The Kennedy Crash: The Family - As they were all preparing for the wedding, a chilling message came
Monday 19 July 1999
But by then, most of the rest of the world knew tragedy had returned to haunt America's most famous political dynasty as it had done so many times. Inside the compound, prayers were being said in desperate and fading hope for the life of the only son of the late President John F Kennedy. Within the walls of what the world came to know as Camelot - the Kennedy estate set in a picturesque town of clapperboard homes and rose hedges on the southern shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts - the clan was struggling to absorb an almost unthinkable reality.
Thirty-six hours after the private Piper plane of JFK vanished from radar screens off the island of Martha's Vineyard, no trace of him, his wife, Carolyn Bessette, or her sister, Lauren Bessette, had been found. That JFK, his wife and her sister had been heading here for a wedding deepens the agony.
Rory Kennedy is a daughter of the late Robert Kennedy - her mother, Ethel, was pregnant with her when RFK was shot to death in California in 1968. Nineteen months ago she cradled her dying brother Michael in her arms after a skiing accident at Aspen Colorado. This weekend, her wedding was postponed because of the presumed death of her cousin. All the clan gathered here on Saturday for her marriage to Mark Bailey, a book and film critic from New York. Many guests were visiting the tiny John F Kennedy Museum on Main Street on Saturday, when Pearl Guba, its manager made a grim announcement. "They were preparing to go to the wedding, some of them from Ireland, and they were totally shocked when we told them," he said. "It's a good thing John's mother, Jackie, died first. She was so fond of her son."
By yesterday, many of the guests in the compound, a main beachside house and several small cottages, had slipped discreetly away, leaving a core of family members. They included Senator Edward Kennedy, 67, the only principal member of the Kennedy cast to make it past middle age. And there were three priests who had come to Cap Cod to bless the wedding vows. Just 19 months ago the same priests had attended the funeral of Michael Kennedy.
On Saturday, a brief mass was said on the steps of the main house, overlooking a huge sweeping lawn, with 50 friends and family. In the streets of Hyannisport, yellow ribbons were wound round trees, tied by neighbours sharing in the grief and worry. "I think the family could use some hope," said Melissa Lewandowski, who put up one of the bows. "If they saw a yellow ribbon, they would know that the community is hoping with them."
The people of Hyannisport remember when the compound was an oasis of joy, the gathering point for family members to summer parties and days by the sea. But grief more often brings this clan together now. Janice Beechum, a local resident, said: "The only time everybody comes down here now is when there is a Kennedy tragedy."
At mid-afternoon on Saturday, a kite-flying party strayed on to the lawn. Later, RFK Jnr, another cousin of John's, was seen navigating a rocky breakwater on the beach with his small son on his shoulders.
But journalists from around the world were pressed up against police fences outside the compound yesterday, waiting for word from a family so practised in dealing with loss.
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...