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Why JFK Jr. Didn’t Call William and Harry After Princess Diana’s Death

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Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr., Prince William and Prince Harry,
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After the tragic death of Princess Diana in August 1997, John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy tried getting her husband to pick up the phone. 

According to the new book Once Upon a Time: The Captivating Life of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, which was excerpted in People on Thursday, May 16, “Carolyn tried to get John to call Princes William and Harry to give his condolences when it came out that Diana had hoped for her sons to emulate John’s modesty in the face of media obsession.”  

However, author Elizabeth Beller explains, John was hesitant because “he didn’t know them and thought that their situations greatly differed.” 

“He had met (Princess Diana) once or twice,” Beller continues. “And the fact that she had died while being chased down by paparazzi, he was aware of the fact that their (he and Carolyn’s) lives were becoming overwrought with attention and he was upset.”

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Beller notes that John was “by all accounts, a lovely, gracious person,” but Diana’s death was perhaps too monumental. She writes, “Maybe that moment was too difficult for him to be able to reach out and say something to someone who’s just lost their parent in a very public and dramatic way.”

William and Harry were just 15 and 12 years old, respectively, when their mother was killed in Paris after being chased by photographers in August 1997.

Why JFK Jr Didn t Call William and Harry After Princess Diana s Death

Prince William and Prince Harry stand outside Westminster Abbey at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales on September 6, 1997 in London, England.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

John and Carolyn, of course, would meet a similarly tragic end less than two years later when they died after the aircraft John was flying crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha’s Vineyard. John and Carolyn were 38 and 33 years old, respectively, at the time.

 The crash also took the life of Carolyn’s older sister Lauren Bessette, who was 34 years old. 

In the time leading up to her death, the book alleges that Carolyn — still an all-time style icon over 25 years later — was struggling with the limelight that came with being married to a member of the Kennedy family.

“The press attention really terrified her,” Beller writes. “There was a vulnerability. And I think somehow the press attention and scrutiny just touched a nerve and it stole a lot of her joy.”

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In her 2012 memoir Fairy Tale Interrupted, John’s former executive assistant RoseMarie Terenzio wrote about a secret meeting between John and Diana in the summer of 1995, in which John tried to convince Diana to be on the cover of his magazine George

While Diana ultimately declined, she managed to leave quite the impression. 

Why JFK Jr Didn t Call William and Harry After Princess Diana s Death

John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy.
Justin Ide/Getty Images

“I do remember him saying, ‘She’s really tall!’” Terenzio recalled. “He also said she was very shy. He was surprised how demure she was. I think they had both met Mother Theresa so they spoke about that. And he said how lovely she was.”

Once Upon a Time: The Captivating Life of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy is available Tuesday, May 21. 

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