Lee Radziwill opened up to Vanity Fair about life in the shadow of her sister

February 16, 2019 04:55 PM

After surviving incredible loss in her 85 years, Lee Radziwill — Jackie Kennedy’s younger sister, who reportedly died Friday — got candid about the death of her brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, in a rare interview in 2016. 

Lee Radziwill spent the better part of her youth in the shadow of her sister and former first lady Jackie Kennedy.

After years of having to “walk three steps behind,” it took a tragic incident for Radziwill to finally find the light.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the socialite alluded to feeling “free” after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“There were so many things I couldn’t do when my brother-in-law was president,” she told the magazine. “Finally, I’m free.”

Although Radziwill, then 83, spoke about her freedom following his death, the job of offering her sister consolation was now upon her, as Radziwill flew from her home in London for the funeral and an extended stay afterwards, the magazine reported.

RELATED: Lee Radziwill Slammed ‘Ludicrous Talk’ of Rivalry with Sister Jackie Kennedy: ‘I’m Nobody’s Kid Sister’


In an attempt to comfort Jackie, Radziwill reportedly left a note reading, “Good night my darling Jacks — the bravest and noblest of all. L,” on her sister’s pillow, but it didn’t help much. Confiding to her friend Cecil Beaton, Radziwill shared that she “had gone through hell,” in an attempt to be there for Jackie, but the dynamic was thrown off and they even got physical once when Jackie slapped Radziwill in the face.

“She’s really more than half round the bend!” she told Beaton about the former first lady. “She can’t sleep at night, she can’t stop thinking about herself and never feeling anything but sorry for herself.”

In 2015, the notoriously private Radziwill released a book titled Lee — previewed in PEOPLE — giving an inside look at her life alongside her famous sibling.

While the book may have shared a lot — and even felt like a personal scrapbook at times, complete with hand-written photo captions, copies of memorabilia and affectionate reminiscences — Radziwill still chose to guard her privacy at the time of release, opting out of the traditional publicity tour for the book’s release month.

“She doesn’t really like to promote herself like that,” her friend, magazine editor Richard David Story, told PEOPLE at the time. “This book was something very special to her. But she doesn’t t want to talk about herself.”

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