The shame
of disability


In Elizabeth’s time some people saw severe disability as shameful and many poor families just couldn’t cope with the care such children required.  Sometimes they sent them away, putting them out of sight and out of mind.  Perhaps that is what caused Elizabeth to be sent so far away from home.


In some communities the family would even post a death notice rather than admit that one of its members was committed to an asylum.

Today, charities such as Aberlour work throughout Scotland to improve the lives of disabled and disadvantaged children and their families. You can find out more about their work here.



As recently as 1941 two of the Queen’s cousins, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, were sent from Scotland to a mental home in Surrey.  They were never visited and in 1963, using the publication ‘Burke’s Peerage’, the Palace let it be known that they had died. In fact Nerissa died in 1986 and Katherine is thought to be still alive.