Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former US President John F Kennedy, commences her role as US Ambassador today (22 July).
Ms Kennedy takes up the position that has been vacant since Arthur Culvahouse left the role when Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as President 18 months ago.
In a video message released by the US Embassy on Wednesday (20 July), Ms Kennedy said she looks forward to working closely with the Albanese Government to “advance our shared democratic values, commitment to a peaceful and prosperous region, and transition to green energy”.
“What we do together in the next few years will determine the future of the region and the planet, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Ms Kennedy previously served as ambassador to Japan under the Obama Administration, when she also worked closely with Joe Biden. In December 2021, now-President Biden announced she would be the new ambassador to Australia. She was sworn in on 10 June 2022.
“I know that our countries are the strongest of allies and that our parents and grandparents fought side by side for more than 100 years,” she said.
“Their sacrifices have made it possible for us to live in two of the world’s greatest democracies – countries that share a commitment to individual freedom, the rule of law and economic opportunity.”
Her personal connection to Australia goes further.
“In 1943, my father’s PT boat was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. If not for the help of two Solomon Islanders and an Australian coast watcher, he and his crew would not have survived,” she said.
“He wanted to be the first sitting president to visit Australia, so I’m honoured to carry his legacy forward in my own small way.”
After her father’s assassination on 22 November 1963, Ms Kennedy’s mother remarried and the family moved to Greece to escape the limelight.
Ms Kennedy returned to the US to study a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University and then law at Columbia Law School, with her eye on becoming a full-time lawyer.
Instead, she settled on a job at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as a photojournalist. It was there on the red carpet of the Met Gala that she met her husband, designer and author Edwin Schlossberg.
The couple came to Australia for the first time in 1986 for their honeymoon. They and their three children, Rose, Tatiana and John returned in 2014 for a family holiday.
“We fell in love with the people we met and the places we went, and I can’t wait until our new grandson comes to visit,” Ms Kennedy said.
Back in the US, Ms Kennedy penned several books on the Constitution and essays for the New York Times, including one endorsing Barack Obama’s bid for president, entitled ‘A President Like My Father’. This earned her a spot on the Vice-Presidential Search Committee where she got to know Joe Biden.
In her new role, Ms Kennedy is eager to learn about Australia’s First Nations people and multicultural society, the environment and natural resources, as well as the “sports, snacks, and southern skies and oceans”.
“Please come up and say hello if you see me.”