Queen’s cousins called ‘imbeciles’ and declared ‘dead’ to keep them hidden

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It has been a few days to remember for Queen Elizabeth II as her 70-year reign was celebrated up and down the country, with Platinum Jubilee mania going into overdrive.

And while there have been many memorable momentsroyal fa for Her Majesty throughout her long period of rule, there have also been a few low points, one being the shameful scandal of her hidden cousins, who were seemingly erased from royal history.

The Queen Mother’s brother, John Herbert Bowes-Lyon, and his wife Fenella, had two daughters Nerissa and Katherine, who were cruelly described as imbeciles and were never able to be a part of the Royal Family.

First cousins to the Queen, they should have enjoyed more prominent roles in life, but both were born with severe learning difficulties and lived out most of their days in a mental health institution a few years after their father died in 1930.

Nerissa was born in 1919, while Katherine came along seven years later, and in 1941 they were reportedly sent from the family home in Scotland to Royal Earlswood Hospital at Redhill, Surrey.

While their exact diagnosis remains unknown, both women were said to be significantly handicapped and nonverbal.

The sisters were allegedly treated like they never existed by their extended family and were even recorded as having died years before they actually passed away, although this claim has always been denied.

Nerissa was listed in the 1963 edition of Burke’s Peerage as passing away in 1940, with Katherine dying in 1961.

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The truth, though, was a little different, with Nerissa reportedly living until 1986 while Katherine, who remained in the hospital until 1997 when it closed down amid abuse claims, reached the ripe old age of 87 before she finally died in 2014 in another home in Surrey.

Nerissa was reportedly buried in an unmarked grave, with her funeral allegedly only attended by hospital staff, while a 2011 documentary called The Queen’s Hidden Cousins alleged that the Royal Family never sent the sisters a birthday or Christmas card, nor ever visited them.

A niece of the two sisters, though, Lady Elizabeth Anson, issued a statement to the BBC on behalf of the Bowes-Lyon family saying that many family members had visited the sisters and “there was no attempt at a cover-up”.

Netflix series The Crown touched on the tragic story of the two siblings, where it was suggested that Nerissa and Katherine were kept hidden because there were worries that their condition could have threatened the social standing of the Royal Family.

The Daily Star has approached Buckingham Palace for comment.

  • Royal Family
  • Queen

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