Queen Camilla has shared how both her mother and grandmother died of osteoporosis and urged older people to get themselves checked. The Queen Consort described the bone disease as “devastating”, adding that her relatives suffered from the condition during a time when it was “rarely diagnosed” and “seldom discussed”. Her family’s struggle with the disease led her to open the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) in 2019, which has just launched an online questionnaire to help participants understand how likely they are to develop the condition.
Osteoporosis affects around 3.5 million people in the UK, weakening bones and causing them to break more easily. Two-thirds of the adults surveyed by the ROS said they’ve never thought about their bone health – even though just as many people die of fracture-related issues as diabetes and lung cancer.
In a statement Her Majesty said: “Both my grandmother and my mother died as a result of osteoporosis. At the time, the disease was seldom discussed, rarely diagnosed and was usually acknowledged as an unavoidable part of growing older.
“Now, thankfully, we know far more about the causes, symptoms and available treatments.”
Camilla went on to encourage older people to “discover the easy steps that we can all take to improve bone health throughout our lives”.
Meanwhile, other members of the Royal family have struggled with debilitating medical conditions, including Meghan Markle, Princess Eugenie and Mike Tindall.
Princess Eugenie has been open about her scoliosis diagnosis, ever since she was told she would need to have life-changing surgery to fix the curvature of her spine at the age of 12.
Two metal rods were inserted along her back and two 1.5-inch screws were fixed to her neck during the eight-hour procedure. After the surgery, Eugenie spent three days in intensive care, followed by a week on a ward and six days in a wheelchair, before finally she was able to walk again.
However, much like Camilla’s approach to osteoporosis, Eugenie’s approach to the disease has been to promote awareness, rather than to hide it away. The Princess proudly showed her scars from the operation on her wedding day in October 2018 when she chose to wear an open-backed gown.
In a recording for her wedding dress exhibition, she explained: “I had always wanted a low back, part of it was showing my scar and I believe scars tell a story about your past and your future and it’s a way of getting rid of a taboo. We started getting a lot of letters from people who were happy that I had stood up and showed my scar, and people with scoliosis, letters from girls that are going through the same thing, and I definitely was very touched by everyone’s support.”
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And Zara Tindall’s husband Mike Tindally has previously opened up about his father’s battle with Parkinson’s, which research shows can be passed on to children. The rugby star was speaking to raise awareness of the condition for the charity Cure Parkinson’s.
In an interview on Good Morning Britain, he said: “It’s a nightmare disease…there are over 40 different symptoms of what Parkinson’s can look like, the research that has come out [says] how many people feel that they are drunk, people can suddenly freeze in the middle of the street and you might upset somebody walking behind you… they just don’t get it.
“They don’t understand that that could be part of it so that’s the difficult part of it.”
He added that he was “probably very blasé” about it when his father first got diagnosed in 2003, saying he “didn’t really show signs”. He said that while his father had a tremor for “maybe a couple of years”, “being a typical bloke” he didn’t “address the issue early enough”.
Mike added: “He was good for a long period of time, ten years or so, but especially in the last year, but the last five years, you have seen it catch up on him.”