She was so interested in the topics that she stayed an extra hour listening to experts

By Simon Perry
Updated November 20, 2013 08:45 AM
Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

The Duchess of Cambridge put up a fight against bullying Wednesday morning, spending a second day visiting a charity, this time in London’s financial district.

Arriving right before 10:30 at a forum for one of her favorite charities, Place2Be, which provides school-based mental health and emotional support services to kids and parents, Kate received a bouquet from a schoolgirl as the day’s wind kept flipping up her skirt.

Inside, experts discussed such topics as cyberbullying, self-harm, special education needs and preventing addiction, all of which proved of such interest to Kate that she decided to stay a full hour longer than planned.

The decision to remain was made at the “spur of the moment,” said a royal aide, because Kate was “enjoying” the forum so much.

“Childhood and adolescence is a vulnerable time,” Benita Refson OBE, chief executive of Place2Be, told the conference. “Trauma, domestic violence, family breakdown, substance abuse and the impact of poverty all mean that children come to school with more than a satchel on their back. The consequences can be devastating.

Refson added, “Children deserve to be given the stability to bounce back from life’s adversities.”

Kate, who is said to have suffered bullying at one of her early schools, has made bullying and other emotional challenges faced by schoolchildren a key concern of hers. She adopted Place2be last year. (She and Prince William included an anti-bullying charity among their causes after their 2011 wedding.)

An expert who spoke about cyberbullying on Wednesday said Kate was especially eager to hear about the difficulties facing infants.

Interested in the Very Young

Professor Tanya Byron told reporters, “She was very interested in the early years, zero- to 5-year-olds, which I guess is because she’s a new mother but also because she’s interested.

Kate had other interests, too, said Byron. “She was at a engagement yesterday and they mentioned sexting. She was interested in what we do and my colleagues’ work on addiction.”

And Kate – wearing an Orla Kiely skirt with a matching jacket by MaxMara – clearly wants to learn more.

“She’s a very bright woman,” Byron said. “At one point when I was speaking, she was telling the person she was with, ‘I hope you’re writing this down.’ [For her,] it’s not just a fly in and fly out. You can see this means something to her.”

Apparently, even the kids would agree.

Earlier, after listening to two talks, Kate was sung to by the children of St. Edmunds Primary School in Tower Hamlets. Among their numbers: “The World’s Greatest,” by R. Kelly.

“Have you been practicing?” asked Kate. “Thank you so much.”