Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The Beatle and the model

Heather Mills and Paul McCartney
The couple met in 1999

Sir Paul McCartney's relationship with Heather Mills, which has culminated in divorce proceedings at London's High Court, has always been in the media glare.

They first crossed paths while recording a charity single for people who had lost limbs in war zones in 1999.

Initially, the ex-Beatle and the former model denied having a love affair, saying their relationship was purely professional.

When they finally confirmed they were a couple, in October 2000, they chose the rather public arena of a television programme to make the announcement.

I thought he was very cute but it didn't enter my head that he fancied me
Heather Mills
"Yeah, I love her," Sir Paul admitted on the ITV show, Stars and their Lives, which was paying tribute to Mills' charity work.

The singer-songwriter, now 65, said he had pursued Heather after seeing her at an awards ceremony.

"I found out her telephone number - like you do - and rang her up and said we should talk about some charity stuff and I like what you're doing."

Mills told the TV programme: "I thought he was very cute but it didn't enter my head that he fancied me.

"At the end of one of the last meetings I got into a lift and just felt these eyes in my back.

"I turned round and saw him peeping round a corner."


The couple got engaged during a short break in the Lake District the following year.

"When I proposed I was a bit nervous but I managed," Sir Paul told the press, as Mills showed off a diamond and sapphire ring bought on a trip to India.

Heather Mills displays her engagement ring
The engagement ring was bought on a trip to India

Stories later circulated that the engagement ring had been thrown out of Florida hotel room window following a row.

There were also rumours that Sir Paul's children from his first marriage, to photographer Linda, disapproved of the relationship.

Sir Paul admitted that his new girlfriend had been a "big shock" for the children.

"She's actually younger than one of them," he said, "but I think they dealt with it very well actually".

Lavish wedding

The couple tied the knot in Ireland under great secrecy in the grounds of Castle Leslie, County Monaghan.

Security guards prevented the photographers and journalists from getting a glimpse of the preparations, and only one photograph was released to the press.

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills pose for cameras the day before their wedding
The couple wed in the Republic of Ireland

Three hundred guests, including Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, Sir George Martin, and all of Sir Paul's children, watched the couple exchange vows.

The lavish ceremony involved thousands of pounds' worth of flowers, and a five-minute firework display, which the newly-weds watched from an island in the castle grounds.

The couple had a child, Beatrice, in the autumn of 2003.

The couple faced repeated press criticism after their wedding, and blamed media intrusion for their eventual separation in May 2006.

Marriage breakdown

While they maintained that their parting was "amicable", press coverage following their split reached fever pitch in what appeared to be a war of words between the two parties.

In August 2006, Mills and her daughter were locked out of Sir Paul's London home, and the police were called after her security guard scaled the wall to let her in.

While she laughed off the incident, her spokesman added that the musician had frozen their joint bank account and complained that she had taken three bottles of cleaning fluid from his Sussex home.

In October 2006, the Daily Mail reported that Sir Paul had violently abused Mills during their marriage, claims it said came from court papers filed on her behalf.

Jonathan Roberts and Heather Mills
Heather Mills took to the dancefloor on US TV

The former Beatle sought to contest the allegations, while Mills said she would sue over earlier "false, damaging and immensely upsetting" claims connected to the divorce.

She later said she had received death threats and had "felt severely upset and depressed through these six months, but when I lost my leg I didn't".

In July 2007, a photographer was found guilty of assaulting Mills as he took her picture.

Mills' apparent plans to gain access to the couple's home also attracted attention.

Settlement reached

She carried a large pad which on which was written "I am seeking an order for occupation of the matrimonial home" in large letters.

The 40-year-old remained in the public eye, becoming the first contestant with an artificial limb to take part in US show Dancing With The Stars, making it to the sixth week.

Sir Paul, meanwhile, continued to play live and released his latest album through the Starbucks record label.

The couple's divorce proceedings finally came to London's High Court in February and were held behind closed doors. A settlement was reached on 17 March.

Full details of the 24.3m payout for Ms Mills have not been made public as she is appealing against publication of the ruling.

She said outside court that details in the ruling could affect the security of her daughter Beatrice. There is a stay in publication of the ruling until the appeal is heard.

video and audio news
A look at the McCartney marriage

'I love her, yeah', says Sir Paul
21 Oct 00 |  Entertainment
Sir Paul: How I proposed
27 Jul 01 |  Entertainment
McCartney and Mills greet public
12 May 08 |  Entertainment
Mills rejects 'gold digger' jibes
16 May 03 |  Entertainment
McCartney 'defends wife Heather'
16 Feb 04 |  Entertainment
McCartney and Mills expecting baby
28 May 03 |  Entertainment
The McCartneys v the Fur Trade
18 Apr 06 |  Real Story
Sir Paul McCartney: Rock royalty
30 Nov 01 |  Entertainment

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