The "hidden" cousins of Queen Elizabeth
In 1987, British media found a sensation that temporarily eclipsed the family troubles of Charles and Diana.
It turned out that the mother’s niece’s nieces, Nerissa and Catherine Bowes-Lyon, did not die a long time ago, as the documents officially stated, and from the very youth they were kept in a closed mental hospital. Nerissa died shortly before the appearance of this newspaper sensation at 67 years of age.
The royal family has not officially commented on this news, referring to the fact that this is a private affair of the Bowes-Lyon family. Unofficially, as they say, close to the family, Queen Elizabeth considers all this a lie, and the article itself upset her very much. According to her, the Bose-Lyon family always took care of Nerissa and Katherine and regularly visited them.
The sisters' father was the brother of the Queen Mother, John Bowes-Lyon (John Bowes-Lyon 1886 - 1930). He and his wife Fenella (Fenella Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis (1889 - 1966) had four daughters. Two of them - Nerissa (1919 - 1986) and Catherine (1926 - 2014) - suffered from a severe degree of mental disability.
The public was shocked not by the fact of the inferiority of the sisters of Bose-Lyon, but by the fact that for their aunt, the queen mother, who is the trustee of the MENCAP (fund for the mentally ill), they had long since died.
Nerissa Bowes-Lyon in childhood:
Catherine Bowes-Lyon in childhood:
Instead of a coherent speech, the girls issued separate words or incomprehensible sounds, and their coordination of movement was also disturbed. Nerissa also showed an “unhealthy interest” in her body. In short, the girls were completely "non-salon" behavior. Therefore, Nerissa and Catherine were locked up and not taught anything. Their mental development remained at the level of four-year-olds.
Nowadays, they would be prescribed speech therapy and other therapy, and they were able to communicate at least somehow. But they were born in a time when mental disability was a shameful stigma, especially for an aristocratic family. The Bowes-Lyon family was very worried that having two “morons” could prevent their two other healthy sisters (Diana and Anna) from making good lots.
Diana Bowes-Lyon (1923 - 1986), married Peter Gordon Colin Somervell
Anna Bowes-Lyon (1917 - 1980), in the first marriage married to Viscount Anson, in the second - to Prince George Danish:
In 1941 (when their aunt Elizabeth was the queen for three years), Nerissa and Catherine were placed in the “house for idiots” - the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives hospital in Surrey.
According to the records of the hospital book, the last visits to the sisters by their relatives date back to the 1960s. At about the same time, the hospital’s financial support from the Bose-Lyon family ceased. And then the sisters were almost forgotten, no one even sent them postcards for Christmas or Easter. They walked, like all patients, in a green official dress.
Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives:
In the publication of the book of peers "Burke’s Peerage" for 1963, Nerissa and Catherine were considered dead (!) In 1940 and in 1961. The editor of the publication replied that he had received information about the death of the sisters from their mother, Lady Fenella Bowes-Lyon.
Nerissa, who died in 1986, was buried in the cemetery at the hospital. None of her family came to the funeral. On her grave was installed only a plastic plate with a number.
In 1997, Kathryn Bowes-Lyon was transferred to another medical facility.
Catherine Bowes-Lyon in the last years of his life:
In 2011, the British Channel 4 showed the documentary “Queen’s Hidden Cousins”. The film has an interview with the hospital staff. According to them, the Sisters Bowes knew about their origin.Their favorite entertainment was watching TV, especially they were interested in the news with the participation of members of the royal family. When they saw their cousin, the queen, on the screen, they made a curse in front of the television.
In February 2014, the Bose-Lyon family officially announced the death of 88-year-old Kathryn Bose-Lyon.
It also became known that the sister of Lady Fenella - Gariette - three of seven children were mentally deficient, and also daughters - Idonia (1912–2002), Rosemary (1914–1972) and Ethelred (1922–1996). And they, too, were kept in the same Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives hospital as their cousins Nerissa and Catherine.
Genetic professor David Danks (David Danks) suggests genetic diseases in the family of Fenella and Harriet Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, which are transmitted through the female line from mother to daughter.
P.S. I apologize for the expression "mental inferiority", I do not know their exact diagnosis.