This article is adapted from a response to a public inquiry about the sister of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Born as Caroline Lee Bouvier on March 3, 1933 but always known by her middle name, Lee Radziwill currently lives between apartments in New York and Paris, France.
She has worked at various times as a fashion publicist, an interior designer and an actress.
Lee Radziwill has survived many family losses. Her famous sister, the former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died in 1994. Five years later, she lost both her nephew John F. Kennedy, Jr. and her son Anthony, one of the two children she had.
Her most recent husband was the film producer Herbert Ross, who died in 2001, a year after they divorced. She obtained a Catholic annulment from her first husband Michael Canfield in 1959, and then married Stanislaw Radziwill.
Although born in the Ukraine, Radziwill was the descendant of Polish nobility; during World War II, he became a refugee to England.
Denied permission from the Queen of England the right to use his inherited title of “Prince,” he was permitted the informal use of it as a courtesy.
Since the American First Lady’s sister was often addressed as “Princess Radziwill,” it was often incorrectly assumed that she was a legitimate member of a European royal family. They divorced in 1974 and he died two years later.
Four years younger than Jackie, her only sister, the two siblings were constant companions and great confidantes in their early years.
Although Lee Radziwill relocated to England after her marriage to “Stas,” as he was known by family and friends, she was often in the United States visiting her sister in the 1950s, as the political career of her brother-in-law, Senator John F. Kennedy rose until he attained the presidency in 1960.
While unable to attend the January 1961 inauguration, Lee Radziwill made many long visits to the White House, marked by a stay at the presidential weekend home in Middleburg, Virginia and was once the guest of honor at a private dance hosted by Mrs. Kennedy.
With a wide circle of friends among international society, she knew many in the diplomatic set who figured, to some degree, in the Washington world of her sister. Privately, she also managed to purchase French-made clothing for the First Lady, technically enabling her to maintain a vow that she only purchased items made in the United States.
Although she did not play any technically official role in the Kennedy Administration, her presence was notable.
Lee Radziwill first came to wide public notice during the May-June 1961 state visit by the President and Mrs. Kennedy to Paris, Vienna and London.
While in London, the President and First Lady were guests at the Radziwill home and JFK served as godfather for his niece Christina, born in 1960 (who now lives in New York).
After the President returned to Washington from London, the Bouvier sisters then made their own trip, a private vacation to Greece in mid-June of 1961.
It was, however, the March-April 1962 trip to India and Pakistan of the First Lady Jackie Kennedy with Lee Radziwill as her official companion, that made the sister a globally recognizable figure.
Dressed similarly and with a remarkable resemblance to each other, they were seen in press photographs riding an elephant and then a camel together and in an NBC color documentary made for television audiences.
Her most prominent public visibility, however, came as part of the official presidential party of a trip to Ireland in June of 1963, joining President Kennedy.
Since the First Lady was then pregnant and unable to travel, Lee Radziwill acted as an informal companion to him, along with the presence of two of his three sisters, Jean Kennedy Smith and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
The visit to Ireland was more than a state visit, however, it was a sentimental return to the land of ancestors for both the President and Mrs. Radziwill, which her maternal great-great grandparents had immigrated to America.
Following the death of Jacqueline Kennedy’s infant son Patrick in August of 1963, and her ensuring depression, Lee Radziwill arranged for them to make another European vacation, this time as guests on the yacht of her friend Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping magnate for a cruise of the Aegean Ocean and stops at ancient Greek sites, and tours of Turkey and Morocco.
Although the President and Mrs. Kennedy had once briefly met Onassis in the late 1950s in the south of France, Lee Radziwill’s more familiar friendship with him bridged what would become his later closeness to the First Lady.
Following her attendance at President Kennedy’s funeral in November of 1963, Lee Radziwill was a strong emotional support on whom her sister relied as she moved to a temporary home in Washington as a widow.
During the first summer of her widowhood, Jackie Kennedy again had her sister as traveling companion during a cruise on the Adriatic Ocean, with a visit to Yugoslavia.
Although they kept a home in England, she and her family relocated to New York and lived within walking distance of her sister. Lee Radziwill was at her sister’s side during the June 1968 funeral and burial of Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of the late president, and her October 1968 remarriage to Aristotle Onassis.
While living in New York during the late 1960s and early 1970s, she befriended many of the leading names in the arts and pop culture at the time, including artist Andy Warhol, Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, author Truman Capote, and dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
Later, as single women in New York, the two sisters pursued diverging professional pursuits, but came together to publish their original drawings and account of a European trip they made together in the summer of 1951, One Special Summer.
Mrs. Onassis hosted the wedding party in her Fifth Avenue apartment for her sister’s third marriage, in 1988.
Turning 83 years old on her next birthday, Mrs. Radziwill still maintains an active social life in Paris and New York. In 2013, she granted a taped interview with the New York Times.
She has also continued her link to the late president’s family, a notable attendee at the 2009 funeral of his brother, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.
(All images used in this article were found on ebay and do not note the original source.)