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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall Opens up About the Pain of Watching Her Mother Die from Osteoporosis

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Chris Jackson/Getty

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall spoke openly about the personal reason why she has been campaigning for greater support in the fight against osteoporosis during a special event on Tuesday.

In the middle of a downpour, guests were treated to the royal reception experience inside Clarence House (the event was originally meant to be an outdoor garden party), the official London residence Camilla shares with husband Prince Charles.

Celebrities and members of her family gathered together on Tuesday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a key charity in her life – the National Osteoporosis Society. It was the first one that she adopted as her life in the public eye grew in the years leading up to her marriage to Charles in 2005. Camilla s mother and grandmother suffered from the crippling illness.

Camilla, in a powder blue dress by Bruce Oldfield, was joined by her son, food writer Tom Parker Bowles, daughter Laura Lopes, and her sister, Annabel Elliott. Also in attendance was Charles s cousin, Lady Sarah Chatto and they, along with Downton Abbey creator Sir Julian Fellowes and actors Richard E. Grant and Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter series) listened as she spoke about her motivation for supporting the charity.

“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,” she said.

“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.

“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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She warned that there was still a “long way to go” – with three million people in the U.K. living with the condition. “One out of two women over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of it and I m sorry to say that men don t get away with it either,” she added. “One out of five of them will suffer a fracture too.”

Actor Richard E. Grant, who is set to film his role in Wolverine 3 alongside Hugh Jackman in New Mexico, told reporters, “The Duchess said [osteoporosis] affects one in five men and one in two women, so statistically you can t ignore it and there have been huge advances in the last 30 years, hopefully there will be more.”

Fellowes added, “The Duchess particularly has been fantastically helpful – the amount of publicity and interest she can generate has been really wonderful.”

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Miriam Margolyes, 75, who was diagnosed with osteoporosis of the spine 15 years ago, said: I m thrilled to have been asked to come – I just flipped when I got the invitation. It s absolutely wonderful here.

Chris Jackson/Getty

As they marked the 30th anniversary, the NOS launched a new campaign, #laceupforbones, which encourages supporters to wear bright orange shoelaces to raise awareness of the importance of exercise in the fight against the disease and Camilla was presented with a pair of $390 Dubarry boots, customized with bright orange laces, by the charity.