An invitation to a royal wedding is always a coveted invite. For one surgeon in the U.K., it’s also a “thank you” for a job well done 14 years ago.
That was when orthopedic spinal surgeon Jan Lehovsky from the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore performed corrective surgery on Princess Eugenie. Now 28 years old, the princess is marrying her longtime partner Jack Brooksbank on Oct. 12 and she has extended invitations to her surgeon and others from his team.
Princess Eugenie was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 12. Scoliosis causes the spine to curve or twist to one side, resulting in uneven posture. If left untreated, it leads to back pain, fatigue and pain to the nerves and joints.
In an article on the RNOH charity website, Princess Eugenie shared her warm memories of the medical staff:
“I can still vividly remember how nervous I felt in the days and weeks before the operation. But my abiding memories of the RNOH, where the surgery was carried out, are happy ones — everyone there was so warm and friendly, and they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and relaxed.”
She explained that during an eight-hour surgery, doctors inserted two titanium rods into her spine, as well as two screws into her neck. She spent three days in intensive care, a week in the hospital and six days in a wheelchair.
In June, she shared an X-ray of her spine on Instagram and thanked the RNOH publicly for their work:
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Today is International Scoliosis Awareness Day and I’m very proud to share my X Rays for the very first time. I also want to honour the incredible staff at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital who work tirelessly to save lives and make people better. They made me better and I am delighted to be their patron of the Redevelopment Appeal. To hear more of my story visit http://www.rnohcharity.org/the-appeal/princess-eugenie-s-story @the.rnoh.charity #TheRNOHCharity #RedevelopmentAppeal #RNOH #NHS
The Duchess of York, who is the princess’ mother, told the Evening Standard that the doctors were invited “in honor of the fact that she is walking up that aisle with a straight back because of them.”
The duchess continued, “[Eugenie] did have what would have been very serious curvature of the spine. She certainly will be an extraordinary example of great work from the RNOH.”
The duchess said she hoped her daughter’s successful surgery would provide “hope for other children suffering from scoliosis.”
Princess Eugenie is the second daughter of the Duke of York, also known as Prince Andrew (who is Queen Elizabeth’s second child). Princess Eugenie is ninth in line for the throne.
Brooksbank, whom she met on a ski trip in Verbier, Switzerland, in 2010, is from a wealthy British family. He worked as a waiter in a cocktail bar when the couple met, and he later went on to run a night club.
The pair became engaged in Nicaragua in January 2018
The happy couple will wed at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, located outside of London.
Back in May, Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle at the same location. (Prince William, a future king, was married at Westminster Abbey in London, which is a much larger church.) Like her cousins’ weddings, Princess Eugenie’s nuptials will be broadcast on TV.
In addition to 800 invited guests, including her former surgeon, 1,200 members of the British public were able to enter a lottery to watch the wedding on Windsor grounds.