Michael Jackson’s death leaves Prince Michael, 12, Paris Michael Katherine, 11, and 7-year-old Prince Michael II in limbo
Life was never ordinary for Michael Jackson’s three children, raised in a world of midnight shopping sprees, Neverland adventures and trips around the world with their eccentric father, who hid them behind veils.
His death leaves the “Jackson Three” — Prince Michael Joseph Jackson Junior, 12, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7 — in limbo. Their future is expected to be set out in his will, but the stage is set for a three-way custody battle between the Jackson family, Debbie Rowe — Jackson’s former wife and mother of the eldest two — and even the children’s Rwandan nanny.
Family members including Jackson’s mother, Katherine, have already offered to take care of the children following the singer’s sudden death. Brian Oxman, the Jackson family lawyer, said last night: “Probably Mrs Jackson will take care of them, she loves them dearly.”
The children have been living with their father and grandmother for the past six months in a rented mansion in Los Angeles.
Prince Michael Joseph Jackson Junior and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson were born during the star’s second marriage to Ms Rowe. The Australian, who divorced Jackson in 1999, gave up all parental rights after a legal battle. A lawyer yesterday, however, was quoted as saying that these rights were not actually terminated, raising the possibility that she will seek access to her children.
In further signs of the potential custody struggle, Stacey Brown, a family friend and co-author of a book on Jackson, told ABC News that he had wanted Grace Rwaramba, his children’s Rwandan nanny, to care for them if anything happened to him.
Mystery surrounds the children, conceived in unusual circumstances. Observers question whether Jackson is even the true father, noting the light colour of their skin.
The eldest two were born to Ms Rowe, 50, who used to work as a nurse for Jackson’s dermatologist before marrying the singer in 1996. The surprise wedding took place in Sydney, Australia, when she was six months pregnant with Prince Michael.
The marriage ended soon after the arrival of Paris, who was born in April 1998. Ms Rowe, who lives in Palmdale near Los Angeles, filed for divorce six months later. As part of the settlement, Jackson said she “gifted” him custody of the children.
It is unclear whether Rowe will demand access to her son and daughter. Adding to the intrigue, she told a newspaper last year that she conceived both times through artificial insemination but refused to give details, fuelling speculation about paternity.
Even less is known about Jackson’s youngest son, nicknamed “Blanket”. Prince Michael II was born in 2002 to an anonymous surrogate mother, apparently after she was fertilised with Jackson’s sperm. Pictures of the infant were beamed around the world in November of that year when Jackson suddenly dangled him, with a blanket over his head, off the balcony of his fourth-floor suite at a Berlin hotel as hundreds of screaming fans gathered below. The stunt drew widespread criticism of Jackson and raised concerns about his suitability as a father.
The children enjoy star treatment wherever they go, but their lives are also quite isolated. The three have never attended school, instead being taught at home.
Behind closed doors, the girl and her two brothers must feel alone after the death of their father.