General Article Neglected, hidden away, registered dead: the tragic true story of the Queen’s disabled cousins

Topic Selected: Disabilities Book Volume: 393

An episode in the new series of The Crown sheds light on a little-known – and long-obscured – stain upon the Royal family’s reputation. 


By Susannah Goldsbrough

The Crown turns a colder eye on the Royal family this season than it has in any previous period. Two prominent new personalities – Diana, Princess of Wales and Margaret Thatcher – are thrust into the limelight, and the treatment they receive at the hands of “The Firm” will leave many viewers recoiling at the unkindness and snobbery.

But perhaps the most damning portrayal so far of the Royals by Crown writer Peter Morgan – who is usually sympathetic towards them – comes in the episode telling the story of Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon.

The third and fifth daughters of John and Fenella Bowes-Lyon – John being the elder brother of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – both women were born with severe developmental disabilities. Neither learned to talk. Their medical diagnosis is revealing of contemporary attitudes towards su...

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