Even though Princess Eugenie has worn her scoliosis scar with pride lately, it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, the newly-wedded royal opened up in a candid interview about what it was like being diagnosed with the spinal deformity when she was a young girl.

“I think the most upsetting time was before the operation,” Eugenie, 28, recently admitted to The Telegraph. “The fear of the unknown and having a condition that made me different… I was only 11 years old when I was told I needed surgery and that bombshell left me reeling, as well as the idea that I would not be at school, or be normal like the other students.”

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The operation, which involves the spine being broken just to be set straight, includes several months of recovery and the patient ultimately having to re-learn how to walk. After the operation, Eugenie found the long recovery process “frustrating,” she revealed. “I remember being angry about not being able to run and play.”

And even though her operation was almost two decades ago, she still deals with the effects to this day. “I remember putting cream only on my scar for years after the operation,” Eugenie admitted. “There was an unexplained feeling, like a kind of emptiness.”

However, over the years, Eugenie has turned her shame into pride. When she tied the knot with Jack Brooksbank on Friday, Oct. 12, she wore her scar with pride as she donned a gorgeous, open-back dress which showed off the large mark from the operation. The reason she made such a bold choice? “You are defined by your heart and soul, not by the way you look,” she said. “Be proud of the story you can tell and inspire people with.”

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The simple yet powerful choice she made to expose her beautiful scar moved many to tears, including her mother, Sarah Ferguson. Around the time of her daughter’s immaculate nuptials, the 59-year-old dished to Daily Mail her favorite part of Eugenie’s special day.

“My proudest moment was watching Eugenie standing tall, very proud to show her scoliosis scar in her low-backed dress,” Fergie said of Eugenie’s Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos-designed wedding gown. “I’d gone to all the fittings and sat there beaming with delight, and because there was no veil it was a very strong statement.” So sweet!

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