Princess Eugenie has only had a personal Instagram account since March (it launched on International Women's Day, appropriately), and she's already using it to effect change. No carefully filtered poolside snaps, arty shots through the plane window, or wistful #tbts beginning one hour after the girls' trip is over for Eugenie this summer. Instead, she took to IG on Saturday to post personal X-rays of the rods and screws in her spine and neck, revealing a health condition she's been dealing with since she was twelve: scoliosis. So what inspired Princess Eugenie's X-Ray Instagram post about scoliosis?
Well, June 30 was International Scoliosis Awareness Day, a fitting day for Eugenie to discuss her work with the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where she was treated in her childhood. The Princess announced that she's a patron of the hospital's redevelopment appeal — the hospital operates partially out of WW2 era huts — and shared her own scoliosis treatment journey. "I'm living proof that all these young people who have the same thing I have, maybe more so, or not, I have done it, I've been through it, and I want to be able to help as much as I can," says Eugenie, in a video shared by the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Appeal.
On the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital website, Eugenie revealed the intense details of the corrective surgery she underwent for her scoliosis, at only twelve years old. "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," she wrote. "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."
The accompanying video, meanwhile, offers a cute anecdote feat Eugenie's mum, Fergie (or Sarah, Duchess of York, if we're being proper about it.) In the video — also featuring Eugenie's dad, Prince Andrew — Eugenie says, "I remember I came out of my operation, and I said, 'Water, please!' and my mum said, 'This is the only time you don't need manners!'" Honestly, couldn't that exchange be lifted straight from The Princess Diaries?
This isn't actually the first time Princess Eugenie has detailed her scoliosis battle: for her inaugural Instagram post, she shared a clip from the charity event WE Day, back in March, where she spoke at Wembley Arena alongside big sister Princess Beatrice. "You encouraged me not to get disheartened, not to give up. To live fearlessly!" Eugenie says to her sister, reflecting on her childhood struggle.
"Today, I'm so lucky to get to work with and support other young women who are going through the same thing," she adds. "To encourage them to not let their diagnosis win. To live fearlessly too."
Princess Eugenie's latest post about scoliosis has a more specific goal: to support the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Appeal's fundraising target of £15 million. According to their website, the hospital currently comprises "a series of 100-year-old buildings and a collection of Portakabins and Nissen huts which date back to the Second World War", and is raising money for a new and improved inpatient ward block.
Of a recent visit to the hospital, Eugenie wrote, "I was also reminded of the rather run-down condition of the hospital. There is a very striking disparity between the quality of the RNOH’s service and the quality of the buildings from which its staff operate. Anyone who visits the Stanmore site can see immediately why a new hospital is needed so urgently."
It's difficult to imagine a higher profile patron than a member of the Royal Family, so let's hope Eugenie's story helps the hospital reach its target. But beyond that, Eugenie's Instagram post helps to demystify a condition that three to four out of every 1,000 UK children require treatment for, according to the NHS, and focuses a spotlight on women's health. I'm starting to wonder whether I should stop Instagramming my dinner.