Peaches Geldof dead: Post-mortem set for today into 'unexplained and sudden' death
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Wednesday 09 April 2014
Peaches Geldof, the 25-year-old daughter of the musician Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, has been found dead at her Kent home.
A post mortem examination is due to be carried out today, Kent County Council said, after police confirmed that the death of the mother of two was being treated as "non-suspicious, but unexplained and sudden".
Ms Geldof’s body was discovered after police were called to the large house in Wrotham, near Sevenoaks, at 1.35pm on Monday.
A council spokesperson told The Independent her body had been transferred to Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, and that the examination into cause of death would be carried out by Dr Peter Jerreat, a consultant pathologist from the Home Office.
"Arrangements are in hand for the post mortem to be carried out tomorrow at the hospital," a statement read yesterday. "After the results of the post mortem have been received, the Coroner will officially open an investigation and decide whether an inquest is necessary."
A prolific user of social media, Ms Geldof had tweeted a picture of herself as a young child with her mother, who died from an accidental heroin overdose in 2000, at 10.17am on Sunday.
The message, which carried the caption "Me and my mum" and was sent to her 168,000 Twitter followers, was Ms Geldof's final posting.
Kent Police said officers had been called to the home she shared with her husband, singer Thomas Cohen, and their two young children, following "a report of concern for the welfare of a woman".
Me and my mum http://t.co/PNxLDVm887— Peaches Geldof (@peaches_g) April 6, 2014
The sudden death of the 25-year-old, who said in a recent interview that the birth of her children had given her a purpose missing since her own tragedy-scarred childhood, was greeted with shock and raw grief by her family and friends.
Sir Bob paid tribute to his daughter, the second of his three daughters with Ms Yates, from whom he divorced in 1996, as an irrepressible human being.
He said: "Peaches has died. We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us."
Mr Cohen, the singer of the rock band SCUM who married Ms Geldof in September 2012, said: "My beloved wife Peaches was adored by myself and her two sons Astala and Phaedra and I shall bring them up with their mother in their hearts everyday. We shall love her forever."
Ms Geldof, whose tempestuous family background meant she was never far from the media's gaze throughout her life, had become favourite object of paparazzi attention in her late teenage years as a fixture on London's party scene.
Talking about her image as one of the capital's "it girls", she said two years ago that the memory of the decline of her mother, whose longstanding affair with INXS singer Michael Hutchence came into the open in 1995 when she became pregnant with his child, had been a key factor in her ability to avoid spiralling into self-destruction.
In recent months, it was more likely she would be photographed walking with her baby son, Phaedra, and two-year-old son Astala, in the market towns of Kent, accompanied by the family's labrador, than the night spots of the West End. Underlining her credentials as a full-time mother, her slogan on her Twitter account read: "Waging a never-ending war against dirty nappies."
In an interview with Elle magazine in 2012, she said: "I did experiment with drugs, I did get drunk and go to parties, but I was never that wild. I could have been, I could have let myself spiral but all the time I remembered what happened to my mum."
Lilly Allen, the singer and a close friend of Ms Geldof, appealed for her family to be allowed to come to terms with her death with a degree of privacy not often accorded in life.
Ms Allen said: "My thoughts are with the Geldof's at this awful time. I hope they get to grieve in peace. Peaches, rest in peace gorgeous girl."
A friend, speaking last night, said: "This will tear the family apart. They all relied on Peaches so much, she had to be so strong for her sisters after Paula died. She had to grow up very fast to hold the family together.
"After a rollercoaster during her teenage years she had found happiness with Tom and her beautiful boys. It's devastating that she won't see them grow up.
"She defined a certain era in London and was the glue for a big group of friends. Lately she had removed herself from that but they were happy that she had built a new life away from the party scene."
Despite being born into one of the more flamboyant dynasties of British showbusiness, Ms Geldof, whose maternal grandfather was the gameshow host Hughie Green, was not lacking in self-awareness.
A police forensic officer outside the home of Peaches Geldof in Wrotham, Kent (PA)
Sister to Fifi Trixbelle, Pixie and half-sister to Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof, in later life, she once said her name was "ridiculous, I know".
But with a studiously dishevelled father who spanned the worlds of poverty alleviation, music and television production, and a mother whose trajectory went from huge fame to reckless despair, Ms Geldof and her family were rarely to be out of the spotlight.
Her parents divorced in 1996 when she was seven, after Yates had flirted outrageously on live television with Mr Hutchence.
She had previously told how she never really managed to get over the collapse of her family.
Speaking two years ago, she said: "I was completely aware of the whole situation, the transition of my mother who was amazing, who wrote books on parenting, who gave us this idyllic childhood in Kent; and who then turned into this heartbroken shell of a woman who was just medicating to get through the day."
She said her father was "very embittered and depressed" and her early life was a mix of "complete chaos" with Yates one week and then an "almost Dickensian" experience - "homework, dinner, bed" - at her father's house the next.
An Instagram image from Peaches Geldof showing herself with her mother Paula Yates (Getty Images)
Speaking about her mother's death, which happened when she was 11, she said: "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'."
"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 Peaches was becoming a public figure in her own right, beginning a column for Elle Girl in March 2004.
Her first column talked about the pressure that celebrity culture put on ordinary girls but such concerns did not stop her being pulled onto the public stage once occupied by her mother as a striking symbol of rebelliousness and hedonism.
In 2006, Tatler magazine placed her seventh on a list of its Top Ten Fashion Icons and in 2007 the readers of 'lads' mag' FHM decided she was the 53rd most sexy woman on the planet.
Ms Geldof complained stories of drug-taking were "wildly exaggerated".
But she was reportedly treated by paramedics after an overdose in July 2008, when she was said to have stopped breathing for a short time.
In the same year, at the age of 19, she married an American musician, Max Drummey, a month after they met. They divorced amicably six months later.
However, in 2012 she seemed to have found a lasting relationship when she married Mr Cohen. Their children, Astala Dylan Willow and Phaedra Bloom Forever, continue the familial fondness for out-of-the-ordinary names.
But controversy and a clumsiness with the world were also never far away.
In November last year, she apologised for tweeting the alleged identities of two mothers of children abused by former rock singer and "committed paedophile" Ian Watkins.
She also flirted with fringe religious movements, becoming a Scientologist in 2009. She also showed an interest in the Order of Oriental Templars, getting a heart-shaped tattoo with the letters OTO in apparent recognition of the group associated with sexual techniques.
But after a youth spent under the celebrity microscope, it seemed Ms Geldof had in more recent years left any youthful indiscretions behind and decided to achieve for her own children what had been denied to her.
As she put it after her son's birth: "Even if it's an archaic idea, I want Astala to have a mummy and daddy together for ever. It's a commitment. I want to be a good wife, a good mother, a good person."
Geldof family statement
"Peaches has died. We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. Writing “was” destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is. Tom and her sons Astala and Phaedra will always belong in our family, fractured so often, but never broken. Bob, Jeanne, Fifi, Pixie and Tiger Geldof”
Additional reporting by Jessica Barrett
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