In recognition of World Parkinson’s Day, The Duchess of Gloucester and Mike Tindall – husband of The Queen’s granddaughter Zara – spoke about his father’s fight with the disease.
Mike is patron of the Cure Parkinson’s charity, while Birgitte is patron of Parkinson’s UK.
Due to the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on 9th April, release of the call was put on hold until now. The call was originally recorded on 7th April, just a few days after the birth of baby Lucas.
Although Mr. Tindall does not undertake royal engagements, he agreed to shed some light on the difficulties that have befallen not only the ill, but their carers as well, during the COVID pandemic. The rugby World Cup winner shared with the Duchess that both of his parents were on the vulnerable list and neither had left the house at all over the last year.
Diagnosed with the neurological disease in 2003, Philip Tindall’s condition has been very difficult for him during these last five years. Effects of this degenerative disease were even apparent almost 10 years ago at the wedding of Mike and Zara.
He told the Duchess: “What they’ve really missed out of this year is my mum’s missed companionship really of being able to go and see someone else because she doesn’t feel now that she’s comfortable leaving my dad alone.”
When discussing that time, the rugby player remembers: “It’s our 10 year wedding anniversary and it was that year that…. through his Parkinson’s, his spine in his back is obviously curved, and then it caused problems with his discs and then he had to have a wheelchair at the wedding. He could walk some bits of it.”
Over the last year, Philip has had to deal with a number of medical issues. He endured a back operation and colitis, which caused him to lose much of his strength.
The newest Tindall, Lucas, bears Philip as a middle name marking both Mike’s father and Zara’s grandfather.
Mike added that because of this, the change in his father’s health over the last 10 years has been huge. The ex-rugby pro said that the disease had generally progressed slowly before but now it seems faster.
Parkinson’s disease is now the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. The disease develops when cells in the brain stop working and not enough dopamine is produced because the brain cells have died. When the brain isn’t producing enough dopamine, movement of the body cannot be controlled. The most well known symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremors (shaking), slowness of movement and muscle stiffness (rigidity).
It is a progressive disease but if detected early, one can live a long and full life. As of now, there are over 145,000 people in the UK who are suffering from the effects of this disease.
Mike and Philip Tindall (Photo courtesy of Charconeurotech)
While discussing the toll that Parkinson’s takes on not only the patient but the caregiver as well, The Duchess of Gloucester stated that it is so very tough and it really affects the entire family – especially Mike’s mother, who is his father’s primary caregiver.
As is the case with many spouses, Linda Tindall is very reluctant to leave her husband’s care in anyone else’s hands. Her son expressed: “Yeah, we keep telling her that she doesn’t need to be that, but she’s a very stoic, northern lady who refuses to give her man up.
“And we’re trying to convince her that you’re not giving up your man, you’re just allowing the frustrating parts of it that, you know, get you sort of riled up, that someone else deals with and it also gives you a life.”
One touching exchange between the two was when Birgitte told Mike that it had really been lovely to talk to him and he replied: “I can’t wait to see you guys!”
Together they both praised everyone that was involved in working to find a cure for Parkinson’s and to everyone who supports people afflicted with this terrible disease.