Princess Eugenie’s surgery ‘bombshell’
WITHOUT a veil, and an open-back dress, Princess Eugenie proudly showed off her scoliosis scar, as she walked down the aisle in October.
Now, speaking about the condition for the first time since her wedding, the Princess has revealed the trauma that came with getting that scar, and how she came to love it.
"I was only 1 years old when I was told I needed surgery and that bombshell left me reeling," she said.
"I think the most upsetting time was before the operation - the fear of the unknown and having a condition that made me different. Afterwards, I couldn't move for a while in hospital or when I came home.
"I had to wear a neck brace and be moved very gently in bed for a few months. That was very frustrating and I remember being angry about not being able to run and play."
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine and usually occurs just before puberty.
Mild scoliosis may not require surgery, though it should be monitored closely. In more severe cases, there can be lasting effects such as back problems, lung and heart damage and changes to appearance.
During the Princess's eight-hour operation, she had eight-inch titanium rods inserted into each side of her spine, and one-and-a-half inch screws at the top of her neck.
She now remembers the surgery as the turning point of her life.
The recovery meant Princess Eugenie had to wear a neck brace, after a while she grew frustrated not being able to play and run about. She worried she missed out on school and feared she wouldn't "be normal like other students".
But now, Princess Eugenie has drawn from her own experience to help others and is happy to display her scar for everyone to see.
She told The Telegraph how the surgery ultimately changed her.
"Your scars are a way of communicating, and sharing a trauma can be healing in so many ways," she said.
"It can release that stigma you might have given to yourself and by talking about it you can show people how they can heal, too."
Eugenie loves showing children her scar and seeing their faces light up with a smile, as the find comfort in the princesses story.
She specifically wanted her scar to be seen when she married Jack Brooksbank.
The Princess said she understands girls are now under so much pressure to look a certain way, especially with social media, but she says looks aren't all that important.
"You are defined by your heart and soul, not by the way you look," she said.
Following her wedding, people were inspired to share their own stories and photos of their scoliosis scars on social media.
Earlier this year, Eugenie publicly shared her X-rays for the first time in honour of International Scoliosis Awareness Day.
Eugenie is also a patron to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital's (RNOH) Redevelopment Appeal, a hospital that is special to her.
"Without the care I received at the RNOH I wouldn't look the way I do now; my back would be hunched over," Eugenie said. "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."