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Jackie Kennedy's lost letters reveal heartbreak of post-JFK love

Newly-surfaced letters from former British ambassador David Ormsby-Gore reveal his anguish over a rejected marriage proposal to Jackie Kennedy.
/ Source: TODAY

A trove of letters discovered in January have provided a glimpse into a story of unrequited love between Jackie Kennedy and a British ambassador in the years after John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Letters belonging to British aristocrat David Ormsby-Gore detailing his relationship with Jackie tell the story of his heartbreak after she rejected his marriage proposal in 1968, five years after JFK's death.

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The letters are expected to fetch nearly $190,000 in an upcoming auction of items from his estate by Bonham's of London, whose proceeds will be used by his son to restore the family home.

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Jackie Kennedy's life in the aftermath of JFK's death, which is the subject of the recent movie "Jackie" written by NBC News president Noah Oppenheim, also included a close relationship with Ormsby-Gore.

Ormsby-Gore was the British ambassador to the United States, where he developed a bond with the Kennedys.

Newly-surfaced letters showed the heartbreak of David Ormsby-Gore, a former British ambassador to the U.S., over his marriage proposal to Jackie Kennedy being rejected. TODAY

Following JFK's death, Jackie and Ormsby-Gore remained close. Jackie attended the funeral of Ormsby-Gore's wife, Sylvia Thomas, who died in a car accident in 1967. The two later traveled to Cambodia together, sparking rumors of a romance.

"They were both bound by terrible, terrible loss and tragedy, and that obviously made them very close,'' Charlie Thomas, Director of House Sale and Private Collections Department at Bonham's, told Kate Snow on TODAY Friday.

"But you see as the letters get later in date that the relationship does develop further."

Ormsby-Gore proposed to her in 1968, but she turned him down and married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis later that year. His pain over her rejection is detailed in the letters.

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"All had become irrelevant trash to be thrown away within a few hours of my landing in New York,'' he wrote. "As for your photograph, I weep when I look at it."

"Maybe that is the trouble,'' Jackie wrote in 1968 letter. "You are like my beloved beloved brother - and mentor - and the only original spirit I know as you were to Jack."

The two both experienced terrible tragedy in addition to losing their spouses. Ormsby-Gore also served as a pallbearer at the funeral of Kennedy's brother, Robert F. Kennedy, after his assassination in 1968, and endured the suicide of his own daughter in 1974.

"If ever I can find some healing and some comfort it has to be with someone who is not part of all my world of past and pain,'' she wrote to him in November 1968 on stationery from Onassis' yacht.

He went on to marry American Pamela Colin in 1969, but remained friends with Jackie. She was at his funeral in 1985, shaken by the death of her "beloved brother."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.