Over half a century ago, two of the world’s most iconic women, Queen Elizabeth and Jackie Kennedy met in London. Now 50 plus years later, the standout moment in royal history is set to be depicted in season two of Netflix’s hit series The Crown. With the period drama returning to Netflix on Friday, December 8, we decided to take a look back at the true story behind Her Majesty’s meeting with the Kennedys at Buckingham Palace in 1961.
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline (aka Jackie) dazzled British crowds with their charm and sophistication, and made quite an impression as guests of honor at a lavish state banquet hosted by the monarch and her husband Prince Philip.
VIEW GALLERY The Kennedys were guests of honor at a lavish state banquet in 1961 Photo: PNA Rota/Getty Images
The Queen looked as glamorous as ever wearing a Hartnell royal blue tulle ballgown, which was styled further with white satin gloves and dazzling jewelry encrusted with diamonds and sapphires. Jackie, whose popularity matched the Queen's, was preened to perfection in a Chez Ninon ice blue silk evening gown and gloves.
It was reported that a special allowance was made for Jackie's sister and brother-in-law, Princess Lee Radziwill and Prince Stanislas Radziwill, to attend the dinner. Traditionally, divorcées were not invited to state dinners at Buckingham Palace — both Lee and her husband were on their second and third marriages — despite being a part of the Polish royal family.
VIEW GALLERY John F. Kennedy gave Her Majesty a photo of himself Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images
During the visit to Buckingham Palace, JFK presented Queen Elizabeth with a photo of himself in a silver Tiffany & Co. frame and signed it: "To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with appreciation and highest esteem, John F. Kennedy." In a birthday note to the Queen, the president later thanked her for her hospitality during their visit. "May I also at the same time say how grateful my wife and I are for the cordial hospitality offered to us by your Majesty and Prince Philip during our visit to London last Monday," he said. "We shall always cherish the memory of that delightful evening."
President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie will be played by Michael C. Hall and Jodi Balfour in The Crown. The Crown tells the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, as the fragile social order established after the Second World War breaks apart. The series will feature the historic visit, which was considered difficult because divorcées were not invited to state dinners, focusing on the Queen's relationship with Jackie. The two women met again alone nine months later, when Jackie confided to the Queen that she found being on public view "exhausting.”