A cousin of Princess Margaret has denied that two of the Queen’s cousins Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, born with severe developmental and learning disabilities and engaged in an institution in their youth, have been ‘abandoned and forgotten’ , as the Netflix series describes. The crown.
However, David Bowes-Lyon, 73, was unable to explain why, in 1963, the family’s entry into Burke’s peerage, a guide to the British aristocracy, said the two women were dead. Bowes-Lyon, the Telegraph reports, “said he believed it was just a mistake.”
The annoying problem of false entry into Burke has already caused problems for the family. A niece of the sisters, Lady Elizabeth Anson, speaking after a 2011 documentary on women, The Queen‘s Hidden cousins, on which significant sections of The crown the account seems to be based, said their mother Fenella did not mean her daughters were dead. Anson said Fenella was “a very vague person” who had not fulfilled Burke’s peerage documentation “correctly or completely”.
The alleged misrepresentation of death due to excessive lack of precision has been repeated decade after decade in the annual editions of Burke until the existence of the sisters was reported in the media, to great amazement, in 1987.
Bowes-Lyon told the Telegraph far from being ‘abandoned’, the two women were visited ‘frequently’ at the Royal Earlswood Hospital in Redhill, Surrey.
In a statement made by Anson in 2011 after the documentary aired, she said Fenella “visited her daughters regularly” and that she “was the only person they recognized. Others visited, but it appears both women were distressed, if not terrified, by these visitors and the nurses kindly asked the family if they could be interrupted.
It seems the wish was easily fulfilled: Nerissa, who died in 1986, and Katherine, who lived until 2014, said nurses interviewed for the 2011 documentary had not had family visits for several decades at the time of Nerissa’s death. .
A nurse also alleged that the sisters, who were sent to Earlswood Asylum in 1941 four years after Edward VIII’s abdication put their family in the line of succession, received no gifts. or card on occasions such as birthdays.
“They never got anything on Christmas either, not a sausage,” the nurse said.
It is also common knowledge that when Nerissa died in 1986, she was buried in a grave marked only by a plastic tag with her name and a serial number. When the story broke a year later following an article in the British newspaper The sun, the family belatedly erected a gravestone.
In the new interview with the Telegraph, Bowes-Lyon is quick to label a storyline as fabrication in controversial Episode 7, which shows Margaret uncovering the fate of the cousins and carrying out a secret mission to verify them. He describes it as “a fiction claiming to be fact”.
He says he himself spoke to Margaret about Nerissa and Katherine several times and that she knew the truth about their situation. “We talked about it in discussions about parents in general, over dinner and over lunch. She knew exactly who they were and what had happened.
On that matter, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to doubt her account: there is no evidence Margaret (or any other senior royal) ever went on a secret mission to verify cousins.
The Daily Beast reported this week that Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s troubled younger sister, said she believes those involved in the show have a “moral responsibility” to stress. that the program was not factual.
The fact that Bowes-Lyon is speaking is a clear sign that the fourth season of The crown stepped into the establishment’s shoes in a way that the previous three series, which dealt with events of the 50s, 60s and 70s, did not.
Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, called on the series to issue a warning warning audiences that it is fictional. There has been speculation that his move was prompted by concerns within the palace.
Bowes-Lyon told the The telegraph of the day he was speaking out because the episode had caused “frustration” within the family and he was one of the few people able to say anything publicly.
“I’m probably the only family member who can say something publicly about this,” he said. “It’s harder for the royals, and the younger generation wasn’t there.
“I wouldn’t say the family is upset, but I think people are frustrated and would like the record to be clear. Members of the Royal Family are fairly immune to criticism, but in terms of the historical record people should know.
Bowes-Lyon added: “Regardless of the family connection, it’s important to make sure that history doesn’t see it as what actually happened.
“I wouldn’t like to see anyone in the future refer to this as the truth – and some people tend to think so.”
Katherine and Nerissa were the third and fifth daughters of John Herbert Bowes-Lyon, the older brother of the Queen Mother, and his wife, Fenella.
The crown depicts the Queen Mother saying the sisters should be locked out of sight because “their professionally diagnosed idiocy and foolishness would make people question the integrity of the lineage.”
In 1987, it was revealed that three other cousins of the Queen (daughters of Fenella’s sister) had been sent to the asylum on the same day as the sisters.
Bonham Carter said in a podcast that aired this week, “Katherine and Nerissa’s story is absolutely true. If Margaret had this feeling of empathy with them and if she didn’t know it, [I have] absolutely no idea. But Katherine and Nerissa and three other people were locked up and pronounced dead while alive.
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