Jackie Kennedy's Feud With Her Sister Lee Radziwill Explained

The relationship between siblings can often be complicated, and sometimes it can be quite contentious. Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwill definitely had a lot of ups and downs with each other during their lifetimes. They started out as the Bouvier sisters, the daughters of Janet Lee Bouvier and Jack Vernou Bouvier (via the Daily Mail). Jackie was born on July 28, 1929, making her the elder of the two sisters, per The New York Times. Lee, born Caroline Lee, followed four years later on March 3, 1933.

Their stockbroker father had the nickname Black Jack (via The New York Times). The sisters lived a life of luxury, spending their early days in the family's Manhattan apartment and at their family's estate on Long Island. While the Bouviers seemed to be quite wealthy, Jack Bouvier had endured some financial losses during the stock market crash of 1929. Their marriage started to disintegrate under the strain. The pair separated in 1936 and finalized their divorce in 1940, according to The New York Times.

Jackie and Lee's parents played favorites

Some of the tension between Jackie and Lee may have started early on. According to Vanity Fair, Lee said their father "favored Jackie." Lee felt very much in her older sister's shadow at times, as Jackie excelled at school. And Jackie probably didn't appreciate that their mother preferred Lee over her, per the Daily Mail. Their mother chose to be more critical of Jackie, which may have been connected to her looking like her father.

Their mother remarried, tying the knot with Hugh D. Auchincloss, a successful investment banker. The Bouvier sisters then spent time at Auchincloss' mansion in Virginia and summered in Newport, Rhode Island, where he had a large estate called Hammersmith Farm. Both sisters attended the elite Miss Porter's School in Connecticut. But the pair took very different paths post-graduation. Jackie, the most academically accomplished of the two, attended Vassar College for her first two years of school. She then went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne for her junior year.

Jackie and Lee were rivals at times

When Lee graduated high school, she went to Paris with Jackie (via Vanity Fair). The two spent the summer of 1951 traipsing around Europe. Through their family's numerous connections, the sisters received introductions to diplomats and other members of high society. This wonderful journey together may have been the closest the two would be in adulthood. It wouldn't be long, however, before sibling rivalry resurfaced.

Jackie went to Washington, D.C. after Paris, and Lee tried college life for three semesters before dropping out of Sarah Lawrence. Jackie finished her degree at George Washington University in 1951 and worked for the Washington Times-Herald, per The New York Times. Lee put her savvy fashion sense to work as an assistant to Diana Vreeland of Harper's Bazaar, per Vanity Fair. In 1953, Lee surpassed her sister in the matrimonial department, becoming the first of the two to walk down the aisle. She married Michael Canfield, the adopted son of the publisher of Harper & Row. Two months after Lee's wedding, however, Jackie captured the spotlight with news of her own engagement to John F. Kennedy.

Jackie and Lee also supported each other

Jackie married John F. Kennedy in September 1953 (via The New York Times). They became a Washington power couple as her husband became a rising star in the Democratic party. Lee lived in London with her husband, but that union soon fizzled out. With her next marriage, she obtained something that Jackie didn't have — a royal title. Lee's second husband, Stanislaw Radziwill, had been a prince in his native Poland, but he had fled the country during World War II, according to Vanity Fair.

Despite whatever social cachet she thought she achieved with her marriage, Lee was soon eclipsed by her older sister. Jackie garnered international attention after her husband became president of the United States. Lee and her husband visited the White House on several occasions as guests of the Kennedys, and she helped Jackie develop her iconic style. Lee traveled with Jackie, and she even accompanied Jackie on her official visit to India and Pakistan in 1962. But not everything was rosy between the two sisters.

Lee may have betrayed Jackie

During her second marriage, Lee evidently had several extramarital affairs. One of her alleged paramours was her own brother-in-law John F. Kennedy, according to the Daily Mail. She reportedly told other people about her tryst with Kennedy, and it may have gotten back to Jackie. President Kennedy wasn't the only man the sisters may have clashed over. Lee got involved with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, and she was quite taken with him.

Lee later introduced her sister to Onassis, in fact. She asked him to invite Jackie on his yacht to recuperate after the death of her son Patrick, who died barely more than a day after he was born in 1963, per Vanity Fair. And after the assassination of her husband, Jackie found solace with Onassis again, and a relationship eventually developed between the two. The pair wed in 1968, which couldn't have helped with the tension between Jackie and Lee. But some sources indicate that Lee supported Jackie's relationship with Onassis, per People magazine. By marrying Onassis, Jackie now had access to tremendous wealth.

Did Jackie hold a grudge in the end?

The differences between Jackie and Lee's economic circumstances widened after the death of Aristotle Onassis in 1975, per Vanity Fair. Jackie received $20 million from his estate plus an additional $6 million to cover related taxes, although the couple had been in divorce proceedings at the time of his death. Jackie managed to parlay that money into a $150 million fortune.

Perhaps the most revealing insight about the rift between Jackie and Lee surfaced after Jackie's death in 1994. In her will, Jackie left Lee nothing, according to People magazine. Jackie gave Lee's two children $500,000 each, but she intentionally excluded her sister. Jackie knew that Lee had struggled financially over the years, but she chose to only point out in her will that she omitted her sister on purpose because she had provided for her during her lifetime.

As J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of "Jackie, Janet and Lee," explained to People magazine, there were times that Lee and Jackie were loving sisters to each other. But they were never really able to communicate well and sort out their issues. And although she had the economic resources, Jackie chose not to offer her sister freedom from financial worry in the end.