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Web Desk
July 17, 2019

The truth behind John F Kennedy Jr's complicated relationship with Carolyn Bessette


Web Desk
Wed, Jul 17, 2019

 John F Kennedy Jr was married to his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy for just three years, however, their relationship was no short of a roller coaster ride.

Their relationship had been tumultuous ever since the 29-year-old Calvin Klein publicist took her time to say yes after John proposed to her.

Carolyn had spent enough time with the larger than life Kennedy household that had embedded itself in the very fabric of American culture over the greater part of the 20th century.

Carolyn loved John but her lack of fondness of spending holidays and weekends with the sprawling Kennedys proved to be a point of contention for the couple.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t been exposed to such a lifestyle before. Having been born in White Plains, N.Y., and raised in posh Greenwich, Conn., by her mother and orthopedic surgeon stepfather, she was well aware and accustomed to the posh American lifestyle but she still felt like an outsider in her husband’s family.

However, despite her unease, Carolyn accepted the marriage proposal three weeks after one of the most eligible bachelors in the world had popped the question to her.

Being a supportive fiancé, Carolyn stood by his side when John launched his magazine ‘George’ in 1995.

The relationship seemed to be a happy one until one fine day when ‘The National not only photographed the couple, worse yet, caught the two on video, heatedly arguing in Washington Square Park on Feb. 25, 1996.

The couple had quite a brawl with an intense argument that led to Carolyn shoving him and John grabbing her wrist and trying to pull his fiancé’s engagement ring off of her finger. However, the couple made up pretty quick and was seen leaving the park hand in hand.

This led to the beginning of the many clashes that the couple encountered.

The paparazzi created an environment that made it very difficult for Carolyn and she oftentimes directed a lot of her frustrations towards John.

However, after all the drama surrounding their relationship, the couple got married in secret, surrounded only by the closest of family and friends, on Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia—reachable only by ferry, private boat or helicopter—on Sept. 21, 1996.

The couple then moved on to the next chapter of their life as husband and wife.

The story however, did not change: not their clashing temperaments or their communication issues and certainly not the press's consistently rabid interests in their lives.

In 1998, John, an adventurous outdoors man who was always trying to go faster or higher or to somewhere more remote, took up flying. In doing so, he went against the wishes of his family as many of the Kennedy’s had died in air crashes.

As it turned out, Carolyn didn't really want John to become a pilot either and she never flew with him without an instructor in the plane with them.

The couple found themselves in yet another disagreement when Carolyn refused to attend the wedding of John’s cousin – Rory Kennedy.

After several arguments and a lot of convincing from her close friends, Carolyn agreed to attend the wedding. This signaled that she was willing to put in effort into saving her relationship.

July 16, 1999, a Friday, started off normally for John. He went to work and later drove off to the Essex County Airport in New Jersey where he was to fly off to Cape Cod with his wife and her sister for Rory’s wedding.

One of John's instructors was scheduled to make the short trip to Cape Cod with them, but he had to cancel, John, however, didn't arrange for anyone to take his place.

It was getting dark and the wind was picking up. It was not good weather to fly in, John, however had to get to the wedding.

JFK Jr. was cleared for takeoff at 8:38 p.m.

By 3 a.m. on July 17 news came out that John's plane was officially missing. 

On July 18, Coast Guard officials said for the first time that the missing parties were likely dead, and Navy divers recovered the bodies of JFK Jr. and the Bessette sisters, still strapped into their seats, from the Atlantic on July 21. The plane's splash point was determined to be just off the western tip of Martha's Vineyard, near a private beach that Jackie had left to Caroline and John. They had all died instantly.

To honour the dynasty of the couple, their ashes were placed in Tiffany-blue boxes and scattered off the coast of the Vineyard on July 22.

Ted Kennedy delivered the eulogy for his nephew at a memorial service.

”He was a devoted son and brother, "and for a thousand days, he was a husband who adored the wife who became his perfect soul mate," the senator said. "How often our family will think of the two of them, cuddling affectionately on a boat, surrounded by family” the eulogy stated.

"We loved Carolyn. She and her sister, Lauren, were young, extraordinary women of high accomplishment—and their own limitless possibilities. We mourn their loss and honor their lives. The Bessette and Freeman families will always be part of ours”, continued Ted.

In the senator’s assessment, Carolyn had always fit right in. That's certainly how John wanted her to feel. And maybe, if they had been given more time, a different picture would have emerged.

Two decades later, however, the world is just left with memories of the power couple and the quest to remember them as they were has lived on.