The BBC’s Peter Hunt tweeted, “The Queen’s cousin, P Alexandra, has cancelled 11 engagements because she’s suffering from a common condition which affects some muscles.”
It is known that Princess Alexandra is suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica, a condition which causes inflammation of large muscles. It mainly affects people over the age of 65. It is rare in people under 50. About 1 in 1,000 people over the age of 50 develops PMR each year. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men.
The most common symptoms are stiffness, pain, aching, and tenderness of the large muscles around the shoulders and upper arms. Quite commonly the muscles around the neck and hips are also affected. The stiffness may be so bad that you may have difficulty turning over in bed, rising from a bed or a chair, or raising your arms above shoulder height (for example, to comb your hair).
A steroid medicine such as prednisolone is the usual treatment. Steroids work by reducing inflammation. Treatment usually works quickly, within a few days. After starting treatment, the improvement in symptoms over 2-3 days is often quite dramatic.
Princess Alexandra is a cousin to Her Majesty The Queen and is 42nd in line to the throne. She frequently performs engagements as a fully working member of the Royal Family.
Today would also have actually been her 50th wedding anniversary, though her husband, Sir Angus Ogilvy, died in 2004.