Princess Eugenie opens up about scoliosis surgery, says she has come to be 'very proud' of her scar
When the world watched Princess Eugenie walk down the aisle of St George’s Chapel in October, they saw more than just a happy bride
Princess Eugenie made for an absolutely beautiful bride, but when she walked down that aisle at St. George's Chapel in October, the world bore witness to one more thing apart from the wedding.
The princess had deliberately added a bare back to her Christopher de Vos and Peter Pilotto gown, with its folded neckline and full skirt, to show off, rather than hide, a scar as thick as a piece of string which runs neatly down her spine.
And all of a sudden, on her wedding of all other days, did everyone perceive how much the princess’s young life had been affected by her scoliosis diagnosis at the age of 11, both physically and emotionally. “I believe scars are like memories that tell a story on your body, that remind you how strong you had to be, and that you survived to talk about it,” Princess Eugenie said in a recent Telegraph interview.
She continued, “Your scars are a way of communicating, and sharing a trauma can be healing in so many ways. 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.”
Scoliosis is a painful condition that causes the spine to curve to the side at a significant degree. Its treatment is usually twofold: patients either wear a brace until they stop growing or undergo invasive surgery, where the spine is broken and set straight.
“I don’t think I actually thought: ‘Oh, I will have a scar’,” she said. “I was only 11 years old when I was told I needed surgery and that bombshell left me reeling, as well as the idea that I would not be at school, or be normal like the other students.”
As a kid, Eugenie was educated in and around the Windsor area, both at Upton House School, Coworth Park School, and St George’s School, which has a view of Windsor Castle. And at the time, the young princess was quite troubled by the idea of not being able to attend school as she recovered from her scoliosis surgery.
“There are so many emotions and worries that go thundering through your head,” she recalled, having wondered: “Will I be able to play sports, or will I look the same, or will I miss a lot of school and be behind?”
“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.”
Eugenie “went back to school eventually”, but revealed: “It was upsetting not to be able to do the normal things I loved but in terms of the condition – I always believed that if doctors and parents are telling you that you will be OK, as a young person, you have total faith in that, and they were right.”
For the Princess, at least in the beginning, she was “very closed” about her scar.
“But as I got older, I became very proud to show it to people who were going through the same thing,” she explained. “I remember going back to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and showing a little girl who couldn’t yet sit up from her operation. Her eyes grew so big and eventually, a huge smile lit up her face when she saw I had such a big scar and was standing up tall in front of her.”
And now, that scar is a symbol of something far greater. When meeting with her wedding dress designers, Eugenie specified that it was to be visible. “After one or two initial meetings where I said I wanted to show my back and scar, we had a fitting and in their first attempt at the shape and design of the dress, they got me and the vision in one,” she recalled. “From there, we realized that the back of the dress was the center point and a veil would take away from the scar and the beautiful design they had created.”
The Princess also expressed, “I think it’s hard to define exactly why there is pressure to look a certain way. I’m sure there are countless young girls going through that pressure right now, and all I would say is you are amazing as you are. You are defined by your heart and soul, not by the way you look.”
Her message remains simple: “Be proud of the story you can tell and inspire people with."