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The Queen's Cousin Blasts Asylum In The Crown As "Fantasy"


A cousin of the Queen criticized an episode of The Crown, calling it "fiction that pretends to be a fact".

David Bowes-Lyon, 73, said an episode about two of the Queen Mother's nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, caused "frustration" in the family.

His comments come after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said viewers of a multi-million pound Netflix drama should be told at the beginning of each episode that some scenes are fictional.

The Queen's cousin, David Bowes-Lyon (pictured together in 2017), 73, has criticized an episode of The Crown, calling it "fiction that pretends to be a fact".

In the seventh episode, set in the 1980s, Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter, pictured above) stumbles upon the existence of the Queen Mother's nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, and is appalled by their treatment

In the seventh episode, set in the 1980s, Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter, pictured above) stumbles upon the existence of the Queen Mother's nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, and is appalled by their treatment

Nerissa and Katherine were born with severe learning difficulties. The Netflix conspiracy suggests they were recorded dead shortly after birth and locked in an institution with little contact with the royal family.

In the seventh episode, set in the 1980s, Princess Margaret stumbles upon her existence and is appalled by her treatment.

Mr Bowes-Lyon, whose father was a first cousin of the Queen Mother, told The Daily Telegraph that the plot was "total fantasy" and that he had spoken to Margaret several times about Nerissa and Katherine.

"She knew who they were in every way," he said. "It is completely wrong to say they were forgotten and certified as insane."

In 1963, the family's entry in Burkes Peerage stated that both daughters were dead, which Mr. Bowes-Lyon believed was a mistake.

The fourth season of The Crown tells the tragic story of the & # 39; hidden & # 39; Queen Katherine's cousins ​​(pictured) and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon who have been incarcerated and neglected in an institution

The fourth season of The Crown tells the tragic story of the Queen's "hidden" cousins, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon (pictured), who were locked up and neglected in an institution

The fourth season of The Crown tells the tragic story of the "hidden" cousins ​​of Queen Katherine (left) and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon (right), who were incarcerated and neglected in an institution

The two sisters were the Queen Mother's nieces; Her father, John Bowes-Lyon, was her brother and made her the Queen's first cousins

The two sisters were the Queen Mother's nieces; Her father, John Bowes-Lyon, was her brother and made her the Queen's first cousins

The couple stayed in the asylum for most of their lives and were reportedly rarely visited and recorded as dead. Pictured: Katherine Bowes-Lyon

The couple stayed in the asylum for most of their lives and were reportedly rarely visited and recorded as dead. Pictured: Katherine Bowes-Lyon

Mr Bowes-Lyon also said the two women were not "abandoned" and "frequently" visited at the Royal Earlswood Hospital in Redhill, Surrey.

In The Crown, the two can be seen in their sixties, watching their cousin Queen Elizabeth II arrive at the Royal Variety Performance on television.

They cuddle dolls, stand for the national anthem and say hello before they are treated with medication by a nurse.

Helena Bonham Carter's character, the lively Princess Margaret, passionately expresses her disgust at her harrowing treatment after discovering her plight.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's Helena Bonham Carter's character, the lively Princess Margaret (pictured), who passionately expresses her disgust at her harrowing treatment and who goes mad at the Queen Mother, played by Marion Bailey

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's Helena Bonham Carter's character, the vivacious Princess Margaret, who passionately expresses her disgust at her harrowing treatment and who gets enraged at the Queen Mother, played by Marion Bailey (pictured).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is Helena Bonham Carter's character, the lively Princess Margaret, on the left, who passionately expresses her disgust at her harrowing treatment and who is enraged with the Queen Mother, played by Marion Bailey (right).

She flies angrily at the Queen Mother (played by Marion Bailey) and yells, “Locked up and neglected. They are your nieces – daughters of your favorite brother.

“It is nasty and cold-hearted and cruel and fully corresponds to the ruthlessness that I have experienced myself in this family.

“If you are not in the first place, if you are an individual character with individual needs, or, God forbid, an erratic temper … then you will be spat out or you will be hidden, or worse, declared dead. Darwin had nothing on you – shame over all of you. & # 39;

Trying to defend the cruel moves, Bailey's Queen Mother tells Princess Margaret: “I have become queen from being the wife of the Duke of York, who led a relatively normal life.

At the same time, my family, the Bowes-Lyons, went from underage Scottish aristocrats to a direct bloodline to the Crown, resulting in my brother's children paying a terrible price.

“Their illness, their stupidity – their professionally diagnosed idiocy and stupidity – would make people question the integrity of the bloodline.

“Can you imagine the headlines when they come out? The idea that only one family has the automatic birthright to the crown is already so difficult to justify that the gene pool of this family is better to be 100 percent pure.

"There have been enough examples on the Windsor side alone to worry people. If you add the Bowes-Lyon diseases, they run the risk of becoming untenable."

In an interview with The Crown: The Official Podcast earlier this year, Bonham Carter said The Crown had a "moral responsibility" to remind viewers that it was a drama, not a documentary.

The sisters were secretly taken by their parents to the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defects in Redhill, Surrey (pictured) in 1941, cruelly dubbed the National Asylum for Idiots

The sisters were secretly taken by their parents to the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defects in Redhill, Surrey (pictured) in 1941, cruelly dubbed the National Asylum for Idiots

John Bowes-Lyon, pictured above in 1923, was the second son of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

John Bowes-Lyon, pictured above in 1923, was the second son of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

Speaking of the episode, she said the story of Nerissa and Katherine was "absolutely true", but did not know "whether Margaret had this feeling of empathy with them and whether she knew nothing about her cousins ​​beforehand".

Last week, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the Crown viewers should be told at the beginning of each episode that some scenes on the series were fictional.

Without warning, he said, "A generation of viewers who have not witnessed these events may mistake fiction for fact."

Tragic story of the Queen Mother's nieces with severe learning disabilities who were locked up in an asylum and neglected after being reported dead

Nerissa was born in 1919 and Katherine in 1926. Her father was John Bowes-Lyon, one of the Queen Mother's older brothers and a son of the Earl of Strathmore. John died in 1930 and was survived by the girls' mother, Fenella, until 1966.

The sisters were unhappy to have been born at a time when intellectual disability was seen as a threat to society and associated with promiscuity, rash discipline, and petty crime, which are characteristics of the lower class. Associations promoted by the popular belief in the science of eugenics and soon to be adopted by the Nazis.

For the Bowes-Lyons, this was a stigma that could compromise their social standing and the marital prospects of their other children.

The beautiful and healthy sister of Nerissa and Katherine, Anne, became a Princess of Denmark through their second marriage. In her first marriage, she was Viscountess Anson and mother of the society photographer, the late Lord Lichfield.

Her admission to the institution was also deemed necessary when her aunt Elizabeth married future King George VI in 1923.

The admission of Katherine and Nerissa to the institution was deemed necessary when their aunt Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (pictured with her daughters Elizabeth and Margaret in 1937) married future King George VI in 1923

The admission of Katherine and Nerissa to the institution was deemed necessary when their aunt Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (pictured with her daughters Elizabeth and Margaret in 1937) married future King George VI in 1923

The Duke of York, later King George VI, with his wife Elizabeth, then Duchess of York, and their daughters Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret

The Duke of York, later King George VI, with his wife Elizabeth, then Duchess of York, and their daughters Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret

Unable to speak due to their condition, the sisters were secretly taken by their parents to the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Illness in Redhill, Surrey, in 1941 at the ages of 15 and 22 respectively.

They remained in what was cruelly referred to as the "National Asylum for Idiots" for most of their lives, and were reportedly rarely visited and recorded as dead.

The sisters' symptoms are believed to be due to a genetic disorder found in their mother's bloodline, not Des Bowes-Lyon.

Although the Queen Mother knew that the statement in Burke's Peerage that both women had died (released after her mother provided false information) was not true, she reportedly did not visit either.

A newspaper claimed in 1996 that the Queen Mother was unaware of her existence until she received a letter from the institution's Friends League in 1982.

After that, she allegedly sent a four-digit amount to fund Christmas and birthday gifts for the couple – but there's no evidence the royals visited.

The Netflix drama suggests the queen swallowed the line, that the sisters were dead. It's not clear when she discovered the truth, but according to a Channel 4 documentary in 2012, she was upset about suggestions she'd given up.

The shocking story of her incarceration came to light shortly after Nerissa's death when journalists discovered she was buried in a grave marked only with a plastic nameplate and serial number

The shocking story of her incarceration came to light shortly after Nerissa's death when journalists discovered she was buried in a grave marked only with a plastic nameplate and serial number

It is also unknown whether Princess Margaret found out about her cousins ​​and confronted her mother; It is certainly unlikely that she was told of her plight by her therapist, as is the case with The Crown.

Katherine and Nerissa had three cousins ​​at The Royal Earlswood – Edonea, Rosemary, and Etheldreday, the daughters of Fenella's sister Harriet – who shared their disabilities.

When Charles and Diana married in July 1981, Katherine and Nerissa are said to have excitedly watched the ceremony on television.

Nerissa died in 1986 at the age of 66. The shocking story of her incarceration came to light shortly after her death when journalists discovered she was buried in a grave marked only with a plastic nameplate and serial number.

The ensuing scandal, which led an anonymous source to provide Nerissa with a tombstone, had little impact on her sister's life.

Katherine had no visitors to the asylum, and when her aunt the Queen Mother lived to old age, at least until her final years there, she did not even have her own underwear and had to change from a communal wardrobe.

Katherine died six years ago at the age of 87. The Royal Earlswood was closed in 1997; At least one former nurse has alleged that patients were ill-treated. The grandiose building has since been converted into luxury apartments.

Years later, Onelle Braithwaite, one of the nurses who looked after her, remarked, "I remember thinking with my colleague about how, if things had been different, they would certainly have been guests at the wedding."

In the Channel 4 documentary, she added, "Today they would probably be receiving speech therapy and they would be communicating much better."

“You understood more than you think. It was so sad. Just think of the life they might have had. They were two beautiful sisters. & # 39;

History of the Royal Earlswood Hospital in Surrey

The hospital was designed by William Bonython Moffat and built by John Jay

The hospital was designed by William Bonython Moffat and built by John Jay

The Royal Earlswood Hospital, formerly The Asylum for Idiots and Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives in Redhill, Surrey, was the first to specifically care for people with developmental disabilities. Before that, they were either housed in mentally ill institutions or in workhouses.

Ann Serena Plumbe was interested in the plight of the learning disabled, or "idiots" as they were then known, and in 1847 began to discuss what could be done to help them.

In discussions with Dr. John Connolly (from Hanwell Asylum) and Rev. Dr. Andrew Reed (philanthropist and founder of several orphanages) they decided to raise such people.

A building known as the Park House in Highgate was purchased in March 1848 and its first patients were admitted the following month, but it soon grew too small and a purpose-built facility was put into operation, with Queen Victoria donating 250 guineas on behalf of the Prince of Wales who became a lifetime member.

The hospital was designed by William Bonython Moffat and built by John Jay. Prince Albert took a particular interest and laid the foundation stone in June 1853 and opened it two years later.

It received a royal charter in 1862 and was renamed the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives in June 1926.

John Langdon Down (after whom Down syndrome was named) was the hospital's medical superintendent from 1855 to 1868.

The hospital joined the National Health Service in 1948 but went into a period of decline after the introduction of community care and was closed in March 1997.

The site was redeveloped for residential use and is now known as Royal Earlswood Park.

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