Major scandals have rocked the British royal family for centuries. Time normally erases public knowledge about past incidents, but occasionally old drama reemerges. Netflix’s The Crown is notorious for reminding its audience about Buckingham Palace's dirty laundry. Notably, the show reintroduced the public to Queen Elizabeth's cousins Katherine and Nerissa, who vanished from public life for less than savory reasons.
A royal secret
When Princess Margaret visits a therapist in an episode of The Crown, her counselor isn’t surprised that the royal has appeared in her office. She alludes to a pair of sisters who were associated with Margaret. The Princess is shocked, as the therapist had just revealed a dark family secret that even Margaret didn't know about!
Discovering the lies
In the show, Margaret and her older sister Elizabeth find that their family lied about their cousins Katherine and Nerissa being dead. Instead, they were sent to Royal Earlswood Hospital — a state-funded mental institution. This would be a shocking discovery even if they weren't royalty! But could such a deception have happened in real life?
A taboo subject
Well, some members of the royal family were a little more clued in. Apparently, it wasn't a secret so much as a taboo subject for some of the royal family. All they knew was that Katherine and Nerissa were in the sanatorium once known as “The Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles.” Nice name. Of course, that doesn't sound like a place fit for royalty — or for anyone, for that matter.
They weren’t the only ones with royal blood at Royal Earlswood Hospital. The Queen Mother's cousins, Rosemary, Etheldreda, and Ideona, were committed to the facility on the same day as the others. They were all so closely connected — genetically and socially — to the royal family, but reaped none of the benefits.