Queen Elizabeth II has left behind a lasting legacy following her 70-year reign, including a bond between the House of Windsor and the Kennedy family that continues to this day.
Americans have joined the British in mourning the monarch, who died ‘peacefully’ with her family by her side at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday, September 8, at age 96, Buckingham Palace announced. Her son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King Charles III.
After taking the throne in February 1952, she was nearly a decade into her reign when she hosted President John F. Kennedy and his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, at Buckingham Palace in June 1961.
The meeting took place just four months after his inauguration, and there have long been rumors of friction between Queen Elizabeth and Jackie, including alleged tension over the guest list before the meeting.
Queen Elizabeth II (pictured at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in June) has left behind a lasting legacy following her death on Thursday, September 8, including a lasting bond between the House of Windsor and the Kennedy family
Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, famously hosted President John F. Kennedy and his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, at Buckingham Palace in June 1961
Divorcées were traditionally not invited to state dinners, but Jackie pushed for her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill, and her second husband, the twice-divorced Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, to be in attendance.
‘Under pressure, she relents, but, by way of retaliation, singularly fails to invite Princess Margaret or Princess Marina, both of whose names Jackie has put forward,’ according to Reader’s Digest.
‘The queen had her revenge,’ Jackie allegedly confided to Gore Vidal. ‘No Margaret, no Marina, no one except every Commonwealth minister of agriculture they could find.’
She also supposedly told Vidal that she thought Elizabeth ‘resented’ her and was ‘pretty heavy going,’ She added that the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, was ‘nice, but nervous.’
However, the two women did seem to find common ground when discussing the difficulties of living life in the public eye.
When Elizabeth asked Jackie about her trip to Canada, she admitted that she found it draining to be in the spotlight. The queen reportedly responded, ‘One gets crafty after a while and learns how to save oneself.’
After dinner, the queen is said to have taken Jackie on a tour of the palace to view some of the art.
Cecil Beaton later wrote in his diary that Jackie was underwhelmed by Buckingham Palace’s interior design, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s style, according to The Telegraph.
Jackie reportedly had some tension with Queen Elizabeth over the guest list, but they found common ground when discussing the difficulties of life in the public eye
President Kennedy marked his first and only meeting with the monarch by gifting her a signed portrait of himself in a silver Tiffany’s frame with a handwritten message
Nine months after the dinner at Buckingham Palace (pictured), Jackie had a more casual one-on-one meeting with Queen Elizabeth while visiting her sister in London
President Kennedy marked his first and only meeting with the monarch by gifting her a signed portrait of himself in a silver Tiffany’s frame with a handwritten message: ‘To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with appreciation and the highest esteem, John F. Kennedy.’
He later wrote in a birthday letter to the queen, ‘May I also at the same time say how grateful my wife and I are for the cordial hospitality offered to us by your Majesty and Prince Philip during our visit to London last Monday.’
Nine months after the dinner at Buckingham Palace, Jackie had a more casual one-on-one meeting with Queen Elizabeth. She was visiting her sister in London when the royal invited her for lunch on March 28, 1962, according to Vanity Fair.
Jackie was far less vocal about this visit, telling the press, ‘I don’t think I should say anything about it except how grateful I am and how charming she was.’
President Kennedy never had a second meeting with the monarch. He was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
Queen Elizabeth mourned the loss by having a bell ring for the late president in Westminster Abbey after his assassination.
In a condolence letter to Jackie, she wrote, ‘I am so deeply distressed to learn of the tragic death of President Kennedy. My husband joins me in sending our heartfelt and sincere sympathy to you and to your family.’
Queen Elizabeth was several months pregnant with Prince Edward at the time and did not attend JFK’s funeral. However, her husband, Prince Philip, flew to Washington, D.C. to represent the British royal family at the service.
After President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963, Prince Philip traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend his funeral. He is pictured with Lyndon B. Johnson at a reception after the service
Prince Philip reportedly bonded with John F. Kennedy Jr. (pictured) before the funeral. He was found playing with John Jr. and making him laugh on November 24, 1963
According to William Manchester’s book ‘The Death of a President,’ the Duke of Edinburgh struck up a sweet friendship with the late president’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., who turned three on the day of his father’s funeral.
The touching story gained renewed attention after author Paul Brandus tweeted about the account following Prince Philip’s death last April.
‘The weekend of the Kennedy assassination, he flew to Washington for the funeral. At the White House on Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy was looking for John Jr. and opened the door to his playroom,’ Brandus wrote.
‘There she found the Prince sprawled on the floor, playing and laughing with the murdered president’s son. Days from his 3d birthday, John had said earlier that he ‘didn’t have anybody to play with’ (also: ‘where’s Daddy?’) and her Majesty’s husband decided that he would entertain the boy. RIP.’
Queen Elizabeth opened a memorial for President Kennedy at Runnymede in Surrey — the site where King John signed the Magna Carta — on an acre of land that was donated to the U.S.
The dedication took place on May 14, 1965, a year and a half after his assassination. Jackie was in attendance with her two young children, Caroline Kennedy and JFK Jr.
In Queen Elizabeth’s speech, she said, ‘The unprecedented intensity of that wave of grief, mixed with something akin to despair, which swept over our people at the news of President Kennedy’s assassination, was a measure of the extent to which we recognized what he had already accomplished, and of the high hopes that rode with him in a future that was not to be.’
On May 14, 1965, Queen Elizabeth opened a memorial for President John F. Kennedy at Runnymede in Surrey on an acre of land that was donated to the U.S.
Jackie was in attendance with her two young children, Caroline Kennedy and JFK Jr.
Prince Philip held hands with a then four-year-old JFK Jr. after spending quality time with the late president’s son in D.C. ahead of his father’s funeral
A photo from that solemn day shows Prince Philip holding hands with the late president’s son, whom he had bonded with when he attended JFK’s funeral.
Designed and carved by Alan Collins, the memorial is a series of granite steps that lead to a stone slab with an inscription honoring JFK.
‘This acre of English ground was gifted to the United States of America by the people of Britain in memory of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States 1961-63. Died by an assassin’s hand 22 November, 1963,’ the monument reads.
It also includes words from the president’s inaugural address in 1961: ‘Let every Nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.’
The Kennedy Memorial Trust, which was founded to oversee the memorial, also awards scholarships for British postgraduates attending either Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Queen Elizabeth’s connection with JFK and Jackie was one of the many links between the two famous families.
The House of Windsor has a decades-long relationship with the Kennedys that dates back to patriarch Joe Kennedy Sr. serving as the U.S. ambassador to Britain from 1938 to 1940 — early on in King George VI’s reign.
In the years following President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the royals have continued to pay tribute to his legacy.
King George VI invited Joe Kennedy Sr. to stay at Windsor Castle
George VI, the second son of King George V, unexpectedly became king after his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in December 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
Just months after King George VI was crowned in May 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Joe Kennedy Sr. — the father of future President John F. Kennedy — as the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.
Joe Sr. became the first Irish-American to hold the highly-coveted diplomatic position, right before the start of World War II.
The new ambassador and his wife Rose Kennedy, née Fitzgerald, were welcomed into English society when they arrived in London with their nine gregarious children in March 1938.
King George VI and his wife, Elizabeth, (center) spent the weekend with Joe Kennedy Sr. (far right) and his wife, Rose, (far left) at Windsor Castle in 1939
King George VI was crowned in May 1937 (pictured) after his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson
King George VI and his wife, Elizabeth, invited Joe Sr. and Rose to spend the weekend with them at Windsor Castle in 1939.
Rose chronicled the experience in her diary, according to the National Archives, calling the weekend ‘one of the most fabulous fascinating experiences of my life.’
‘I found it very difficult to accustom myself to saying ‘Ma’am’ when addressing the Queen and she told me not to bother; putting me at my ease,’ one diary entry reads.
‘She has a very pleasant voice, a beautiful English complexion, great dignity and charm; is simple in manner, stands very erect and holds herself well and is every inch a queen. . . .
Just months later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (far right) appointed Joe Sr. (center) as U.S. ambassador to Britain
Joe Sr. and Rose (pictured with five of their nine children in London) were welcomed into English society with open arms until his isolationist views during World War II led to him resigning in 1941
‘I lay in bed thinking [I] must be dreaming that I, Rose Kennedy, a simple, young matron from Boston, am really here at Windsor Castle the guest of the Queen and two little Princesses.’
Joe Sr. was adamantly against U.S. involvement in the fight against Nazi Germany and his increasingly isolationist views later lost him support in both FDR’s administration and in the U.K.
In comparison, King George VI found his footing as a leader and overcame his stammer to give a speech on September 3, 1939, declaring war on Germany. He became a beacon of strength and hope for his people during World War II.
Joe Sr. resigned as ambassador in February 1941, while King George VI continued to reign until his death in February 1952.
John F. Kennedy Jr. secretly met with Princess Diana
John F. Kennedy Jr. and Princess Diana were two of the most famous people in the world, but they somehow managed to pull off a secret meeting in New York City in the summer of 1995.
Diana was fresh off her separation from Prince Charles, and John hoped to convince her to pose for the cover of his political magazine, George, People reported.
RoseMarie Terenzio, who worked as John’s executive assistant and became his close friend, recalled how they tried to devise a plan for him to walk into the Carlyle Hotel undetected.
‘I remember him saying, ‘There’s no way someone is not going to leak it. There’s going to be paparazzi everywhere,” she said. ‘Someone suggested he go in disguise and I said, ‘That’s ridiculous. You’re not doing that!”
John F. Kennedy Jr. (left) secretly met with Princess Diana (right) in the summer of 1995 to ask her to appear on the cover of his political magazine George, a request she declined
JFK Jr. fooled the paparazzi by walking right into the front door of the Carlyle Hotel (pictured), where he met with Diana in her suite for an hour and a half
Terenzio and JFK Jr. were debating which of the hotel’s two entrances would attract the least attention when she remembered there weren’t any photographers at the front the last time she attended an event there.
‘So I told John, ‘Don’t go in the side entrance, because if anyone does leak it beforehand, people will expect you to go in the side. So walk in the front door,” she explained.
Thanks to Terenzio’s suggestion, they were able to slip into the Carlyle’s front entrance unnoticed while the press crowded around the side door.
JFK Jr.’s meeting with Diana in her suite lasted an hour and a half, but he wasn’t able to convince her to appear in his magazine.
‘He wanted to do a respectful piece,’ Terenzio recalled. ‘She wrote John a note that said, ‘Thank you so much, but not right now.”
George magazine creative director Matt Berman told People that John was ‘very careful what he said’ about Princess Diana when he told his colleagues about their meeting.
‘The one funny thing he said was, ‘She’s got a great pair of legs,’ he recalled.
Terenzio also remembered John’s first impressions of Princess Diana.
‘I do remember him saying, ‘She’s really tall!” she shared. ‘He also said she was very shy. He was surprised how demure she was. I think they had both met Mother Theresa so they spoke about that. And he said how lovely she was.’
Carolyn Bessette Kennedy lived in fear after Princess Diana’s death
John F. Kennedy Jr. hoped that the paparazzi’s interest in him would wane after he married his wife, Carolyn Bessette, in September 1996, but the media focus on them only intensified.
When Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997 after being chased by the paparazzi, Carolyn feared she and John would suffer a similar fate.
‘At the time, John and Diana were the two most famous people in the world,’ John’s former executive assistant and friend RoseMarie Terenzio told People. ‘Carolyn was horrified by Diana’s death.
‘She worried about her children and how they’d grow up without their mom. But she was also rattled by the fact that it could happen to John — that it could happen to her. She feared, ‘Now they’re going to focus on us even more because they don’t have her.”
John F. Kenned Jr.’s wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (left), lived in fear of the paparazzi after Princess Diana (right) was killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997
Carolyn was worried how Prince William and Prince Harry would ‘grow up without their mom.’ Princess Diana’s sons are pictured at her funeral
John and Carolyn were at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral on September 6, 1997.
Kathy McKeon — former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s assistant and part-time nanny — and her husband, Seamus McKeon, were with them that weekend when they were discussing Carolyn’s struggles with the paparazzi.
‘We talked about it that night,’ Kathy told People. ‘John said, ‘Tell Carolyn how my mom handled photographers.’ I said, ‘She was nice to them — she smiled and gave them one good picture.’ He said, ‘Carolyn, did you get that? You’re treating them all wrong.’ She said, ‘I hate those bastards.”
‘She told us about them cornering her and running and chasing her into a building and they were right on top of her,’ Seamus added. ‘She said, ‘I’m terrified of them.”
Kathy noted that Carolyn ‘couldn’t take that,’ explaining, ‘She wasn’t brought up with it. John was. Carolyn wasn’t. She wanted peace and quiet and for nobody to bother her.’
John and Carolyn’s lives came to a tragic end on July 16, 1999, when the single-engine aircraft he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard. Carolyn’s sister, Lauren Bessette, also died in the crash.
Prince William and Prince Harry honor John F. Kennedy’s legacy
Queen Elizabeth II’s grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry have both continued the royal family tradition of paying tribute to John F. Kennedy and his legacy.
In May 2013, Prince Harry visited JFK’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Dressed in his Army Air Corps uniform, he knelt down on one knee and placed a bouquet of flowers on the late president’s grave.
The tribute came six months before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in November 1963.
Three years later, Prince William honored JFK with a reception for The Kennedy Memorial Trust that took place at Buckingham Palace in October 2016.
In May 2013, Prince Harry laid a bouquet of flowers on John F. Kennedy’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia
Three years later, Prince William honored JFK with a reception for The Kennedy Memorial Trust that took place at Buckingham Palace in October 2016
‘My grandmother would very much like me to pass on some words to all of you,’ William said in a speech. ‘In 1965, my grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen inaugurated the memorial to President Kennedy, which stands at Runnymede, on land bequeathed by her to the people of the United States.
‘Her Majesty spoke that day of the extent to which we recognized what President Kennedy had already accomplished, and of the high hopes that rode with him, in a future that was not to be.
‘So I am honored, half a century on, to be here this evening and pay tribute to a man whom my family continues to hold in the highest esteem.’
Meghan Markle earns comparisons to Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
Meghan Markle has long been inspired by Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s iconic minimalist style, which she has emulated numerous times over the years.
Months before she met Prince Harry on a blind date in July 2016, she opened up about her favorite celebrity wedding dress in an interview with Glamour.
Meghan named the bias-cut silk gown that Carolyn’s dear friend Narciso Rodriguez designed for her to wear when she married John F. Kennedy Jr. on Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia, on September September 21, 1996.
Meghan Markle (left) has long been inspired by style icon Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (right)
Two years after the actress called Carolyn’s bias-cut silk wedding gown ‘everything goals,’ she wore an equally elegant dress to her wedding reception with Prince Harry (pictured)
For Meghan’s first official royal outing in Nottingham, England, in 2017 (left), she took a cue from Carolyn (right) and donned a simple black turtleneck, a long beige skirt, and over-the-knee boots
Meghan once again borrowed a look from Carolyn (right) when she attended the Endeavour Fund awards in London in 2019
The actress called the simple yet elegant look ‘everything goals.’ She added that her own style is ‘very pared down and relaxed’ much like Carolyn’s.
‘Classic and simple is the name of the game, perhaps with a modern twist,’ she said.
When it was time to pick her own dress ahead of her royal wedding in May 2018, Meghan enlisted Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller to design her three-quarter-sleeve gown that featured an open boatneck and a train.
The Duchess of Sussex later changed into a custom Stella McCartney halter gown that looked more similar to the dress Carolyn wore on her wedding day.
Carole Radziwill (pictured with her mother-in-law Lee Radziwill in 2014) said Meghan’s struggles with the paparazzi mirrored Carolyn’s experience
For Meghan’s first official royal outing in Nottingham, England, in 2017, she took a cue from Carolyn and donned a simple black turtleneck, a long beige skirt, and over-the-knee boots.
Carolyn wore a nearly identical outfit when JFK Jr. formally introduced her to the press in October 1996 after their wedding.
Meghan’s struggles with the paparazzi have also mirrored the issues Carolyn had after marrying America’s ‘prince.’
In October 1996, JFK Jr. asked the press to leave Carolyn alone after they returned from their honeymoon, a request that went largely ignored.
‘This is a big change for anyone, and for a private citizen even more so,’ he said. ‘I ask that you give Carolyn all the privacy and room you can.’
Twenty years later, Prince Harry released a similar statement on Meghan, saying she suffered ‘a wave of abuse and harassment.’ He added that he feared for her safety.
The couple have since stepped away from their royal duties and are now living in Montecito, California, with their children Archie, three, and Lillibet, one.
When Meghan opened up about the stresses of royal life in her and Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, Carole Radziwill noted the striking similarities to Carolyn’s experience.
Carole was married to Lee Radziwill’s son, JFK Jr.’s cousin Anthony Radziwiłł, and was best friends with Carolyn. Anthony died of cancer in August 1999, three weeks after John and Carolyn’s tragic plane crash.
‘I just watched the M&H sit down. Wow,’ she tweeted. ‘I love how people say Meghan knew what she was getting into…people said the same thing about Carolyn Bessette when she married into the Kennedy family. You could never know. Meghan said it right the perception is nothing like the reality.’
Prince William brings Earthshot Prize to Boston in honor of JFK
The British royal family is once again joining forces with American royalty following the announcement that Prince William and Kate Middleton are bringing the Earthshot Prize to Boston this year in honor of late President John F. Kennedy.
Prince William appeared in a short social media video in July to announce that the Earthshot Prize will be hosted in early December in Boston, just miles away from Brookline, Massachusetts, the suburb where JFK grew up.
The annual ceremony, first launched in London in 2021, has sparked speculation that both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 40, will travel to the U.S. for a short trip.
Prince William announced he’s bringing his Earthshot Prize to Boston this year in honor of John F. Kennedy, and the late president’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, couldn’t hide his excitement
Inspired by Kennedy’s Moon Shot proposal in the 1960s, which put the first man on the moon and led to the development of new technology, the Earthshot Prize is set to award $60 million in rewards over 10 years.
The environmental initiative aims to find solutions to repair and protect the planet — with five winners in 2021 being awarded $1.2 million to support their plans — such as projects to restore coral reefs and combat air pollution in India.
Fittingly, Prince William’s announcement came on the anniversary of the moon landing, and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation will serve as a partner along with Mayor Michelle Wu and the City of Boston.
Caroline Kennedy, the late president’s daughter, has partnered the JFK Library Foundation with Earthshot, saying that it was a ‘great tribute’ to her father.
The 29-year-old, who is the son of Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg, retweeted a post by the JFK Library Foundation on July 20, writing, ‘Earth shot baby!’
Ahead of the ceremony in Boston, Prince William is traveling to New York City to attend the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit on September 2021. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pictured at last year’s event
‘My family and the JFK Library Foundation look forward to partnering with Prince William and the Earthshot Prize on this exciting initiative,’ she said.
Her son, Jack Schlossberg, 29, shared his excitement over the news when he retweeted a post by the JFK Library Foundation on July 20, writing, ‘Earth shot baby!’
Ahead of the ceremony in Boston, Prince William is traveling to New York City later this month to attend the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit on September 2021.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is co-hosting the summit, and the Duke of Cambridge with meet the city’s former mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg while promoting Earthshot.
Prince William is expected to be received warmly by both VIPs at the United Nations and New Yorkers in general as he meets community groups during his first visit to the city since 2014.