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British people should focus more on the developmental needs of children aged under five, Kate, the wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince William, said in an open letter released on Saturday ahead of a new awareness campaign.

The Princess of Wales, as she is officially titled, has made the issue one of her focal campaigning causes, setting up the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood two years ago.

“It is a time where we lay the foundations and building blocks for life. It is when we learn to understand ourselves, understand others and understand the world in which we live,” wrote Kate, who earlier this week met a group of experts to provide advice and oversight of her Centre.

“But as a society, we currently spend much more of our time and energy on later life. I am absolutely determined that this long-term campaign is going to change that.”

She said she would be joined by experts along with “well-known faces from music, sport and television” to highlight the critical importance of early childhood.

The British royals have been in the spotlight over the last two months following accusations from William’s younger brother Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, about internal family divisions and allegations about their behaviour.

They have made no public response to these, but have focused attention instead on their official duties and campaigning issues.