Why Princess Eugenie is inspired to “live fearlessly”, despite painful medical condition

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Kayleigh Dray
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Princess Eugenie has shared a beautiful tribute to her sister, Princess Beatrice – and thanked her for encouraging her to “live fearlessly”, despite her painful medical condition.

When she was a child, doctors informed Princess Eugenie that she needed an operation to correct a curvature in her spine.

Diagnosed with scoliosis, the royal had to undergo an eight-hour surgical procedure, later spending three days in intensive care before moving into a wheelchair. She has since made a full recovery.

However, speaking at the 2018 WE Day Charity Concert on Wednesday (7 March), Eugenie has admitted that she would never have found the strength to push forward if it weren’t for her sister, Princess Beatrice.

“As my big sister, you inspire me. I love that, as a team, we work hard to support each other – no matter what,” she said.

“When I was 12 I was diagnosed with, and treated for, scoliosis and I have lived with two 12-inch metal rods in my back. It could have impacted my life and stopped me from doing the things I love.

“You encouraged me not to get disheartened. Not to give up. To live fearlessly.”

Eugenie added: “Today, I am so lucky to get to work with and support other young women who are going through the same thing. To encourage them to not let their diagnosis win. To live fearlessly too.

“And today as sisters we stand here to support not only each other but all women.”

This is not the first time Eugenie has spoken about her battle with scoliosis: in April 2012, as part of a campaign with the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, she shared her story in a powerful video.

“During my operation, which took eight hours, my surgeons inserted eight-inch titanium rods into each side of my spine and one-and-a-half inch screws at the top of my neck,” she said at the time.

“After three days in intensive care, I spent a week on a ward and six days in a wheelchair, but I was walking again after that.”

Eugenie added: “Without the care I received at the RNOH I wouldn’t look the way I do now; my back would be hunched over. And I wouldn’t be able to talk about scoliosis the way I now do, and help other children who come to me with the same problem.

“My back problems were a huge part of my life, as they would be for any 12-year-old. Children can look at me now and know that the operation works. I’m living proof of the ways in which the hospital can change people’s lives.”

Scoliosis, according to the NHS, “is where the spine twists and curves to the side.”

Signs of scoliosis include:

  • a visibly curved spine
  • leaning to one side
  • uneven shoulders
  • one shoulder or hip sticking out
  • the ribs sticking out on one side
  • clothes not fitting well

Some people with scoliosis may also have back pain. This tends to be more common in adults with the condition.

You can find out more on NHS UK. Or, if you prefer, Scoliosis Association UK has more information about the different types of scoliosis.

Image: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.