Eugenie faces spinal surgery


Princess Eugenie is to have surgery on her back later this month, it emerged yesterday.

The 12-year-old, daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife the Duchess of York, is said to need an operation to correct a spinal defect.

Royal sources said they believe Eugenie is suffering from a curvature of one of her vertebrae.

Her parents are understood to be 'very upset and worried' about their daughter, while the Queen has asked to be kept informed of all developments.

Princess Eugenie, who is sixth in line to the Throne, is said to be 'very nervous' about the medical procedure.

Prince Andrew's spokesman at Buckingham Palace said: 'The princess will be having a minor operation on her back.

'The surgery is elective, not serious, and has been planned for the past year.'

The operation will take place at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, North London, of which the late Princess Diana was a former patron.

The hospital is known as a world leader in treating spinal injuries.

Prince Andrew visited the hospital four years ago to open a training centre for the Association for Spinal Injuries Research, Rehabilitation and Reintegration.

A spokesman for the Scoliosis Association, a support group for those who have curvature of the spine, said last night: 'It sounds as if the princess does not have too serious a problem.

'Some curvatures require rods to be inserted to give the spine extra support.

'But if in Eugenie's case it is indeed just a single vertebra that is affected, then it may not be necessary.

'There is no single cause for curvature and, although it is often congenital, sometimes it is just not known why it has occurred.'

Eugenie and her 14-year-old sister Beatrice spend much of their time at their father's Berkshire home, Sunninghill Park, near Ascot.

Their 42-year-old mother, the former Sarah Ferguson moved out of the one-time marital home in April.

But she regularly drives up to 30 miles a day with her daughters to 12-bedroomed Sunninghill, nicknamed 'Southyork', for their meals. Eugenie, a keen horse rider, is a pupil at St George's School, Windsor.

She is expected to take up a place at the £15,000 a year Marlborough College in Wiltshire, if she passes the entrance exams.

The Duchess has described her younger daughter as 'clever academically'.

She added: 'She appears lighthearted and easy. But she can surprise with her intensity, and is fearlessly candid.'

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