This Future First Lady Was A Reporter At Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation


Jackie Kennedy Onassis has one of the most enduring legacies of any first lady of the United States. As John F. Kennedy’s wife, she was known for her patronage of the arts, impeccable sense of style, and her exhaustive restoration of the White House. However, it was her work prior to marrying John that led her to Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation.

Jackie Kennedy Was A Reporter In Her Early Twenties

In 1953, Jackie wasn’t yet a Kennedy. Known at the time as Jacqueline Bouvier, the future first lady worked as an “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald. Her position required her to travel around Washington D.C. asking for people’s input on recent events and certain hot topics. She’d then take their photos and publish their responses in her newspaper column.

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However, that very year, at just 23 years old, Jackie received the prestigious assignment of covering Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. It was only a few months before her eventual wedding to John, and just eight years before she would move into the White House. Her column, headlined “Crowd of Americans Fill ‘Bright and Pretty’ London,” shed light on the state of England as the country waited for its new queen to be crowned.

“The whole country is concerned with the coronation, the whole coronation, and nothing but the coronation,” Ms. Bouvier wrote. “Every home one could see thru the windows of the boat train between Southampton and London bore a picture of Queen Elizabeth—pasted on the outside of the house or in a window … Every building is decorated: great swoops of multi-colored bunting adorn all the big hotels…”

Jackie Kennedy Crossed Paths With The Queen Twice More

The future Mrs. Kennedy described a certain affinity shared between Britain and the United States during that time. Their militaries had jointly achieved a glorious joint victory in World War II. In the column, she shared a special anecdote about a night watchman at their apartment building in London who was so excited to have American guests that he hung a large American flag on their front window in pride.

The next time Jackie would immerse herself in the royals’ world, she would do so as the first lady of the United States. In 1961, just eight years after the queen’s coronation, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy attended an intimate dinner at Buckingham Palace. Interestingly, the press insinuated a certain degree of tension lingering between the queen and Mrs. Kennedy.

(L-R): Prince Philip, Jackie Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth, and John F. Kennedy pose in a black and white photo at Buckingham Palace. All are dressed formally
The Kennedys meet with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1961. (Photo by PNA Rota/Getty Images)

Despite the rumored disdain between the two public figures, Queen Elizabeth invited Jackie to the palace again in 1962 while the First Lady was in London visiting her sister. The two famous women shared a private lunch together. After the meal, Jackie told the television cameras waiting outside, “I don’t think I should say anything about it except how grateful I am and how charming she was.”

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While they weren’t the best of friends, people in their lives have firmly insisted that they recognized themselves in each other. They both assumed positions of power and public importance while on the cusp of adulthood. It speaks to a certain interconnectedness that these two major historical figures crossed paths so many times. It certainly makes you wonder if any future public figures will be hiding in the crowd at King Charles’ own coronation next year.

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