The new series brings many royal secrets – including the cousins of Queen Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon.
Nerissa was born in 1919 and her younger sister Katherine in 1926, both daughters of minor aristocrat John Bowes-Lyon, brother of Elizabeth, later Queen Mother.
It is believed that the sisters’ symptoms were the result of a genetic condition not in the Bowes-Lyon line, but that of his wife Fenella.
Katherine and Nerissa had three cousins with the same disabilities – they were Edonea, Rosemary and Etheldreda – daughters of Fenella’s sister, Harriet.
The Crown examines how the two sisters were recorded as dead and hidden from the world at the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives – cruelly known as the National Asylum for Idiots – in Redhill, Surrey, after being born with mental disorders ‘learning.
They remained there for most of their long lives until Nerissa died at the age of 66 in 1986.
She is believed to have remained at the facility until 1997 when it closed due to complaints of abuse and then lived in another house in Surrey.
Although the sisters wore the institution’s standard clothing, they were allowed to change if they had visitors.
In season four, Princess Margaret is seen asking a friend, Priest Dazzle Jennings, played by Tom Burke, to visit the asylum where they live.
Upon his return, he tells her in tears about the bedside trinkets they have with their royal cousins.
The fourth season is set in the 1980s and sees Princess Margaret, played by Helena Bonham Carter, go into a rage when she finds out about the plight of the sisters.
Shouting at the Queen Mother, she said, “Locked up and neglected. They are your nieces – your favorite brother’s daughters.
“It’s mean and ruthless, it’s cruel and very much in keeping with the cruelty that I myself have experienced in this family.
“If you’re not on the front lines, if you’re an individual character with individual needs or, God forbid, an irregular temper. . . then you will be spat, or you will be hidden or worse: declared dead.
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The Crown, Queen Elizabeth II, Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, British Royal Family, John Bowes-Lyon
EbeneMagazine – US – The tragic cousins of the queen locked in the asylum and who are said to have died by the royal family