Jacqueline Kennedy (credit unknown).
When Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, many were shocked. Onassis was more than 20 years older than the former Mrs. Kennedy, and their romance had been relatively swift. But another, somewhat forgotten factor contributed to the public’s surprise. In the years leading up to their union, there had been romantic speculation about Kennedy’s relationship with another man—David Ormsby Gore. Ormsby Gore was a friend and confidant of President John F. Kennedy. He held the title of Lord Harlech, and served as the British ambassador to the United States during Kennedy’s presidency. After both he and Jacqueline Kennedy had been widowed, they traveled together to Cambodia. A few months later, Lord Harlech proposed.
His offer of marriage was of course rebuffed. But now, as the The New York Times reports a new trove of letters between the two is being auctioned off by Ormsby Gore’s grandson. The 19 letters illuminate their close bond, and include Kennedy’s explanation as to why she chose to marry Onassis. In one letter, the former First Lady wrote, “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.”
After Ormsby Gore derided her choice to marry Onassis, Kennedy wrote, “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.”
Perhaps more poignant still is a letter in which Ormbsy Gore wrote to Kennedy. “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 . . . . ”