Above all she sought to preach the virtues of a little decorum as a brash new-money age of celebrity washed away the values of old. “Many people feel we’ve lost all sense of taste,” she noted in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily in 2007, making no secret of the fact that she was one of them. “Notoriety is what counts, and what sells. As far as excellence, half the people don’t even recognise it when they see it. These celebrity fashion icons, if they have screamingly bad taste, no one seems to care. When [Barbra Streisand] wears nightgowns for her fourth wedding and puts her bosoms in people’s faces, everyone thinks that’s the way to behave.” Jacqueline Kennedy, by contrast, “did not know a moment of bad taste.”
The obituary has some funny anecdotes, because despite being a little pretentious in her early years (which she readily admits) she did find a gracious ability to laugh at herself over her many faux-pas.
The catalogue of calamity began in June 1947, she admitted, when she was invited through her father to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace. It was crowded and, turning from one conversation she stretched out a leg over which a large figure tripped and was sent flying. It was Winston Churchill. “I wanted to die,” she said.
Priceless! I did mention etiquette in the ACW book, since it is usually a constructive body of rules that are based on basic charity. Most etiquette is filled with lovely courtesies, but when there is no faith to keep it focused, it does have a tendency to devolve into meaningless trifles that become increasingly exclusive.
RIP, dear sister, and thank you for returning to your duties when President Kennedy was assassinated. Your strength and guidance helped the country through the crisis.