UK health charity has Royal title approved by The Queen

Osteoporosis marks 25th anniversary since disease’s formal recognition

Sunday 23 September 2018

The National Osteoporosis Society, which has HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as its president, has had a rare Royal title approved by The Queen and today, announces its intention to be known as the Royal Osteoporosis Society in 2019.

Osteoporosis causes bones to lose their strength and break more easily. It is estimated to affect half of all women and one in five men, old and young; impacting mobility and causing unbearable agony. Osteoporosis doesn’t have any outward symptoms and the first sign is often a broken bone usually in the wrist or hip but most commonly in the spine.

The award of the Royal title is timely to acknowledge the 25th anniversary and landmark decision of the disease being formally endorsed and recognises the significant progress made since then. In 1994, thanks to the work of the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) and the European Foundation for Osteoporosis, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced an internationally recognised definition for osteoporosis. The definition gave a name and meaning to the pain and suffering that people knew they were experiencing but was not acknowledged.

Prior to this, people who may have lost height or changed body shape could meet many healthcare professionals without getting a diagnosis. With bones in their spine breaking, squashing and never returning to normal, or suffering from a broken bone from an everyday bump, those with osteoporosis had little understanding of their condition or what to do about it. While many people may have disabling pain, osteoporosis itself doesn’t cause pain. It is the effect of the broken bones on height and internal organs that can cause considerable, sometimes unbearable pain and suffering, or disability, and it is still not always diagnosed quickly.

The charity’s president, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, commented: “It's hard to believe that it was only 25 years ago that osteoporosis was given an official diagnosis. A diagnosis that finally put a name to the pain and ignominy that many thousands of sufferers have endured for so long. Osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of ageing and I believe that, by looking after our bones, we can make our later years healthier and happier.”

The charity’s chief executive, Claire Severgnini, says: “This is an incredible honour which marks a significant moment in osteoporosis and bone health history; recognising the contribution the charity has made over the past 30 years and confirming the charity as the home of osteoporosis and bone health.

“In 2019, we will set out our work programmes which support the charity’s new strategic direction. We want people to have the best possible bone health throughout their lives and provide hope by working towards a cure.

“We will continue to help more people receive a diagnosis quickly, provide support for those living with the condition and continue to influence policy and key decision makers so that the nation’s bone health is improved. As our ambition around a cure for osteoporosis unfolds we will be talking with more academics and researchers about innovations in bone health and our vision of a future without osteoporosis.”

Ambassadors of the charity include Miriam Margolyes, Susan Hampshire, Wendy Craig, Nerys Hughes, Diana Moran and Craig Revel Horwood. On the announcement Craig, said: “This ‘Royal’ news is simply fab-u-lous. I’m incredibly proud to be associated with the charity and to be able to raise awareness of osteoporosis and bone health. Only around a quarter of adults are familiar with the term osteoporosis – and let’s be fair it’s a tricky word to say let alone spell – but when half of all women and a fifth of men will break a bone due to osteoporosis it’s a word we should all try and learn.

“Healthy bones need weight-bearing exercise such as dancing so I’m going to celebrate this news with a cha-cha-cha darling and practice getting my tongue around those syllables … osteo-por-o-sis.”

Note to editors:

Contact the National Osteoporosis Society press office on 01761 473128 or email

  • Images of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and chief executive Claire Severgnini are available.
  • Images of healthy bones and those with osteoporosis are available
  • Interviews with chief executive Claire Severgnini can be arranged
  • Audio/ video – a soundbite of the Claire Severgnini quote above is also available
  • through a healthy bone and bone with osteoporosis at the top of the thigh bone (femoral head) to demonstrate the loss of bone density due to osteoporosis is available on Twitter @OsteoporosisSoc or Facebook @buildingstrongerbones, or via the press office., Twitter @OsteoporosisSoc, Facebook @buildingstrongerbones  #NOS #ROS

 The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) is the only UK charity dedicated to ending the pain and suffering caused by osteoporosis and believes in better bone health for everybody. It does this by caring for and supporting people living with the condition, delivering an extensive range of professional development for healthcare professionals, promoting good bone health to prevent osteoporosis and funding research to help those affected. The NOS has firmly established its position as the leading national patient group for people with osteoporosis. Through its large member base, NOS has led effective bone health advocacy campaigns and is a driving force in the promotion and development of fracture liaison services, in partnership with the NHS, across the UK.

Protected Royal title

A protected Royal title is different to a Royal Charter or Letters Patent. Neither Royal patronage nor a Royal Charter confers on an organisation the right to use the title ‘Royal’.

Permission to use the title ‘Royal’ is a mark of Royal favour granted by the Sovereign, acting on the advice of her Ministers.

The protected Royal titles are sparingly granted, and strict standards are applied.

World Health Organisation definition of osteoporosis

In 1994 the World Health Organisation gave the medical profession a standardised score (known as a T-score), comparing bone mineral density, an indicator or bone strength, to the average values for bone health. A score of -2.5 (minus) indicated osteoporosis compared to 0+ (zero or above depending on ethnicity, physical activity, genes.)

Full media feature backgrounder includes:

  • More facts about osteoporosis and bone health
  • HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s involvement with the National Osteoporosis Society; her first patronage, following the death of her mother in 1994
  • History of osteoporosis and bone health from Egyptian mummies and grave robbers to Coronation Street, Strictly Come Dancing and Star Wars
  • Quotes from people with osteoporosis – if you need a specific case study please contact the press office.