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Queen Elizabeth vs Jackie Kennedy at Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth vs Jackie Kennedy at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Getty Images


Queen Elizabeth vs Jackie Kennedy at Buckingham Palace


According to The White House Historical Association, when JFK and Jackie Kennedy visited London in 1961, the Queen and Prince Philip hosted “a splendid dinner in their honor.”

This is covered in The Crown’s second season, where Queen Elizabeth is stunned to learn, weeks later, that the First Lady exploited her deepest insecurities by telling dinner guests that Elizabeth is “a middle-aged woman so incurious, unintelligent, and unremarkable that Britain’s new reduced place in the world was not a surprise but an inevitability.” As if that wasn’t enough of a slap in the face for Elizabeth, Jackie also refers to Buckingham Palace as “second-rate, dilapidated, sad, like a neglected provincial hotel.”

It appears at the start of episode 8 of the second season of the series, which follows Queen Elizabeth II as she ascends to the throne after her father, King George, died young.

Following the 1961 encounter, according to Cecil Beaton and Gore Vidal, Kennedy had some criticisms about Queen Elizabeth. According to The Telegraph, Kennedy was “was unimpressed by the palace furnishings and by the Queen’s dress and hairstyle.” Jackie was dressed for dinner in a sleek blue silk Chez Ninon gown, while Elizabeth wore an A-line tulle gown, which she proved to be a stylish style phenomenon throughout the 1961 European tour. (According to The Crown, Jackie wasn’t the only one who didn’t like the queen’s new short, curly haircut.) “It’s certainly very practical. Should you ever feel compelled to ride a motorcycle, it could always double as a helmet,” Prince Philip jokes.)

Jackie insisted on inviting her sister and brother-in-law, a Polish prince who had been divorced twice, to the dinner. For the queen and the monarchy, one divorce was too many. The queen raised an objection. The first lady expressed her displeasure with the objection.

The statements are “imagined,” but not improbable, according to Robert Lacey, historical consultant for The Crown and author of The Crown: The Official Companion.

“I think that the personal tension between Elizabeth and Jackie is speculative. I’m not saying it didn’t exist—you can’t say it’s false, you can’t say it’s true,” he says. “I think it’s perfectly plausible that the Queen felt upstaged by Jackie,” he says.

The series shows the on-screen queen’s dissatisfaction as her crew of typically stern butlers and even Prince Phillip jostle to see the first lady emerge from the motorcade as the Kennedys arrive at Buckingham Palace.

Meanwhile, according to The Telegraph, Vidal said that following their encounter, Jackie described Elizabeth as “pretty heavy going.” “But that’s what she’s there for,” Elizabeth’s sister is alleged to have replied when Vidal passed this message on to Princess Margaret years later. Jackie had actually met Elizabeth a decade before when she covered her coronation for the Washington-Times Herald as the “Inquiring Camera Girl.”

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