Princess Kate Tells School Girl: 'Never Give Up' on Your Dreams

"That's going to stay with me for the rest of my life," 15-year-old Hannah tells PEOPLE

Princess Kate
Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty

Princess Kate shared some encouraging words with a young student on Friday during a school visit in London.

15-year-old Hannah made a speech before the royal mom and Prince William and later admitted to battling nerves. But when she met Kate afterward, “The princess said to me that I should always keep performing and I should never give up on my dreams,” Hannah told PEOPLE. “That is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.

“I think the fact that they came here is going to help a lot of people be able to speak up about how they’re feeling,” she added.

New pupil Robert, 11, said he had been at the school for nine “fabulous days.”

“I’m a games captain for my form, and [William] asked me what’s my favorite sport and whether I was competitive,” he said. “I told him my favorite sports are hockey and basketball and I’m quite keen on football. When I sat down, William and Kate looked at me and said, ‘Well done.’ ”

He adds, “All of us will have more of an idea of how mental health issues can affect people and the ways you can help deal with them. We have Place2Be [a mental health charity supporting kids] here and that helps us talk about our problems.”

Klaudia, 12, also made a speech to the assembly. She said, “It was amazing meeting [the royals]. They said to keep doing what we’re doing and not give up and not listen to what other people say.'”

Their visit will help “a lot of people open their eyes to the fact that if you do feel worried and scared it’s not unusual, and it’s okay to talk about,” added Klaudia. “They said it’s important because one day their children are going to school. They thought it’s important for them, so it should be important to everyone.”

Dr. Fiona Pienaar, director of clinical services at Place2Be, praised Kate for being so “knowledgeable” about mental health and helping bring conversations about the issue into the mainstream.

“Catherine has been an absolutely fantastic patron, and since the Heads Together campaign has come together, that has really raised the profile even more for mental health,” she tells PEOPLE.

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“Having met Catherine on a couple of occasions, she’s so knowledgeable about mental health and they are really passionate. I have been in situations where she’s in a small group asking questions, and it’s clear that she understands the impact of mental health and early intervention.

“The other thing she does really well, and I think they both do, is how they talk to young people. They share their experiences, and I think that shows how they really connect with young people. I imagine having their own children has also brought issues to the fore for them.”

Also during their school visit on Friday, William and Kate touched on raising 3-year-old Prince George.

William told fellow moms and dads that he and Kate were just “starting their journey” as parents.

Referring to George, he said, “Sometimes I look at him and think, ‘You are three years old – how do you know that?’

“The sleepless nights and all that is just fine. It’s all the other stuff we now have to start worrying about!”

Related Video: This Woman’s Story Had Princess Kate Nearly in Tears!

At another point, William admitted that sometimes he feels like he has never grown up.

“Sometimes I still feel like I am 16. To be honest, sometimes I still act like I am 16!” he said, laughing.

Kate grabbed his arm and teased, “I still think your 16.”

“Yes, Catherine often tells me that,” William replied.

The royal dad also addressed the various issues faced by modern children.

“My eyes have been opened up about how many layers of pressure there are on children at a young age today,” he said. “When we were growing up we didn’t have social media, mobile phones, a lot of TV programs – those kinds of social pressures – plus they have exams, plus they have the expectation to do well, plus they are friends to make. It’s a lot of layers. You can see young people buckle. There’s a lot there. And it is only going to get harder.”

Princess Kate added, “It’s all about standing up there and being super-confident, being super sociable . . . what’s fantastic about the school network here is that it is giving them that support, giving them that resilience.

“We have spoken before about how there are so many manuals about how to bring babies up, how to bring toddlers up. But when they get to this age, this stage of development, there are different challenges and there isn’t much out there in terms of tools – there is no handbook.”

Tracey Farell, whose son, Mackenzie, attends the school, described the couple as “natural and very easy to talk to. I couldn’t believe how relaxed they were and interested in how we have been handling things as parents. They were just wonderful.”

Earlier during the tour, William complimented some students on their public speaking, saying, “I was always dreadful at it at school. We should swap places – I can come back to school and you can do my job.”

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