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Camilla shares experience of crippling bone disease

Duchess opens up on condition that devastated her family while on Oz tour

The Duchess of Cornwall opened her heart yesterday about how osteoporosis devastated her family as she highlighted the fight against the debilitating condition in Australia.

I watched my mother and grandmother die of the disease and no one knew what it was

Camilla described how she watched her mother and grandmother die from the crippling bone disease as she addressed a leading charity in Melbourne.

The Duchess of Cornwall said she was determined to bring attention to the crippling bone disease during her first trip Down Under, part of a tour by royals to Commonwealth countries to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.

Her mother lost about 20 centimetres in height and became so bent she was unable to digest her food properly before she died at 72 in 1994.

Camilla told her audience at Government House, Melbourne: “I watched my mother and grandmother die of this disease and no one knew what it was.

“But since then the research has gone from strength to strength and they’ve made huge strides in the UK as you are here (in Australia). To unite with all of you today is so important, to get the message worldwide to people that it can be prevented.”

Almost three million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis while in Australia the figure is 1.2 million.

The Duchess made her first public speech on the disease in 2002 at the World Congress on Osteoporosis in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Duchess, who is president of the National Osteoporosis Society in the UK, stressed all people had to be aware of the disease.

“It’s not just the women, it’s the men as well, sometimes I think they’ve gotten away with it but they are affected, and young people,” she said.

“Also the message I’d love to get over is to make young people aware of how important it is in their teenage years to take exercise, to eat properly, to not diet too strongly because it will catch up with you as you get older.”

Beryl Logie, president of the Melbourne osteoporosis support group, told reporters she spoke to the duchess about losing her own mother to the condition.

“I said we have a lot in common. I know what it’s like to watch your mother suffer from fractures and you can’t do a thing about it,” she said.

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