Catherine, Princess of Wales has expressed her concern about how "difficult" it must have been to have a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 41-year-old royal - who has children Princes George, nine, and Louis, four, and Princess Charlotte, seven, with husband Prince William - paid a visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton, Bedfordshire, on Wednesday (18.01.23), where she met with staff, children and their carers and discussed the impact of the lockdown periods on the youngsters' developments.
She told one member of staff: “I suppose the children here were the babies born during the pandemic. They seem super chatty, you are clearly doing an excellent job.”
And when she spoke to a small group of parents about the provision offered by the nursery, the princess asked: “I was just saying that all of you must have had young children during the pandemic. It must have been really difficult. How was that for you as parents?”
Susmita Dhaubhadel admitted having a baby during lockdown had been tough but she appreciated the "precious time" she had got to spend with her child.
Agreeing "life is so busy", Catherine replied: “There are always so many distractions. You probably all missed having those connections with other parents and your children enjoying their milestones with other children and enjoying social interactions.
“I was saying to the educators next door how vital their role is with your kids.
“They are nurturing them in this school environment but also having such a good relationship with you as parents so that they can pass the baton to you when your child comes home.”
Catherine - who has a special interest in the early years - told one of the members of staff about the importance of nurseries in a child's development, adding “we really saw that highlighted over the pandemic”.
She told Rachel Swain Marsh: “When they [nurseries] were closed down, people realised how vital they were not just for the communities they serve, but for the individual families and children in their care.”
During her visit, the princess joined the children in making masks, digging in the sand and learning Chinese letters.
She said: "They are such great children. I’ve had a nice little chat with a few of them and they are so sweet.”
Before leaving the facility, Catherine was presented with a "bouquet" of tissue paper flowers made by the children.
As she posed for photos with their parents, she said: "They looked after me very well. It was good fun."