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British RoyalsPrince Charles and Camilla

The Duchess of Cornwall speaks movingly of her mother’s illness

Photo via Clarence House

The Duchess of Cornwall sat down for an interview with BBC One’s Morning Live to mark World Osteoporosis Day to discuss osteoporosis and the effects it has had on her mother and grandmother.

Speaking with presenter Gloria Hunniford, Camilla recalled taking her mother to doctors, who blamed old age for any conditions, and who would sometimes scream in pain if touched. She said, “I remember when a friend of hers came in one day just to give her a hug, her rib broke. It was as bad as that.”

Camilla’s mother, Rosalind Shand, passed away in 1994 from complications from osteoporosis; her grandmother, Sonia Keppel, passed away in 1986 from the disease as well.

Camilla spoke candidly about working to educate young people about the debilitating bone disease and her work with the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

She told Hunniford, “I think one of the most interesting points is getting this knowledge out to young people. You have young people in your family, do you worry about them? Do you get that message across, or are they prepared to listen?”

Camilla said about her grandchildren’s generation that she would “show them pictures of my mother, before and after she got osteoporosis. I would make them look at these photographs and say, look, if you don’t take care, that’s what will happen to you!”

The Duchess told Hunniford, “The thing about osteoporosis is you can prevent it, but you can’t cure it. You have to prevent it by taking a look at yourself and saying: ‘I don’t want to have this disease.’ You must take a lot of exercise, walking in particular.

“I think we all think we’re immortal when we’re young. I’d like to see more young people being educated and being more understanding about it. Not just thinking ‘poor old bats’, but actually understanding what happens and how they can prevent it.”

In 2001, Camilla became the President of the then-National Osteoporosis Society and has maintained ties to the charity since 1994, when her mother passed. In 2018, the Society received royal designation from Queen Elizabeth II.

An award in her name—The Duchess of Cornwall Award—recognises individuals who contribute to the field of osteoporosis through research, clinical advancements, voluntary actions, or other supportive ways to advance research of this condition.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.