Queen’s cousin destroys asylum plot in The Crown as ‘fantasy’


Queen’s cousin blows The Crown on ‘fantasy’ plot about monarch’s relatives ‘certified crazy’ and left to rot in mental institution – says it caused ‘frustration’ in the family

A cousin of the Queen has criticized an episode of The Crown, calling it ‘fiction pretending to be fact’.

David Bowes-Lyon, 73, said an episode about two of the Queen Mother’s nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, had caused ‘frustration’ in the family.

His comments come after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said viewers of millions of dollars worth of Netflix drama should be told at the beginning of each episode that some scenes are fictional.

Queen's cousin David Bowes-Lyon (pictured together in 2017), 73, has criticized an episode of The Crown, calling it 'fiction pretending to be fact'

Queen’s cousin David Bowes-Lyon (pictured together in 2017), 73, has criticized an episode of The Crown, calling it ‘fiction pretending to be fact’

In episode seven, set in the 1980s, Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter, pictured above) comes across the existence of the Queen Mother's nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, and is shocked by their treatment.

In episode seven, set in the 1980s, Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter, pictured above) comes across the existence of the Queen Mother's nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, and is shocked by their treatment.

In episode seven, set in the 1980s, Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter, pictured above) comes across the existence of the Queen Mother’s nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, and is shocked by their treatment.

Nerissa and Katherine were born with serious learning difficulties.

The Netflix plot suggests that they were registered as dead shortly after birth and locked up in an asylum with little contact with the royal family.

Set in the 1980s, in Episode Seven, Princess Margaret stumbles upon their existence and is shocked by their treatment.

But Mr Bowes-Lyon, whose father was the Queen Mother’s first cousin after he was taken away, told The Daily Telegraph that the storyline was ‘complete fantasy’ and that he had spoken to Margaret about Nerissa and Katherine on several occasions.

Season 4 of The Crown tells the tragic story of the Queen's 'hidden' cousins, Katherine (pictured) and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, who were locked up in an asylum and neglected.

Season 4 of The Crown tells the tragic story of the Queen's 'hidden' cousins, Katherine (pictured) and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, who were locked up in an asylum and neglected.

Season 4 of The Crown tells the tragic story of the Queen's 'hidden' cousins, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon (pictured), who were locked up in an asylum and neglected.

Season 4 of The Crown tells the tragic story of the Queen's 'hidden' cousins, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon (pictured), who were locked up in an asylum and neglected.

Season 4 of The Crown tells the tragic story of the Queen’s ‘hidden’ cousins, Katherine (left) and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon (right), who were locked up in an asylum and neglected.

The two sisters were the Queen Mother's nieces;  their father John Bowes-Lyon was her brother, making them the queen's first cousins

The two sisters were the Queen Mother's nieces;  their father John Bowes-Lyon was her brother, making them the queen's first cousins

The two sisters were the Queen Mother’s nieces; their father John Bowes-Lyon was her brother, making them the queen’s first cousins

The sisters were secretly housed in the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives, cruelly called The National Asylum for Idiots, in Redhill, Surrey (pictured) by their parents in 1941

The sisters were secretly housed in the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives, cruelly called The National Asylum for Idiots, in Redhill, Surrey (pictured) by their parents in 1941

The sisters were secretly housed in the Royal Earlswood Institution for Mental Defectives, cruelly called The National Asylum for Idiots, in Redhill, Surrey (pictured) by their parents in 1941

“She knew who they were in every way,” he said.

“It is completely wrong to say they have been forgotten and certified as crazy.”

In 1963, the family stated in Burke’s Peerage that both daughters were dead, which, according to Mr Bowes-Lyon, was simply a mistake.

Bowes-Lyon also said the two women were not ‘abandoned’ and visited ‘often’ at the Royal Earlswood Hospital in Redhill, Surrey.

The couple stayed in the institution for most of their lives and were hardly visited and recorded as dead, according to reports.  Pictured: Katherine Bowes-Lyon

The couple stayed in the institution for most of their lives and were hardly visited and recorded as dead, according to reports.  Pictured: Katherine Bowes-Lyon

The couple stayed in the institution for most of their lives and were hardly visited and recorded as dead, according to reports. Pictured: Katherine Bowes-Lyon

John Bowes-Lyon, pictured above in 1923, was the second son of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

John Bowes-Lyon, pictured above in 1923, was the second son of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

John Bowes-Lyon, pictured above in 1923, was the second son of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne

In an interview with The Crown: The Official Podcast earlier this year, Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, said the Crown had a “moral responsibility” to remind viewers that it is a drama and not a documentary.

Speaking of the episode, she said the story about Nerissa and Katherine was “ absolutely true, ” but she wasn’t sure “ if Margaret had that sense of empathy for them and if she didn’t know it before ” about her cousins.

Last week, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said viewers of The Crown should be told at the beginning of each episode that some scenes in the series were fictional.

Without warning, he said, “a generation of viewers who have not witnessed these events could mistake fiction for fact.”

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