The Duchess of Cambridge spent the better part of Tuesday rocking out with children at a Christmas party at the Anna Freud Centre in Islington, North London.
The Duchess held her dignity while playing bongo drum in her own unique “sidesaddle technique”. Afterall, she wasn’t going to play the traditional way between her legs in an Alexander McQueen dress!
Joining children and parents being taught by Jude Winwood, founder of the Nottingham-based education music company Beatfeet, Catherine beat out the rhythm of We Will Rock You on West African goatskin Djembe drums.
Seated on her left was 12-year-old Capon Duggan-Samuels who said: “Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy for her to hold the drum properly because she was in a dress. She was holding it by her side. But she was making the right sounds.”
Winwood agreed, saying: “She had such good rhythm. She was thrown in at the deep end but I gave her a few clues?, hand signals. She knew what was required of her.”
The Duchess who then spent time giving out hugs to the kids while they created paper hands that were placed together to form a Christmas tree collage on a wall spoke to them about football among other things.
Eight-year-old Rjay Bryan spoke with Catherine about her husband, Prince Willam’s favourite team, Aston Villa, he wondered if Catherine was also a supporter.
Rjay excitedly said: “We high fived because she supports Chelsea and I support Chelsea. I love people who support Chelsea,”
In actual fact, the Duchess had just guessed Rjay’s favourite team and had not revealed her own, but she wasn’t about to correct the young boy.
The Duchess showed off her musical talents one more time singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas with the children and parents. Before she left, Catherine told the crowd: “Thank you everyone. It’s been so fantastic to see you all again doing amazing things. Keep it up and have a really happy Christmas.”
The children gave her a basket of chocolates and Rjay gave her a necklace with a drum on the end.
“The visit reflects the Duchess’s continued interest in child mental health issues and the importance of early intervention and working with the whole family to provide children with in-school mental health services.” said a Kensington Palace spokeswomen.
Even though 75 percent of mental health issues in adults start in childhood, Britain only spends six percent of their national mental health budget is spent on youth.
Chief executive of the Anna Freud Centre and a professor of child mental health at University College London, Peter Fonagy said: “Someone like her being interested in children with emotional and behavioural issues is unprecedented. It could be a game-changing thing.
“The Prime Minister is interested in improving dementia care, there are celebrities who get interested in adult mental health issues if they have a problem, but nobody like the Duchess of Cambridge has spoken up about child mental health before.”
Fonagy said how Catherine was seated between two expert kids when she was drumming.
“She felt a bit out-drummed by them, but she hadn’t been rehearsing like they had. She got into it and said she felt it was theraputic — it released her tensions, perhaps?
“The last visit had a deep impression on her and she remembered the kids as someone she knew and recognised. She makes a very special contact with kids.
“Even among teachers and mental health professionals who do this day in, day out you don’t see that ease, that smoothness in which she interacts with the kids, even those she hasn’t met before. They all think she’s fantastic, she’s their princess. And they all wanted to give her a hug.”