The brave princess not afraid to show her scars

Daily Mail - - EUGENIE’S MAGICAL DAY - By RE­BECCA ENGLISH Royal Cor­re­spon­dent

AS SHE stepped out of her Rolls Royce with the Queen Mother’s Gre­ville emer­ald tiara glit­ter­ing on her head, many pre­sumed the lit­tle- worn royal gem was the rea­son Princess Eu­ge­nie had cho­sen not to wear a veil.

But van­ity couldn’t have been fur­ther from the truth. The real rea­son was that the bride wanted to show off her most pre­cious fea­ture – the slen­der sil­ver scar on her back, left af­ter an eighthour op­er­a­tion to cor­rect sco­l­io­sis on her spine when she was 12.

It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary and brave pub­lic state­ment by Eu­ge­nie, but one that friends say is typ­i­cal of the Queen’s feisty but deeply com­pas­sion­ate grand­daugh­ter.

Eu­ge­nie had asked dress de­sign­ers, Peter Pilotto and Christo­pher De Vos, to cre­ate a gown with a low back that showed off the sym­bol of her life-chang­ing surgery in the be­lief that it will bring courage to oth­ers.

Sco­l­io­sis causes the spine to bend to one side, mak­ing the back ap­pear rounded and shoul­der blades stick out.

It mostly de­vel­ops in chil­dren aged ten to 15 and there is of­ten no known cause. Three to four chil­dren in ev­ery 1,000 need treat­ment from a spe­cial­ist.

The Sco­l­io­sis As­so­ci­a­tion UK says about five out of six peo­ple af­fected are fe­male. While surgery at any age is trau­matic, for teenage girls the vis­i­ble ef­fects can bring added an­guish.

The dress fea­tured an ex­tra low back ‘at the spe­cific re­quest of Princess Eu­ge­nie who had surgery aged 12’, Buck­ing­ham Palace con­firmed.

Eu­ge­nie had the op at the Royal Na­tional Or­thopaedic Hos­pi­tal and has de­scribed it as ‘a scary prospect for a 12-year- old’. She re­called: ‘Dur­ing my op­er­a­tion, which took eight hours, my sur­geons in­serted 8in ti­ta­nium rods into each side of my spine and one­and-a-half State­ment: Eu­ge­nie wears a low-backed dress with no veil inch screws at the top of my neck. Af­ter three days in in­ten­sive care, I spent a week on a ward and six days in a wheel­chair.’

Eu­ge­nie says she owes her abil­ity to walk tall to the hos­pi­tal and its staff, par­tic­u­larly her sur­geon, Jan Le­hovsky. She is now pa­tron of the hos­pi­tal’s rede­vel­op­ment ap­peal and staff were in­vited to join her big day, in­clud­ing Mr Le­hovsky.

The sur­geon told ITV News that Eu­ge­nie vis­ited the hos­pi­tal reg­u­larly and even shared her scars with the chil­dren. ‘She’s a real role model,’ he said.

In an in­ter­view ear­lier this week, which hinted at her in­ten­tion to wear a low-backed dress, Eu­ge­nie said: ‘It’s a lovely way to hon­our the peo­ple who looked af­ter me and a way of stand­ing up for young peo­ple who also go through this.

‘I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show peo­ple your scars and I think it’s re­ally spe­cial to stand up for that.’

Among the guests watch­ing yes­ter­day out­side the chapel was Andrew McNamee, whose daugh­ter Sadie, nine, is due to un­dergo surgery for sco­l­io­sis in Jan­uary.

The po­lice­man, 42, from Manch­ester, said: ‘She is a source of in­spi­ra­tion for my daugh­ter.

‘She has al­ways been into her princesses, but to have a real-life princess who is a source of in­spi­ra­tion is go­ing to help her through this time. That is ex­actly the dress my daugh­ter wanted to see to­day.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.