There are some families whose names are synonymous with tragedy. Like the Kennedys. And the Gettys. Today, the Geldofs have taken their distressing place among these famous families with news of the sudden death of 25-year-old Peaches Geldof.
The second daughter of Sir Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, Peaches was herself the mother of two baby boys, Phaedra, 11 months and Astala, 23 months. She has left behind a husband, Thomas Cohen and three sisters, Fifi (31) and Pixie (23), and Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof (17), herself orphaned after the death of her father Michael Hutchence followed by her mother Paula Yates.
The cause of Peaches’ death is still unknown – but authorities say it was “sudden, unexpected” and “not suspicious”.
This means an autopsy will be required to determine the exact circumstances of her death.
In a statement released this morning, Peaches’ father Sir Bob Geldof said:
“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
How so much tragedy could hit one family is difficult to fathom.
On 17 September 2000 – on Pixie Geldof’s 10th birthday – Paula Yates, Bob’s former wife, was found dead at her home in London after a heroin overdose.
The coroner found that it was not suicide, but the result of “incautious” behaviour. The death of their mother affected Fifi, Peaches, Pixie and Tiger Lily deeply – and in recent months Peaches has spoken about how Yates’ death has shaped her.
In 2013, Peaches told Elle magazine:
“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. “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.”
The last picture Peaches posted to Instagram before she died, was of her and her late mother, Paula Yates. It was captioned “Me and my Mum”.
This tragedy, of course, was inexorably linked to another: that of Michael Hutchence’s, lead singer of INXS, death in 1997. The coroner ruled that Hutchence’s death was a suicide. He had struggled with depression, and was under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Yates and Hutchence were together at the time of his death.
The couple first met in 1985 during a television interview – while Yates was still married to Bob Geldof. Geldof and Yates divorced in 1996.
Soon after Yates’ death, Bob Geldof assumed foster custody of Hutcence and Yates’s daughter, Tiger Lily – the half sister of his own girls. Then, in 2007, Geldof applied for – and was granted – formal adoption of Tiger Lily, and changed her last name. Since 2008, her legal full name has been Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof.
Tiger Lily lost both her parents. Fifi, Peaches and Pixie lost their mother. Now they, and their father, have also lost Peaches.
This legacy of grief is now passed on to Peache’s sons: Astala Dylan Willow and Phaedra Bloom Forever. History has repeated itself in the most devastating way.