Princess Eugenie: Expert on how royal has highlighted cause
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For many brides, what to wear on their wedding day is one of the most important decisions to make, including the colour, the style, and the length. But for Princess Eugenie, there was an extra factor at play. The Queen’s granddaughter had major surgery on her back to treat a curvature of the spine when she was 12. Sixteen years later in 2018, the Princess chose to wear a wedding dress that showed her scar, saying she hoped it would honour those who had helped her and inspire others with the condition of scoliosis.
The bride’s custom Peter Piloto dress featured a low portrait neckline, which dipped low in the back, showing a scar that stretched from the top of her neck to her shoulder blades.
She also wore her hair in an updo so the mark was not covered at all.
This was a marked contrast from other royal brides, who traditionally would wear very conservative dresses to reveal very little.
Wedding dresses worn by the Queen, Princess Anne, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle were all very traditional and did not show their backs.
However, Princess Eugenie became the first royal bride to do so and even teased the exposed back feature in an interview with ITV ahead of her nuptials.
She said: “I had an operation when I was 12 on my back, and you’ll see on Friday, but 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,” she told This Morning.
“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.”
Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to bend to one side, making the back appear rounded and shoulder blades stick out.
It most often starts in children aged 10 to 15 and is sometimes caused by bones not forming properly in the womb.
Three to four children out of 1,000 need treatment from a specialist.
The Scoliosis Association UK says about five out of six people with scoliosis are female.
In Princess Eugenie’s case, she required corrective surgery and had the operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
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In June 2018, she revealed for the first time her own X-rays from when she was treated for scoliosis as a child.
The Princess, now 31, had previously spoken of how she felt in the weeks before her surgery.
On the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital’s website, Eugenie said it was “a scary prospect for a 12-year-old; I can still vividly remember how nervous I felt”.
She continued: “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.
“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.”
Jan Lehovsky, a spinal surgeon who was part of the team who operated on the Princess, said: “Most of the patients affected by scoliosis are young girls and she’s a real role model for them.
“She’s someone who can inspire them, which is so important for the young ladies coming through the surgery.”
The Princess went on to be a patron of the hospital’s Redevelopment Appeal and have one of its facilities named after her.
She is also a royal patron of the European School of Osteopathy.
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