The former First Lady was a national icon during her era. But following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, she was involved in a secret relationship no one knew of until decades later...
Secret Love Affair
We all know Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as the former first lady to United States President John F. Kennedy, but there is a whole part of the tale that the public had no clue about - until now.
Apparently, details of this unknown liaison were just recently discovered in the past few years. In 2017, a pile of old love letters belonging to Jackie was found in a Welsh manor, unveiling the news of a secret love affair between the first lady and a close friend and trusted advisor to her late husband...
The Other Man
The entire nation was completely shaken up following the unexpected death of John F. Kennedy in 1963, especially his wife, Jackie Kennedy. The couple had been happily married for ten years at the time of his death. But following his sudden passing, Jackie sought comfort in another man.
However, there was never any information at the time surrounding their secret relationship, and the star-crossed lovers never shared that happy ending. In fact, it was kept such a secret for years to come, considering this mystery man was trying to court one of the most famous women in America. So how did everything come to light?
A couple of years ago, the nation found out about the private affair between Jackie and her former partner - despite their relationship being kept secret for decades. It all came out when her secret lover's grandson began auctioning off special family heirlooms.
Amongst these prized possessions was one thing in specific that exposed Jackie's secret affair. The grandson found letters written years prior between the wife and JFK's trusted advisor. And though she ended up married to a different man after Kennedy's death, the discovery was nothing short of stunning. So, where did it all begin?
Love at First Sight
Jackie is best known today for her marriage to the former President of the United States, but when the couple was introduced in May of 1952, she was a thriving photographer. Still a congressman at the time, Kennedy landed Jackie, who was working for Vogue magazine as a photographer.
Their relationship moved quickly; some may say it was even love at first sight. JFK was instantly struck by Kennedy's intelligence, charm, and beauty. And after a year and a half of dating, he popped the question. The Kennedy's Rhode Island wedding was considered an elite social event for the books, of course.
Mr. & Mrs. President
A few years following their marriage, John announced his intention to run for President - and by 1961, he was sworn in to become the 35th President of the United States. Following his achievement, his wife soon became one of the most dignified and graceful First Ladies the nation had ever seen.
Besides becoming a true fashion icon during her reign as the First Lady, Kennedy handled the White House responsibilities of her husband with absolute class. Even years after her death, TV, movies, and biographies were created in her honor, as people truly adored her.
November 22, 1963
Unfortunately, her and her husband's love story was cut short. On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated while traveling in an open-air motorcade through Texas. And within thirty minutes, he was pronounced dead. Mr. Kennedy was sitting beside his wife when, upon impact, he fell over toward his wife.
Police quickly arrested Mr. Kennedy's killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, but he himself was assassinated by a local nightclub owner Jack Ruby. After the President's death, the entire nation was in mourning, and his former bride was completely heartbroken. Commentators later noted she was suffering from PTSD after the tragic assassination.
John F. Kennedy's sudden death caused the entire nation to shake in fear, but they relied on the First Lady to keep strong. Being the national icon that she was, Jackie continued on with her responsibilities, including planning one of the most difficult days of her life: His funeral.
During the horribly sad event, Jackie and her children kept their composure in order to keep up appearances for the nation. But silently, she was wrestling with the painful situation. JFK's widow was offered plenty of support from her husband's nearest and dearest, including his former British ambassador, David Ormsby-Gore.
David Ormsby was a politician and diplomat who was a member of the British aristocracy and a part of John F. Kennedy's inner circle for decades. Their relationship went back years and years to when Mr. Kennedy's father worked as an ambassador for the U.S. in London back in the '30s.
Seeing as their families grew closer and closer over the years, once Kennedy was elected as President, he used his power to appoint Ormsby-Gore to his own diplomatic role. The British ambassador became one of Kennedy's close friends and trusted advisors - he even worked alongside him during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Keeping Things Professional
Apparently, Mr. Kennedy treated Ormsby-Gore like a member of his own government rather than a foreign diplomat. Considering their previous relationship, President Kennedy trusted his friend's judgment on many subjects, which could explain Jackie's connection to him later on.
Throughout his presidency, JFK's trusted advisor continued to maintain a close relationship, both professionally and personally. Ormsby-Gore was a critical player in banning above-ground weapon tests in 1963. However, that was the year that everything would change…
Another Tragedy Strikes
Following Kennedy's tragic car ambush, Jackie still maintained a relationship with her late husband's closest advisor, David Ormsby-Gore. Following the assassination, the two remained friends, sending each other birthday and Christmas gifts as a symbol of respect between the two families.
However, just a few years after John F. Kennedy's sudden death, the foreign diplomat was about to face an unexpected tragedy of his own. In 1967, the ambassador's wife, Sylvia, was suddenly killed in a car crash, leaving behind her partner and five children.
David and his wife Sylvia were married for 27 years before her passing, but it was her sudden death that ultimately brought Kennedy and Ormsby-Gore closer and closer. At the end of the day, there is nothing like a tragedy that brings people so close together.
However, in the midst of the devastating situation, the media began to pick up on their close relationship and began questioning the pair's affairs. In one of the letters later found, Mrs. Kennedy wrote to the newly widowed Ormsby-Gore, "I would do anything to take that anguish from you."
The Perfect Match
The rumors surrounding their budding relationship were never confirmed - not for now, at least. But decades ago, the Daily Mail found information from a tabloid in the U.S. that stated David Ormsby-Gore would be the man who was "most likely to win Jackie."
It was around this time the ambassador inherited a new title, The Lord Harlech. Ormsby-Gore was given the aristocratic title from his father and earned a seat in the British parliament, becoming one of the country's most elite figures. Doesn't that sound like a perfect match for the widowed Mrs. Kennedy?
Were the Rumors True?
People dedicated to following Jackie Kennedy's journey were curious about who exactly the lucky man would be to marry the one and only former First Lady. Besides the enormous amount of pressure to fill JFK's shoes, the chosen one would also have to fit the profile of marrying a Kennedy.
At first, it looked like the tabloid's prediction had come true Ormsby-Gore was going to be the man to land Jackie Kennedy. The pair were spotted together often and even seen traveling together a few times, including a trip to Cambodia to visit the ancient temples at Angkor Wat.
Becoming Mrs. Onassis
Despite all the rumors and the pair's connection with one another, Jackie Kennedy would soon become Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The widower married Aristotle Onassis, a Greek shipping magnate 23 years her senior who was considered one of the world's wealthiest men at the time.
To much surprise, Jackie Kennedy decided to say yes to the billionaire, although Ormsby-Gore seemed more fit for the previous First Lady. Perhaps there was a deeper reason behind her choice - but in the meantime, it was Lord Harlech who was left heartbroken.
The Secret Proposal
Jackie married Onassis in 1968, and just like that, she became "Jackie O." The newly wedded Jackie went from being Ormsby-Gore's alleged lady to one of the wealthiest and most alluring figures of that time. But was she happy? Apparently, there was more to her love story with Lord Harlech…
According to The New York Times, Ormsby-Gore even popped the question to his beloved Jackie! Although the exact timing of his proposal is not all too clear, some say it was during their trip to Cambodia, while others reported it was a few months later. Nonetheless, we all know how that turned out…
Searching for the Truth
The question lingered for years to come: Why did she reject Ormsby-Gore's proposal only to marry Onassis a couple of months later? For years and years, following both Jackie O's and Ormsby-Gore's deaths, their relationship had been kept a mystery - until now.
Following the death of David Ormsby-Gore in 1985, his son Francis inherited the family estate formally named Glyn Cywarch, located in Wales. In 2016, the estate was passed down to David's grandson Jasset Ormsby-Gore, who is currently known as Baron Harlech.
Uncovering Historic Treasures
Baron's grandfather handed down the family estate of Glyn Cywarch, and he had grand plans to restore the mansion after it grew pretty outdated and unkempt. So, the new owner decided the best way to go about his renovation plans was to start raising money in order to finance his latest project.
In order to raise money to finance his grand renovation plans, Jasset Ormsby-Gore slowly started going through his family treasures that he would then auction off. But through his search, he discovered several leather cases that once belonged to his grandfather, Ormsby-Gore. What was inside?
The Love Letters
Baron Harlech was scavenging through his grandfather's leather cases when he broke the locks and found a number of letters written between Jackie and the Baron's grandfather, David. Looking through the letters, he found one written not very long after Jackie had declined his wedding proposal.
In the letter, Ormsby-Fore expressed his grief over the situation. He wrote, "All the pathetic plans I had brought with me for visits to Cyrenaica, holidays near one another," and a whole "variety of solutions to our marriage problem… all had become irrelevant trash to be thrown away within a few hours of my landing in New York."
Pains From the Past
Baron Harlech indeed hit the jackpot with these unbelievable letters and would surely be able to renovate the estate from the proceeds of these heirlooms. These letters unearthed more and more information about their forbidden love, heartbreak, and yearning for one another.
In the same letter, Jasset Ormsby-Gore's grandfather recalled his holiday with the brother-in-laws in Cambodia, admitting he longed for a secret wedding for the two of them. "As for your photograph, I weep when I look at it," he wrote. "Why do such agonizing things have to happen? Where was the need for it?"
Second Great Trauma
Ultimately she decided she was not going to live her life as "widow" but instead tied to Onassis. However, a second tragedy was in her near future - and she would need a dear companion to help her through it. In June 1968, John's brother Robert F. Kennedy was also assassinated, leaving their family in complete shock.
Biographer Barbara Leaming noted to The New York Times in 2017, "It was the second great trauma for her." During the time of her former brother-in-law's death, Jackie O had her husband Aristotle to turn to. But her mind was elsewhere. A month following her marriage, she sat down on her husband's yacht and wrote David a letter.
An Unbreakable Bond
The letter was dated November 13, 1968, just a couple weeks after the newlyweds said their "I do's" to one another. However, there was a deep feeling inside of the newly named Jackie O that yearned for the compassion of her dear friend David Ormsby-Gore.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis expressed to David how she felt about him and the friendship they created in her letter. “We have known so much & shared & lost so much together - Even if it isn’t the way you wish now - I hope that bond of love and pain will never be cut,” she wrote to him.
"Not a Man That I Could Marry"
The letter just continued on and on, and Jackie continued to spill her feelings towards David. As she saw it, she could not have chosen him to marry. In fact, she referred to him as a "brother." She wrote, "You are like my beloved brother – and mentor – and the only original spirit I know - as you were to Jack."
As difficult as it must have been to write this letter, Jackie knew it had to be done. “Please know – you of all people must know it – that we can never really see into the heart of another. You know me. And you must know that the man you write of in your letter is not a man that I could marry.”
According to Jackie O's biographer, Barbara Learning, her relationship with Aristotle was clearly "not a marriage of love," and it was clear to everyone involved. However, when Ormsby-Gore implied that Onassis was not worthy enough for his one true love, the former First Lady defended her husband.
"[He] is lonely and wants"to protect me from being lonely. And he is wise and kind. Only I can decide if he can, and I decided," she wrote to David. She believed Onassis' wealth could provide security for her and her children, and marrying him would be a smart decision on her family's behalf.
A Fresh Start
Despite the public questioning her choice to marry Onassis and not the more suitable Ormsby-Gore, she made her reasoning very clear. She wrote, "If ever I can find some healing and some comfort – it has to be with somebody who is not part of all my world of past and pain."
The letters between Kennedy and Ormsby-Gore showed that although she was not in love with him, she truly did love and care for him. Throughout the letters, we slowly see why it was that she turned down his marriage proposal and chose to marry and start her life again as an Onassis.
“I can find that now,” Jackie wrote of her new marriage, “if the world will let us.” She added in the letter, “I know it comes as a surprise to so many people. But they see things for me that I never wanted for myself.” At the end of the day, Jackie did what she felt was best for her and her loved ones.
Jackie and her second husband remained married until Onassis passed away in 1975 due to bronchial pneumonia. But what happened to David? Did he ever find love again? The British ambassador married Pamela Colin in 1969, an editor who happened to look very similar to Jackie, according to The New York Times.
A Final Farewell
Although the two eventually remarried, Jackie and Ormsby-Gore remained friends through the years. Despite the many claims that they were meant to end up with one another, Jackie seemed to have married for her safety. And Ormsby had no choice but to move on.
However, when the British politician died in a car crash in 1985, Jackie Kennedy Onassis made an appearance at his funeral. Some inside sources still believe she regretted her decision not to marry Lord Harlech - but the letters proved they still loved and adored one another.
After Lord Harlech sifted through all of his grandfather's belongings, he was able to locate 18 letters altogether, each handwritten aside from one typed note. In addition to these buried treasures was a stack of papers that showcased the relationship between the Kennedy and Ormsby-Gore family.
"I appreciate, as you know, in all these critical matters, your judgment – which I have found to be uniformly good and true," one of the letters said. In the collection of papers, we can see the true timeline of the lengthy relationship between the two families - even the harder moments.
There was even evidence of a pass that gave Ormsby-Gore access to the White House right after John F. Kennedy's assassination, signaling their relationship went far beyond the presidential walls. So, what else could have been found in these deep collections of letters?
The New York Times reported the collection of found papers also included a document belonging to David Ormsby-Gore that was given to him right before Robert Kennedy's funeral, where he was one of the pallbearers. Also found was a rambling letter written by Jackie, where she was under the influence, writing about an upcoming trip.
A Priceless Purchase
Decades after the letters were written, in 2017, they went up for sale at Bonhams, an auction house in London, generating a lot of buzz for potential buyers. "You just don't get this quantity of insight into Jackie's personal life and that level of intimacy," the venue's fine books expert Matthew Haley told The New York Times.
In just a day, the collection had sold for a whopping $123,000. A representative from Bonham told NBC News, “When we opened the case, and it’s probably the first time the case had been opened in over 30 years, looking down at these handwritten letters, by JFK, by Jackie Kennedy… it was one of sheer amazement really.”
The collection was bought by a private collector in the end and remained as a momentum of the relationship between Jackie and David. The letters were one of history's greatest finds, seeing as though they belonged to one of the most iconic women of the last century - no wonder they went for over $120K.
Although we may never really know the true nature of their relationship and how deep their love really was, the letters give us insight like never before. Learning told The New York Times, "Of course, he fell in love with her – she understood him so well. But I have no idea if it was consummated or not."
Jack Warnecke, a former lover of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, shared a touching anecdote about Jackie's nightly ritual until her death in May 1994. He recalled how she would untie the yarn from a stack of envelopes each night, select a letter from the pile, and read it before consigning it to the flames.
The letters were intimate missives from loved ones - her children John and Caroline, her father Jack Bouvier, her second husband Aristotle Onassis, and even a few from Warnecke himself. The collection also included letters from her JFK, whose infidelities cast a long shadow over Jackie's life.
Jackie's Close Circle
This intriguing insight into Jackie's life came from J. Randy Taraborrelli, who spent over a decade speaking to those closest to the icon. His conversations with family members, former lovers, staff members, and friends shed light on a woman who, despite her public persona, remained deeply vulnerable.
Haunted by the JFK's many affairs, Jackie was particularly tormented by one incident involving Marilyn Monroe. According to friends, Jackie was disturbed by a phone call Marilyn made to the White House, which came through on Jackie's private line...
JFK & Marilyn Monroe
Weeks earlier, Jackie had declined to attend a birthday concert where Monroe, dressed in a sheer nude gown, had provocatively sung "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." When asked why she refused to attend her husband's celebration, Jackie firmly stated, "I'm not going to be humiliated."
When the blonde bombshell rang asking for the president, Jackie responded in a stiff and rather abrupt tone, "What is this about?" It's reported that Monroe, playing the innocent, had then replied, "Oh, nothing in particular, I just wanted to say 'hello'."
A Longstanding Enigma
This interaction haunted Jackie for decades. It wasn't until years later, during a therapy session, that she discovered the call was real. Her psychologist revealed that she had treated Marilyn, who confessed to making the call. The betrayal stung, and Jackie promptly fired the therapist.
Jackie is a longstanding enigma wrapped in the fabric of American history, yet, behind this public facade, she was a woman wrestling with private pain and heartache. But like the Eternal Flame that burns at JFK's gravesite, the truth has a way of coming to light. And now, this hidden chapter of her life is finally being revealed.