Wealthy and influential former Mencap charity patron abandoned family members with learning disabilities. The patron’s name was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen mother.

In 2009, Stephen Fry teamed up with Christopher Hitchens in a debate arguing against the motion that the Catholic Church was a force for good in the world. He pointed out that to defend the Catholic church’s condoning of slavery pre abolition by suggesting that criticism was based on moral relativism (i.e. how could we, the Catholic Church, have known slavery was wrong if no one else thought it was wrong at the time) basically nullifies your argument that the Catholic church is a force for good. “Then what are you for?!” He exclaimed. I am reminded of this exclamation when I think of the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Netflix’s The Crown is criticised for not being historical accurate and portraying the Windsor’s in a less than reverential light. In Series 4, episode 7 titled The Hereditary Principle, Margaret discovers the existence of first cousins, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, who have been shut away in an institution for people with learning difficulties. She even secretly visits them. Margaret confronts her mother, the Queen Mother, and aunt of Katherine and Nerissa, who claims to be aware of them and that they were shut away to protect the image of the Crown. The Netflix drama actually falsely paints Margaret in a positive light because there’s no evidence she ever visited the cousins, let alone confronted her mother about them.

Whether the cousins were visited by members of the extended family is disputed. What isn’t a matter of debate is that the cousins were never in the spotlight and their story only came to light in 1987, shortly after Nerissa’s death, when journalists discovered she was buried in a grave marked only by a plastic name tag and serial number. This is another event the royals wished you would forget, an event which is made more deplorable because the Queen Mother was a patron of Mencap, a learning disability charity.

Royal propagandists claim that the royals symbolise the best of British and the Queen has sort to cultivate an image of the British monarchy being a charitable monarchy. Well, they failed spectacularly and cruelly here. I repeat Stephen Fry’s words, “What are you for?!”

Steve Cook

UK Monarchy Unveiled

Look back at previous articles from UK Monarchy Unveiled and other events that the Royal Family wished you’d forget.

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