Duchess Kate embarks on UK tour for childhood survey

CARDIFF (Reuters) - Britain’s duchess Kate, the wife of Prince William, embarked on a short tour of the country to launch a survey on people’s views on bringing up children, as the royals carry on with official duties in the wake of the rift over Prince Harry.

The Duchess of Cambridge, as she is officially known, started the “5 big questions on the under 5s” initiative in Birmingham in central England on Tuesday and visited Cardiff on Wednesday. She was later due to visit a women’s prison in Surrey, south of the British capital.

The tour comes as William’s younger brother Harry flew back to Canada after sparking a crisis in the British monarchy by announcing he and his American wife Meghan wanted to reduce their royal duties and become financially independent.

The issue has dominated headlines in Britain over the last fortnight and culminated in a deal which means the couple will step down from their royal roles to spend most of their time in North America.

Meanwhile, William, 37, and Kate, 38, have continued with their official engagements, in keeping with the royals’ determination to carry on with business as usual.

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On Tuesday, William attended a meeting of the United for Wildlife Taskforces, which aims to tackle the illegal trade in animal products, while Kate was at Birmingham’s Science Museum to launch the survey, designed for people across the country to give their views about children’s early lives.

On Wednesday, she attended a baby sensory class and will then travel to talk to inmates at the prison.

“Parents, carers and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I want to listen to them,” Kate said at the launch.

The mother-of-three added: “As a parent I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children.”

The aim of the survey, which contains five short questions such as “What do you believe is most important for children growing up in the UK today to have a happy adult life”, is to provide a vital source of information and help bring about positive, lasting change, her Kensington Palace office said.

Writing by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison