Jackie Kennedy's former assistant writes of JFK Jr.'s wife's fear of the paparazzi in her upcoming memoir
Kathy McKeon, who worked for the former first lady between 1964 and 1977, writes in her upcoming memoir, Jackie’s Girl – excerpted in this week’s issue of PEOPLE – that JFK Jr.’s wife had a volatile relationship with the photographers who trailed her.
McKeon recounts a conversation one night at the family’s Hyannis Port compound in 1997 – the day of Princess Diana‘s funeral. During dinner, Bessette Kennedy detailed a particularly alarming paparazzi encounter.
“She described how she had gotten chased down the sidewalk by a wolf pack of photographers, and ducked into a building to escape them,” writes McKeon. “They cornered her by the elevator as she frantically pushed the button.”
McKeon says that JFK Jr. urged her to tell Carolyn how his mom handled the paparazzi. As McKeon recounts in her book, ” ‘When she [Jackie] was up here, she’d leave the gate smiling, give them one good picture and they’d let her go.’ “
Bessette Kennedy, according to McKeon, had a difficult time with paparazzi: “She said, ‘I’m terrified of them.'”
The adjustment to public life as JFK Jr.’s wife, McKeon says, had been difficult for Bessette Kennedy. As McKeon tells PEOPLE, “She couldn’t take it. She wasn’t brought up with it. John was, Carolyn wasn’t.”
In 1999, McKeon was heartbroken to learn that JFK Jr., Bessette Kennedy and her sister were killed in a plane crash into the Atlantic Ocean.
For more from McKeon on Jackie’s life after JFK and JFK Jr., check out this week’s issue. Jackie’s Girl is due out May 9.
Also on sale now: PEOPLE’s commemorative edition Jack & Jackie: Remembering Camelot.