversary of cub scouting in 2016, per the newspaper. Kate spoke of how the Scouts are special to her, and she appreciates how the organization helps "young people to support their communities and achieve their goals" (via the Daily Mirror).

Kate helped the U.K. find inspiration in lockdown through the Hold Still project

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kate Middleton used her role as the royal patron of the National Portrait Gallery and her love of photography to help inspire Brits through a new project called "Hold Still" (via Harper's Bazaar). The campaign invited the public to submit photos of their lives in lockdown and how they were dealing with COVID-19. Kate helped choose from more than 31,000 submissions to create a digital exhibition including 100 photos, ranging from healthcare workers to families who could only visit through a window. The photos were featured on murals and billboards across the United Kingdom, and Kate met some of the inspiring photographers and subjects, such as Mila, a young girl with leukemia (via People).

In 2021, Harper's Bazaar reported that the final 100 photos were turned into a coffee table book, with Kate providing the introduction. In the book, she wrote how the pandemic had presented many difficulties, but also positives such as communities rallying together, and she "wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing." Half of the proceeds from the book, called "Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020," went to the mental health charity Mind, per the magazine, with the other half benefiting the National Portrait Gallery's educational programs.

Kate has raised awareness for the work of children's hospices across the U.K.

As her work with young people over the years has demonstrated, Kate Middleton has a passion for working with children. But one of her causes involves the most difficult subject any parent can imagine: kids with terminal illnesses. Kate became the patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) in 2012 and since then, has worked to raise awareness for the children's hospice community in the United Kingdom. The charity was the site of a big milestone for the duchess, too: her first-ever public speech took place when EACH officially opened its Treehouse facility, per The Guardian.

Although the pandemic made it difficult to interact with patients in person, Kate was able to take part in video calls for EACH, and also attended an event in 2020 to help patients and families plant a garden (via Hello!). Kate, who kept her famous engagement ring on while digging in the dirt, planted a sunflower in memory of a young EACH patient named Fraser whose family she met on a video call, per the magazine.

The duchess pens a letter in support of Children's Hospice Week every year, and in 2021, she reflected on the challenges families with terminally ill children faced during the pandemic (via People). Kate praised the work of children's hospices during such a difficult time, saying how they were "a lifeline, and I have been privileged to see first-hand the remarkable work they do."

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood will be a cornerstone of her charity work

In 2021, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, launched her biggest project yet: The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood (via Harper's Bazaar). The centre, which operates under the umbrella of the Cambridges' Royal Foundation, is focused on raising awareness of why early childhood is such a pivotal age for building strong foundations.

According to the Royal Foundation, the duchess's new project will zone in on three main areas: research, working to create solutions for early childhood success, and creating campaigns to raise public awareness about why the early years are so important. Kate said she was launching the centre after speaking "to psychiatrists to neuroscientists to practitioners and academics and parents alike" and that "what has become clear is that the best investment for our future health and happiness is in the first five years of life" (via Harper's Bazaar). In conjunction with the centre's launch, a report called "Big Change Starts Small" was released, with Kate writing the foreword. In the message, she touched on how children's personalities are shaped, and how even adults who didn't have happy childhoods could work on breaking the cycle for their kids.