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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall Reflects on Mom's Osteoporosis Battle: She Was 'Shrinking Before Our Eyes'

·3-min read
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall hopes the story of her mother's battle with osteoporosis will be a warning to future generations.

To mark World Osteoporosis Day, Camilla spoke with Gloria Hunniford on BBC One's Morning Live about witnessing her mother Rosalind Shand's struggles with the disease, which weakens bones.

"My mother, I think, went to see everybody you could possibly think of and they all said the same thing — 'Sorry, you're old,' Camilla, 74, recalled. "We just watched her shrinking before our eyes."

Prince Charles' wife recalled that the disease got so bad that her mother, who died in 1994 at age of 72, "literally screamed" whenever she moved or was touched.

"I remember when a friend of hers came in one day just to give her a hug, her rib broke," she said. "It was as bad as that."

Camilla hopes that the next generations will realize that preventing the disease starts long before it presents itself.

"I think we all think we're immortal — don't we? — when we're young," she said. "I think I'd like to see more young people being educated. I'd love to see more young people understand it, not just thinking, you know, 'Poor old bats, we're going to get old and that's what's going to happen to us.' But actually understanding what actually happens and how they can prevent it."

Camilla added that she uses her mother's story as a warning to her children and grandchildren.

"I would show them pictures of my mother, before and after she got osteoporosis," she said. "I would make them look at photographs and say, 'Look, if you don't take care, that's what will happen to you.' "

Bruce Shand And Rosalind Cubitt
Bruce Shand And Rosalind Cubitt

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Camilla's parents, Bruce Shand and Rosalind Shand

Camilla, an ambassador of the Royal Osteoporosis Society, has made raising awareness about the condition one of the key focuses of her royal work.

"I became involved in it in 1994 after watching my mother stoically suffering the appalling pain and ignominy of this devastating disease, which in the end resulted in her early death at the age of 72," Camilla said at a Clarence House event in 2016.

"Back in those dark old days, my family was not alone in knowing next to nothing about osteoporosis. It was rarely discussed and seldom diagnosed and usually attributed to women of a certain age," she continued. "I was determined, for my mama's sake, to find out more and to find a way of helping others avoid the same excruciating pain and disregard that she, and many of her generation had encountered."

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Camilla recently embraced her age by attending an awards ceremony held by The Oldie magazine, which handed out prizes such as Oldie Champion Knitter of the Year and Truly Scrumptious Oldie of the Year.

Camilla quoted a poem about the disadvantages about growing old by John Sparrow, but added there are advantages too.

"Watching one's children growing up; enjoying one's grandchildren — knowing that they'll be going home after the visit; finding more time to read; finding time to read The Oldie — and coming to jolly lunches like this one," she said.

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