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Peaches Geldof dead: A woman who barely had a moment to live away from the public gaze

  • @iburrell

Just before she died Peaches Geldof posted on the Internet an Instagram shot of herself as a small child being held by her mother Paula Yates, the pair of them with their hair tied up with colourful bows.

The image was pored over online this evening as parallels were inevitably drawn between the tragic fates of mother and daughter. In her short life, Peaches barely had a moment to live away from the public gaze. She was born at the end of the Eighties to an extraordinary father who had become one of the most famous men of that decade as he persuaded the world to face up to African famine and then staged the greatest live concert ever seen to help fund that campaign.

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With a sister called Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches became an immediate source of fascination for the rapidly expanding celebrity media culture and her flamboyant mother, the television presenter Paula Yates, appeared hopelessly drawn to that spotlight.

It was a childhood marked by successive tragedies and instability, despite the efforts of a father who tried to balance his paternal responsibilities with global fame and a wife who chased excitement.


When Peaches was seven, Ms Yates and Mr Geldof divorced, shortly before her mother gave birth to another daughter with her new partner Michael Hutchence, the Australian rock singer with whom she had been conducting a long affair. The following year, 1997, Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room.

Peaches and her two sisters returned to Mr Geldof as her mother’s behaviour became increasingly erratic. Ms Yates was found dead from a heroin overdose in September 2000, when Peaches was 11 years old.

She has since described how it had taken many years of her childhood to come to terms with the loss of her mother. “I remember the day my mother died, and it's still hard to talk about it. I just blocked it out. I went to school the next day because my father's mentality was 'Keep calm and carry on',” she said in an interview with Elle magazine two years ago. “So we all went to school and tried to act as if nothing had happened. But it had happened. I didn't grieve. I didn't cry at her funeral. I couldn't express anything because I was just numb to it all. I didn't start grieving for my mother properly until I was maybe 16.”

By then she had begun a media career of her own, writing a column for Elle at the age of 15 before going on to host her own television show “OMG! With Peaches Geldof” on ITV2.

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She became one of the best-known socialites of her age group. A constant presence in the showbiz photo columns and a celebrity DJ in London clubs, Peaches was living the life craved by her peers in the provinces and the suburbs. But she claimed bitterly that the press coverage that came with her fame falsely branded her as “this drug-addicted, shoplifting, bisexual, husband-cheating-on diva”. Stating that she had stopped using drugs she added: “I’m not Amy Winehouse.”

She had married for the first time when still in her teens but the marriage lasted six months. With her second marriage, to rock singer Thomas Cohen, came motherhood and two boys. Peaches finally seemed to have found some stability.

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In an interview Mr Cohen described her as “funny and clever and open” as he looked forward to their family future. "From the moment we went out with each other I knew that I didn’t want to spend a day away from her really for the rest of my life,” he said.