By now, we all know that I love a good curse. I’m fascinated by them. Maybe that’s because the feeling of impending dread handed down by generations of hereditary trauma resinates with me. So, before we turn this into an open therapy session, let’s explore some of the most infamous cases of freaky family curses.
The Kennedy Family
When generational curses are on the menu, the Kennedys are usually the chefs. Poor metaphors aside, the Kennedy’s have garnered an infamous reputation over the decades, which some have suggested is the result of a generational curse.
Some claim the so called curse befell the descendants of Joseph P. Kennedy, businessman with political prominence, although some speculate it goes further back to the family’s Irish roots. Whatever the origin, the Kennedy’s are well renowned for the untimely and often tragic deaths of their clan, which include:
- Five separate plane crashes – although Ted Kennedy, one of the most infamous Kennedys, survived his 1964 plane crash, and when on to accidentally drive his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, causing the death of his 28 year old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy fled the scene and did not report the accident until the next morning.
- The assassinations of president John F. Kennedy in 1963 and his brother Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
- A skiing accident which killed Michael LeMoyne Kennedy in 1997
- Two drug overdoses – one thought to be accidental, the other considered suicide
- The 2020 deaths of Maeve Kennedy McKean and her eight year old son Gideon in a tragic canoe accident.
Other incidents include, but are not limited to:
- Rosemary Kennedy, eldest daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy who was deprived of oxygen at birth, thought to be the cause of learning difficulties, mood swings and seizures. Worried that her actions would tarnish the political futures of his sons, Joseph arranged for Rosemary to undergo a lobotomy, which left her both physically and mentally incapacitated. She was institutionalises for the rest of her life.
- Two more car crashes – one of which left a passenger paralysed.
Although one could argue that a powerful, influential and affluent family may be at greater risk of succumbing to such tragedies – most of us don’t routinely travel by small, private aircraft or have powerful political relatives who are targeted by assassins – but the sheer volume of incidents have led many to believe some sort of curse is afoot.
Even Ted Kennedy, who we mentioned above, is quoted as wondering “if some awful curse did actually hang over the all the Kennedys”, although this was a following the Chappaquiddick incident, which he was, arguably, desperate to avoid responsibility from.
The Guinness Family
From one cursed family with Irish roots to another, the Guinnesses, famous creators of the legendary stout which bares their name, are also said to have fallen foul of a generational curse.
Sir Arthur Guinness, 18th century founder of the Dublin based brewery, lost 11 of his 21 children, and although child mortality rates were much higher back then, many insist this is the first recorded incident of the family curse rearing her ugly head.
For the descendants of Sir Arthur Guinnes, alcoholism, insanity and unnatural deaths followed. One of the most prominent of of those who fell to the supposed curse was Walter Edward Guinness, better known as Lord Moyne. In 1944, Lord Moyne and his chauffeur were shot and killed by members of the group, Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.
Even before this, Lord Moyne’s daughter in law left the family to embark on an affair with Sir Oswald Mosley, who was about to become the founder go the British Union of Fascists, which was exactly what it sounds like. Adolf Hitler was a guest at the wedding of the couple, who were later imprisoned during WW2.
Later, another Guinness heir, Patrick ‘Tara’ Browne, who counted the likes Bowie, Hendrix and the Beatles among his friends, crashed his sports car in southwest London and died at age 21. The accident went on to inspire the Beatles song, “A Day in the Life”.
Car accidents seemed to follow the Guinnesses, with Lady Henrietta Guinness, barley survived her own car accident before tragically taking her own life at age 35 in 1978, which also saw relative, John Guinness, survive his own accident – although his four year old son was not so lucky.
1978 proved to be an awful year for the family, when another member died from a drug overdose, and another was found dead in his Hampshire cottage.
The tragedy continued with the kidnap (and thankfully, return) of the wife of John Guinness, although the former died two years later from a fall from the Snowden mountain range in mid Wales. A handful of freak accidents have also claimed additional family members up until as recently as 2020.
Does the Guinness clan carry a curse? Many seem to think so, but as is the case with the Kennedys, it’s possible that a large, prominent family just has a higher chance of misfortunes from living life in the fast lane?
The Nepalese Royal Family
In 2001, a slow burn of a supposed curse is said to have been fulfilled with the shocking events that took place at Narayanhiti Palace, residence of the Nepalese Royal Family.
The circumstances of the massacre are controversial – some say it was the family’s refusal to accept Prince Dipendra marriage, but others disagree – but there’s no denying it’s outcome.
On the 1st June, 2001, Prince Dipendra entered the palace whilst a party was being held, and shot dead nine members of his family, including his parents, King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, and his younger siblings. He then proceeded to shoot himself in the head.
Prince Dipendra survived for three days in a comatose state, during which time, he was declared King of Nepal.
According to some, this event was had actually been foretold more than 200 years before the massacre, and was the result of a curse.
The story goes that Prithvi Narayan Shah, the first king of Nepal, gave a bowl of curd to a yogi. The yogi, named Gorakhnath, proceeded to vomit back into the bowl and offer it to the king. In disgust, the king refused the offering, which fell from the bowl and onto the king’s ten toes.
Enraged, at the king’s pride, Goraknath placed a curse upon the dynasty, which he insisted would end after ten generations.
King Birendra, the murdered father, was the ninth generation. When Dipendra was declared king in his last days, he was the tenth.
After Dipendra’s death, his uncle Gyanendra ascended the throne, for five tremulous years, after which the monarchy was abolished after a revolution.
The Nepalese dynasty had fallen after ten generations, as Gorakhnath foretold.