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Report: Queen Rejected Meeting on Mentally Handicapped Cousin

February 2, 1996 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Queen Elizabeth II did not respond to an invitation to meet hospital authorities to discuss her mentally handicapped cousin’s future, a newspaper said Friday.

The Daily Express report is the latest twist in the story of five relatives of Queen Mother Elizabeth who were quietly put in a mental hospital decades ago.

The tabloid newspaper said that the hospital where 69-year-old Katherine Bowes-Lyon has been a patient since 1941 is to close next year. Miss Bowes-Lyon is a niece of the queen mother, the 95-year-old mother of the queen.

The paper said Peter Kinsey, administrator of the Royal Earlswood Hospital, wrote to the next-of-kin of all 233 patients, including the queen and the queen mother, telling them the hospital was closing in March 1997. It said the queen and her mother were invited to a meeting to discuss Miss Bowes-Lyon’s future, but ``failed to attend.″

Buckingham Palace said it had no comment. When questions about Miss Bowes-Lyon arose in the past, Buckingham Palace had said it was a matter for the Bowes-Lyon family.

Miss Bowes-Lyon, her sister Narissa and their cousins Idonea, Etheldreda and Rosemary Fane were all admitted to the state-funded hospital the same day in 1941. Narissa died there in 1986 and Rosemary in 1972.

News reports in 1987 said all suffered from a genetic disorder, which did not affect the queen or her heirs.

For many years, Katherine was believed to be dead, until a newspaper reported in 1987 that she was at the hospital. Before that, Burke’s Peerage, a Who’s Who of the aristocracy, listed Katherine as dying in 1961 and Narissa in 1940.

Katherine and Narissa are daughters of the queen mother’s late brother, John Herbert Bowes Lyon, and his wife Fenella.

No one was available at the hospital on Friday to say what had happened to Idonea and Etheldreda, who were still living in 1987.

Lady Elizabeth Anson, the granddaughter of Fenella Bowes-Lyon, denied in 1987 that there was a cover-up. She blamed the incorrect entry in Burke’s Peerage on her grandmother who was ``a very vague person (who) often did not fill out forms completely that Burke’s Peerage sent her.″

Sir Brian Rix, head of the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults, said in 1987 the queen mother only learned in 1982 that her nieces had been admitted to the hospital. Until then, the queen mother _ the charity’s official patron since 1962 _ had thought they were dead, Rix said.