Jackie writes about her European travels with her sister
Bouviers went to ‘about 10 bullfights and caused a minor riot at the first one’
“As you can see we had just gotten the works at a hairdressers in Paris. Lee had the front of her hair dyed blonde! (Aren’t you shocked) and I had mine all shaven off. How do you like me bald? You don’t have to be polite because I spend every waking hour pulling it to make it grow again.” Photograph: Sheppards Auction House
Many of Jackie Kennedy’s letters to Fr Joseph Leonard in the archive to be auctioned next month make reference to her sister Lee. Caroline Lee Bouvier, who was born on March 3rd, 1933, and now aged 81, is better known as Lee Radziwill. In 1951, Jackie returned to Europe (not to Ireland this time) with her sister. They sailed on the Queen Elizabeth, a famous passenger liner later replaced by the QE II, and spent weeks travelling through France, Spain, Italy and Austria.
Jackie wrote about the trip to Fr Leonard. Describing their visit to the Vatican, where they were in the general audience, she said the pope “asked us if we were enjoying our trip and asked the chaperone if we were good girls”.
In Spain they had gone to “about 10 bullfights and caused a minor riot at the first one” when “Lee burst into tears as the bull charged the horses”. Later the young women “fought calves at somebody’s breeding farm – wearing red skirts which were much brighter than the capes and of course we were knocked down, but the calves weren’t any bigger than Great Danes so it was all right”. They were also “capsized in a torchlight procession on the Grand Canal in Venice”. They “went to the Salzburg music festival” and “just wandered around Paris being in love with that city”.
Before leaving Europe and sailing home, they got their hair done in Paris. Jackie sent Fr Leonard a picture (above) of both of them on the deck of the ship as they sailed away. She wrote: “As you can see we had just gotten the works at a hairdressers in Paris. Lee had the front of her hair dyed blonde! (Aren’t you shocked) and I had mine all shaven off. How do you like me bald? You don’t have to be polite because I spend every waking hour pulling it to make it grow again.”
It is believed that the clothes worn by Jackie in the photograph were from the French couturier Balenciaga and that Lee’s clothes were by Mainbocher, a fashion line created by the American couturier Main Rousseau Bocher.
On the back of the photograph, which is also in next month’s auction, Jackie wrote an inscription to Fr Leonard: “If you think I am a Girouette – you should meet my sister!”
The young women sailed back to America on Liberté, “a wonderful new French boat and there were lots of fascinating people on board – actors and ambassadors and Spanish dancers, and the French choir Les Petits Chanteurs de la Croix de Bois. They were a horde of wicked little boys about 11 yrs. old who chased each other up and down the corridors with their scout knives and exhausted the poor priest who was bringing them over”.
The photograph inscribed by Jackie is estimated at €800 to €1,200.