Royal mother-to-be Princess Beatrice has spoken movingly about her experience of dyslexia – and says that if her unborn child is ‘lucky enough’ to be diagnosed with it, then she will see that as a ‘gift’.
The Queen’s granddaughter, 33, whose first child is due later this year, was herself diagnosed with the learning difficulty, which can affect reading, writing and spelling, when she was seven.
But while she had support from an early age, Beatrice says many children struggle undiagnosed.
Royal mother-to-be Princess Beatrice (pictured with husband Edo Mapelli Mozzi last week) has spoken movingly about her experience of dyslexia
The princess – seen at a lunch with friends in a floral jacket with her husband Edo Mapelli Mozzi last week – revealed in an interview with Hello! magazine that he also has the condition.
She also described her role as a stepmother to Edo’s son Wolfie, five, calling him her ‘bonus son’ – but admitted that home-schooling him during lockdown had been a challenge.
Beatrice was talking to author Giovanna Fletcher for Hello!’s Back to School digital issue, online now.
The Duke and Duchess of York’s daughter said that ‘if any child, any bonus son, or future babies that are on their way, are lucky enough to be diagnosed with dyslexia, I feel incredibly grateful to have tools such as the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity [that she’s patron of] to be able to tap into, to give them that extra support.’
She said: ‘My husband’s also dyslexic… but I really see it as a gift.’
Beatrice added: ‘I think life is about the moments, it’s the challenges that make you. Of course, I would never want there to be any difficult situations.
The Princess said that if her unborn child is ‘lucky enough’ to be diagnosed with it, then she will see that as a ‘gift’. Pictured: Beatrice with husband Edo Mapelli Mozzi last week
‘But I feel like if we’re able to embrace some of the tools that we have from the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity and other organisations, then I feel very, very lucky that we can have this conversation.’
Speaking about her step-son, Beatrice, who married her husband in a private ceremony at Windsor last year, said: ‘Homeschooling, that was definitely not my forte! Not going to lie. Sadly, I can’t blame that on dyslexia.
‘But I’ve felt very lucky to have had the chance to work with my bonus son (Wolfie) over the course of the school closures. It was a huge learning curve for all of us.’
Beatrice also spoke openly about her passion to increase understanding of dyslexia and de-stigmatise any negative associations with it.
The princess, who admitted that she struggled to understand why words appeared so ‘muddled’ before her diagnosis, said she hoped sharing her own story would help ‘shift the narrative’.
Beatrice also spoke openly about her passion to increase understanding of dyslexia and de-stigmatise any negative associations with it. Pictured: Beatrice and Edo at the Wimbledon Championships in July
‘I was very lucky that when I was first told that I had dyslexia, not one person around me ever made me feel like it was a ‘lesser than’ scenario. It was always about moving forward, it was always about what you could do. Never about what you can’t,’ she explained.
‘That’s something that’s really, really important to me. I find it very inspiring every day to talk about it. Because if you can just change one little idea in someone’s head, then you’ve done a great thing.
‘I think that having dyslexia and reflecting on where I am right now in my career path, and also as an older person looking back, it definitely has allowed me to look at things in a new way and come up with solutions.
‘I always describe it like being able to think in a circle. Yes, my spelling is appalling, and I wish that I could do something about that. But, luckily, spellcheck has sorted that out for me!’
Andy Cook, chief executive at Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, which supports more than a thousand children and adults with dyslexia each year, said: ‘It means the world to us that we have a Patron who is so closely involved with the charity, and so willing to talk candidly about her own personal experience of dyslexia.
‘Hopefully others will feel inspired to speak out about their dyslexia too, and to make the most of the gifts that dyslexia brings and to seek support if they are struggling with any challenges that can also arise. ‘
He explained that there is a tendency for dyslexia to run through families, adding: ‘There is an undoubted tendency for dyslexia to run in families, although sometimes it will skip a generation or be passed on to one sibling but not another.
‘Many of the children we see at Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity have parents who are also dyslexic, some of them only realising this when their children have been assessed.
‘For these families, home-schooling was not easy: dyslexic parents attempting to home school their dyslexic children was often something that did not go well.’