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Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK

World: Americas

Kennedys crave privacy

Senator Ted Kennedy has tried to protect the family's privacy

When John F Kennedy Junior was buried at sea with his wife and sister-in-law on Thursday, it was easier than usual to keep the public and press at a respectable distance.

Kennedy Tragedy
Since his death, one of the most famous families in America has tried to keep publicity to a minimum.

JFK Jnr had managed to keep the ceremony private when he married Carolyn Bessette in 1996. His family has been trying to guard the couple's privacy in death.

According to family members, Mr Kennedy had expressed a wish to be buried at sea, and the final decision was taken by his sister Caroline.

[ image: JFK Jnr learnt to love the sea on his earliest holidays with his father]
JFK Jnr learnt to love the sea on his earliest holidays with his father
Some within the family had wanted a ceremony on land. And some Americans were shocked that he was not buried beside his parents - President John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.

But others were concerned that his grave would turn into a spectacle, becoming a tourist attraction like Elvis Presley's tomb in Gracelands.

"Now no one can bother him," said one of the thousands of people who gathered on the dock in Martha's Vineyard.

The burial at sea was carried out less than two days after the bodies were found. The media were not invited. And it took place out of sight and earshot of any observers on shore.

The Kennedy and Bessette families are reported to have decided on Sunday that as soon as the bodies were found they would to try to bring the saga to a swift end.

Reports also say the Kennedy family asked that no photographs be taken of Mr Kennedy's body during the autopsy, in case they fell into press hands.


The main burden of dealing with the publicity surrounding the tragedy has fallen on Mr Kennedy's uncle - Senator Ted Kennedy, the youngest of eight brothers and sisters.

Promoted from kid brother to family patriarch, Senator Kennedy had to bury President John F Kennedy in 1963 and Robert Kennedy five years later, both the victims of an assassin's bullet.

"He's been trying to reach out to as many family members as possible," a source close to the family told AFP news agency.

[ image: A musician adds his own tribute at an impromptu memorial]
A musician adds his own tribute at an impromptu memorial
Senator Kennedy himself was said to be doing "as well as can be expected".

But some friends said he was near to breaking point. He has suffered from recurrent back problems.

When the three bodies were recovered from the seabed wreck, it was Senator Kennedy and his two sons who reclaimed them for the family.

Senator Kennedy also issued the statement acknowledging the death of JFK Jnr, his wife and sister-in-law.

During the mission to find Mr Kennedy's plane, flights were banned within five miles of the search site.

The family have been keeping a low profile since the trio were reported missing.

It was several days before the flag on the family home at Hyannisport was lowered to half-mast, and relatives gave no press conferences.

Caroline Kennedy, JFK Jnr's sister, went cycling from her Long Island holiday home on Wednesday without acknowledging reporters.

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