A speech by The Duchess of Cambridge at the ‘Back to Nature’ festival at RHS Wisley Garden

Published 10 September 2019

The Back to Nature Festival is a fitting finale to a project I have been thrilled to be part of.

The Duchess of Cambridge

Thank you, Mary.

And thank you to everyone for coming here today. The Back to Nature Festival is a fitting finale to a project I have been thrilled to be part of.  

As many of you know, I was invited by the RHS to co-design a garden for families and children for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. It’s been the most amazing experience and I can’t thank the RHS enough for giving me this wonderful opportunity.  

I am delighted that many of those features that first appeared in those gardens, have found a permanent home here at Wisley in the new children’s play garden. I hope it will enable thousands of children to discover and explore the natural world around them.

I am not as green fingered as many of you here, but I was passionate about creating a garden that inspired children and adults alike to get back to nature and reap the positive mental and physical health benefits that it can bring. 

The gardens were, I suppose, a manifestation of some of the work I have been focusing on around how best we can support our children in the earliest years.

The physical benefits of being outdoors and in nature are well documented. More recently, however, I have learnt that these often safe and supportive environments can also bring significant benefits to the cognitive, social and emotional development of our children too. The experiences we gain during our earliest years influence who we become as people. They influence how we interact in school, in work and in society and, ultimately how we bring up our own children.

Whether it is planting, exploring, digging, creating, or playing; quality time spent outside provides children with the perfect environment to form those positive relationships with the people in their lives and the world around them. 

As a parent, I have learnt just how important it is to foster our children’s development, in all areas, not just physical, as soon as they are born. We build the blocks, the foundations, for future success and happiness later in their lives. 

These relationships, however, stretch far beyond the crucial one that a parent or carer has with its child. 

Like in the animal kingdom, whether a pod, a pack, or a pride, the interactions we have with the broader community – be it with our grandparent, teachers or neighbours – play a crucial role in the growth and learning of our young. 

There is a well-known proverb – that it takes a village to raise a child – everyone here represents an integral part of that very village.

By coming together, having fun, learning and experiencing new things, we can all impart life-long benefits on our children.

That is why I wanted to invite you here today – many of whom I have met in my pursuit to learn more about the early years - to celebrate the work that you are doing, thank you personally and to continue working with you to inspire even more people to follow your lead. 

I hope you all have a wonderful day.