After two decades, it’s a marriage that has proved all the doubters wrong. But what keeps the Beckhams together and how have they survived their toughest tests?
They said it would never last, but 20 years on, despite rumours of affairs, rifts and rows, David and Victoria Beckham have defied the odds to show theirs is one of the strongest marriages in showbiz.
With four children, palatial homes in Britain and America and a joint fortune of around £800million, the couple have also created the most successful family brand in the world – Kim and Kanye lag behind with a paltry £500million.
In recent interviews David himself described married life as “hard work”, and Victoria admitted she was terrified that by the time they hit their 20th anniversary three months ago they would have nothing left to say to each other. But loved-up Instagram snaps of a romantic break in Paris together in July told a very different story.
According to a friend: “Right now they are in an entirely different place compared to recent years.”
A year into their relationship, Spice Girl Victoria Adams and England footballer David Beckham, already dubbed Posh and Becks in the media, announce their engagement after Goldenballs popped the question over dinner in HertfordshireIt’s totally true they’ve had some bad moments during their marriage – who hasn’t? But getting to the 20 mark was a massive thing for both of them, which just made them feel incredibly lucky and sort of helped them really appreciate each other.
They’ve gone from a gooey romantic love to a really strong love. They see themselves as family, as parents and soulmates. And they are really proud of each other. It’s a genuinely good time.”
According to celebrity legend, the couple met at a charity football match in 1997, and David – back then just an up-and-coming star – immediately fell head over heels for Posh Spice, AKA Victoria Adams, who was at the time one of the most famous pop stars in the world.
This, however, is not quite the story. It was actually Victoria who had spotted David on television and asked the band’s manager Simon Fuller to arrange a trip to Manchester where she could “bump” into him.
The Posh and Becks romance quickly became front-page news. They were engaged after a year and had their first child Brooklyn within two.
They married in a lavish £1.5million ceremony four months after Brooklyn’s birth at Luttrellstown Castle near Dublin, with Victoria insisting on thosefamous gold thrones for the bride and groom to sit on during the celebrations.
As her former Spice Girl buddy Mel B exclusively reveals to Fabulous: “From day one that was it. You could see it in both of their eyes. We were a real girl gang, and no one was allowed to have a boyfriend without him being interrogated by the rest of the band and given a tough ride.
Victoria begged us to be nice to David. He was so sweet and shy and there was no way she was going to let us give him a hard time. She made that completely clear.
“Their wedding day was perfect. I remember looking at them and thinking these two would be unbreakable. It wasn’t just that they were besotted with each other, it was the fact they could make each other laugh.
“Vicky is one of the funniest women on the planet and she is completely herself when she’s with him. They’ve grown up together, they know each other inside out, they’ve got through good times and bad times and that’s a real relationship.
Vicky’s parents have been married forever and she is made of the same stuff as her mum Jackie. There was no way she was ever going to lose David because he’s the most important person in her life and always will be.”
But it has been Victoria who has faced the toughest moments in their marriage. While David has more or less remained Britain’s favourite footballing hero, she has often been unfairly cast as the miserable, moody wife who didn’t “deserve” her heart-throb husband.
After the Spice Girls split in 2000, she went from global superstar to mummy WAG, trying out a solo pop career while trying to fit in with the likes of Coleen Rooney and Elen Rivas, getting hair extensions and a boob job.
When Beckham played for Real Madrid in 2003, she moved to Spain with Brooklyn and Romeo (then just four and 12 months old), but within a year her world was rocked by allegations that David had embarked on an affair with his personal assistant Rebecca Loos – something Victoria refuses to talk about to this day.
David himself has never directly referenced Rebecca’s claims of a four-month fling, merely making a statement about “ludicrous stories”.
“Victoria has developed a shut-down policy,” says a source close to the family. “She’s a tough cookie and she has learnt how to deal with all the crap that gets thrown her way.
The Beckhams make a display of unity on the red carpet after claims David had an affair with then PA Rebecca Loos“She has cut down her circle so she’s only surrounded by people she trusts – largely family and a few very close friends. If there are stories of affairs flying around she will not address them. She believes in David, she believes in her marriage and she thinks if you falter and show doubt you are letting other people win.”
Interestingly, it was post Rebecca Loos that Brand Beckham began in earnest. In 2005 VB gave birth to their third son Cruz and started making inroads into the fashion world, designing a denim collection for Rock & Republic and strutting the catwalk for Roberto Cavalli.
In 2007 they were paid £12million to launch David’s first fragrance in America, paving the way for them to move to the US that year, where they took the brand international.
There are many who believe the fact that the Beckhams redefinition of their marriage into a business is the reason they have overcome so many previous challenges.
“They became a power couple,” says a former colleague. “And it’s true it helped keep them together as Victoria knew from the outset that it would. It was a smart move because they worked together and did fashion and magazine collaborations.
“It wasn’t just a cynical thing – it was a case of this allowing them to spend more time together. Yes it was business, yes it was a brand, but it also allowed them to be in each other’s lives as real partners. When they first met, Victoria was Queen Bee, but very soon he became the more famous one. As heads of a brand they were equals. It helped the marriage – both of them would admit that.”
The last time I saw Victoria at her London fashion HQ in 2015 to interview her for American Glamour, she talked about “brutal moments” in her life and marriage. “Things weren’t always great,” she told me. “I did have to find myself. I’ve definitely struggled, but I’ve always picked myself up.”
A source said the couple are happier ‘when they are together’. She gave me some fascinating personal insights, such as the fact she has a “tequila bell” she rings when she wants David to bring her a drink, and how she had to dash off to Marks & Spencer after our interview to pick up his favourite fondant fancies.
She told me that despite having achieved massive success as a designer of exquisite gowns, David “loves me best with no make-up and sweats. That’s when he tells me I look beautiful.”
Perhaps the main reason 2019 has been so sweet for the Beckhams is because 2018 was without question their toughest year yet, straining the relationship to the very limits.
David pulled out of financing her fashion business, began spending vast amounts of time in the States with his Miami football club, and not only were there reports of him flirting with supermodel Gigi Hadid, but in the summer rumours surfaced on social media about him fathering a baby with one of daughter Harper’s teachers.
It was categorically denied (David’s PR team referred to it as a “crock of s**t”), but when David went MIA on Victoria’s family cover shoot for Vogue, talk of a split went into overdrive.
“Victoria did what Victoria does,” explains a source. “She hunkered down, focused on the family, kept the ship on track and weathered the storm. Her parents were at her side constantly and David’s mum Sandra has become a real friend to Victoria.
“She admires her not just for being such a hard worker, but for always believing in her son. Victoria makes choices. She didn’t go on the Spice Girls tour because she is focused on fashion and family and that comes first.
“The lesson both of them have learnt in the 20 years they have been married and the 22 years they’ve been a couple is that they are stronger – and ultimately happier – when they are together.”