Princess Eugenie wanted her wedding dress to show her scoliosis scar

Nothing to hide.
Nothing to hide.
Image: Reuters/Toby Melville
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As is the case with most high-profile weddings, much of the buzz leading up to Princess Eugenie’s marriage to Jack Brooksbank—which took place yesterday at Windsor Castle—involved predictions about the wedding dress.

The gown, designed by UK-based label Peter Pilotto, turned out to feature a surprising design element: It prominently revealed the princess’s scar from a back operation she underwent for scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to misalign and make the back appear hunched.

Eugenie, who is the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, hinted at the choice in comments to ITV ahead of the nuptials: “I had an operation when I was 12 on my back, and you’ll see on Friday [at the wedding], but it’s a lovely way to honor the people who looked after me and a way of standing up for young people who also go through this.” (Scoliosis mostly affects those between the ages 10 and 15.)

Eugenie added that exposing the scar on her wedding day was also a way for her to address unrealistic beauty ideals: “I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars, and I think it’s really special to stand up for that.”

Her decision not to conceal the blemish is particularly intriguing considering how tightly the royal family tends to control its public image. While Eugenie and her sister Beatrice are known for their outlandish fashion choices, exposing her scarred back suggests a degree of liberalism that older generations of royals have shunned.

The Kensington Palace press team—which represents the entire royal family including the Queen herself—tends to promote an image of the royal family as perfect and unattainable. For instance, Kate Middleton stepping out in heels and a blowout hours after giving birth (paywall). It also typically steers clear of any whiff of drama or controversy, like refusing to comment throughout the entire saga of Meghan Markle’s controversial family drama, which began before her marriage to Prince Harry and continues to play out in the tabloids.

Indeed, royal wedding gowns have historically been fodder for the gossip mill. Most recently, in her wedding in May, Markle herself was criticized by commentators and laypeople for wearing a dress that looked “ill-fitting”—despite being the picture of perfection.

So, while simple, Eugenie’s gown was a powerful, almost subversive statement. A celebration of imperfection so rarely shown by the royal family is praiseworthy, and ultimately something the dated Palace could learn from.