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How Lee Radziwill Emotionally Supported Her Sister Jackie Kennedy Following JFK's Assassination

She was there for her sister in the weeks after President Kennedy's death.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES / RON GALELLA
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  • Jackie Kennedy's sister Lee Radziwill passed away on Friday at the age of 85.
  • Following Radziwill's death, Jackie Kennedy's secret service agent Clint Hill recalls how she was there for her sister following JFK's assassination.

    Following John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, his widow Jackie was publicly focused on preserving her late husband's legacy. But behind the scenes, the former first lady was leaning on her sister, Lee Radziwill, for support. 

    Radziwill was in London with her husband Stas when she heard the news of her brother-in-law's tragic death. "It was in the evening, in London. Stas came running up the stairs, his voice and face in shock," Radziwill told T magazine in 2003." I started crying ... uncontrollably. For hours."

    She then flew to Washington, D.C. to be with Jackie and her family. According to the first lady's secret service agent Clint Hill, Radziwill did "everything she could to support her sister."

    "She came to Washington. She got there before Stas [Radziwill] did; a day before, to be with Mrs. Kennedy,” Hill told People. And she was there, quietly serving as a pillar of support for her sister, on the day of JFK's funeral.

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    Per the New York Times, "Mrs. Radziwill brought sensitivity and emotional support to the crisis at hand. In the ensuing days, with the nation watching, she was a visible support for the widow in weeds, escorting her husband’s body to the Capitol to lie in state; during the funeral at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, and at burial ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. Mrs. Radziwill kept her composure until Air Force One, passing overhead, dipped a wing in salute. Then she wept."


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    Jackie Kennedy with her brothers-in-law Robert and Edward during the funeral of President John F. Kennedy

    After the burial, Radziwill reportedly wrote a note, and placed it on her sister's pillow, which read, "Good night my darling Jacks—the bravest and noblest of all. L."

    And in the weeks following JFK's death, Radziwill remained on-hand for emotional support. "She remained with us pretty much during that entire time until Mrs. Kennedy and the children moved out of the White House on December 6th and moved to Georgetown," Hill said. Radziwill then traveled with her sister at Christmas that year, and eventually helped move Jackie and her children into an apartment just a few blocks away from hers on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

    Even after Lee Radziwill's death in late February, the narrative suggesting she and her sister, Jackie Kennedy were bitter rivals, persists. But when Jackie needed her the most, Lee was there.

    "It’s just the most ludicrous talk in the world that we’re rivals," Radziwill told to People in 1976. "We’re exceptionally close and always have been. We’re together very often. In fact, endlessly."

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    *This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

    *Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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    Caroline Hallemann
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