Jackie Kennedy peeks out from the doorway of her sister’s London home, 1961. Once her husband the President returned to the U.S. on an evening flight following their Buckingham Palace dinner, Jackie Kennedy the First Lady presumed she could slip out of her Persona and resume some of her life as a private person with relative ease, given she was less recognizable in a foreign country and no longer ringed by the large security detail of the presidency. She was mistaken. In a letter she wrote her sister-in-law Joan Kennedy in the late 1970s, Jackie delineated the pros and cons of being married to the highly political and highly visible Kennedy brothers. While Teddy Kennedy’s adultery was the issue she specifically addressed, Jackie’s larger point was how she and Joan gained access to some of the world’s greatest minds and talents, among other perks, in return for the trying aspects of having married into the famous family. It was, in fact, an aspect of her life she loved – unlike the global curiosity she continued to generate. Jackie always believed that the degree of interest in her was neither justified nor commensurate with whatever blip on the screen of history she felt she would prove to be and that it was the President who deserved praise or scorn, and was the legitimate subject of scrutiny and fascination. Jackie always maintained that whatever she did was to help him, whether as his personal representative or as a symbol of their country, always an adjunct, and never the principal. So, when Jackie Kennedy was suddenly on her own in Europe, not in place beside her husband the head of state, she genuinely believed she might be largely left alone simply because she didn’t rate as important compared to the President. However cogent her rationale or even ambivalent about being famous in her own right, it was an argument that fell on deaf ears. During the day she spent with her sister in London before they left for a nine-day Greek vacation, she was forced to face the fact that however she might technically be a private citizen, she was becoming the world’s biggest celebrity. The American First Lady heads out for some antique shopping with her sister
Please do continue to read this article in its entirety. All you have to do is register right below as a Member. For those who are already “Subscribers” registering as a Member is entirely different. Subscribers must first also register as a Member.