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Secret Service Agent Reveals the Real Relationship Between Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Photoquest / Getty Images

In the media, the relationship between First Lady Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II was typically described as a “frenemies” situation. The two women were so present in the public eye that it was only natural that their relationship would be, too. However, a new book reveals that their relationship was not necessarily as it was presented.

The two had a history before they formally met

Jackie Kennedy holding a camera

Before she met John F. Kennedy, Jackie Bouvier worked for a newspaper as a photographer. (Photo Credit: ullstein bild / ullstein bild / Getty Images)

When Queen Elizabeth II invited President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy to Buckingham Palace in 1961, it wasn’t the first time the women had crossed paths. In fact, Jackie had worked at the Washington Times-Herald as the “Inquiring Camera Girl” and she covered the coronation of the queen.

Years later, the president and first lady were invited to the palace amid growing tensions growing between the two female figureheads. Specifically, there were issues with the guest list. Reader’s Digest described the tumultuous planning:

“Traditionally, divorcées are not invited, so the queen has been reluctant to welcome Jackie’s sister Princess Lee Radziwill, who is on her second marriage, or her husband, Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, who is on his third. 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.”

The narrative between Jackie and Queen Elizabeth wasn’t always friendly

Jackie Kenney and Queen Elizabeth sitting next to each other, other people sit around them

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy, wipes a tear from her eye at a ceremony dedicating a memorial to her father. Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II sit in front of her. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

While The Crown dramatized the relationship between Jackie and the Queen, there really were tensions between the two. They both flashed smiles during the visit, but the queen was rather short with Jackie. It was later revealed that Jackie had some not-very-nice things to say about the queen following dinner.

According to British photographer Cecil Beaton, Jackie confided in him that she found the furnishings of Buckingham Palace to be unimpressive and said that the queen’s hairstyle and dress that evening were equally as lackluster. Apparently, Jackie felt that Elizabeth “resented” her.

Jackie attended a second event at Buckingham Palace

John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, Jackie Kennedy, and Prince Phillip standing beside each other

President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy pay a visit to the royal family in England in 1961. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Despite the tension, the queen and first lady maintained communication throughout their relationship. Jackie later visited Queen Elizabeth by herself.

The occasion was just a lunch, but it seemed to serve as a means to smooth things over from her last trip to the palace. When Jackie left the event that afternoon, she was met by the press who questioned her about the low-profile meeting. She responded, “I don’t think I should say anything about it except how grateful I am and how charming she was.”

Clint Hill found a trunk of photos, sparking his revelation of their relationship

A man getting an award on stage, Jackie Kennedy and others sat to the side of the stage

Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon presents a citation for “exceptional bravery” to secret service agent Clinton J. Hill, after he threw his body in front of the late President Kennedy and his wife at the first sound of gunfire in Dallas. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Clint Hill, Jackie’s secret service agent between 1960 and 1964, was cleaning out his garage when he found a steamer trunk filled with photographs and documents from his time at the White House. The plethora of treasures in the chest prompted him to write a new book about his time working for Jackie.

In the book, My Travels with Mrs. Kennedy, Hill dedicated an entire chapter to the relationship between Jackie and Queen Elizabeth. Titled “Mrs. Kennedy & The Queen,” Hill described his perception of the two during Jackie’s 1962 visit for lunch.

In reality, the two got along quite well

Headshot of Queen Elizabeth II standing in front of Jackie Kennedy in fancy dress

Queen Elizabeth flashes a radiant smile as she stands next to Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy after dinner at Buckingham Palace here June 5th. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

By Hill’s account, Jackie and Queen Elizabeth were actually quite amicable with one another. “They had a good relationship. I know that the press has sometimes written it otherwise, but that’s not really true. The relationship was friendly, more warm than it was cold,” Hill explained.

In the chapter, he explains that the two found plenty of common ground to bond over. “They had small children and they had horses. Two things that they could discuss forever,” Hill recalled. When the lunch was over, Jackie apparently told Hill that she thought the afternoon was “delightful.”

More from us: From Sisters To Enemies? The Feud That Left Lee Radziwill Out Of Jackie Kennedy’s Will

So, despite what The Crown might have you believe through their fictionally woven depiction of real events, Jackie and Queen Elizabeth were actually friends.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!

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