Were John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy Headed for a Split Shortly Before They Died?

Were John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy Headed for a Split Shortly Before They Died?

One former RHONY 'Wife disputes the characterization of the Kennedy marriage — but a new book claims otherwise.

By Tamara Palmer
Carolyn Bessette, John F. Kennedy, Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, died in a plane crash in July 1999, and some of the circumstances surrounding their tragic death will always remain mysterious to the world at large. But now, 20 years after the tragic accident, new questions have emerged about the status of their three-year marriage prior to their deaths.

"John believed once he got married, the press would leave him alone,” Steven M. Gillon, author of new book The Reluctant Prince, said in an interview with PEOPLE. “He’d no longer be America’s most eligible bachelor. He’d be another married guy. And just the opposite happened.”

Gillon told the publication that his wife “felt trapped. Many close friends suspected that she had been self-medicating with drugs. The media was hounding her and she couldn’t figure out how to have a career. She was uncomfortable going out.”

At the same time as the marriage was starting to buckle under the strain, Gillon said, Kennedy's close friend Anthony Radziwill, the husband of The Real Housewives of New York City alum Carole Radziwill, was succumbing to cancer. That impending loss was taking its toll on Kennedy, and his wife deflected talk about starting a family in the midst of Radziwill's decline.

“The two most meaningful relationships in his life were coming to an end,” Gillon explained.

Gillon said Kennedy told an ex-girlfriend shortly before his death that he was afraid to be alone, and that he told another friend “he was going to separate from Carolyn, letting her know how serious things were and that they needed to make changes.”

However, Carole Radziwill has publicly disputed this characterization of their relationship.

"To say their marriage was on the rocks is just inaccurate," Carole told PEOPLE in January. "Anthony's impending death was a strain on their marriage, no doubt. But it was a difficult time for all of us. If it weren't, we would be inhuman." 

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