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Brand Beckham was a genuine double act though, with Victoria's burgeoning status as a fashion icon adding to its appeal. Italian designer Roberto Cavalli was quick to spot the advertising potential of the most photographed couple in the world, and signed up Victoria in a lucrative deal to wear his clothes. Gone were the days when the Beckhams had to strike under-the-table deals with paparazzi photographers to ensure their pictures ended up in the papers. Now they were the darlings of the mass media, every detail of their enviable lifestyle became front-page news. In spite of consistent reports of marital infidelity, the couple had robustly maintained the illusion of glamor and success within a wholesome family setting. The Beckhams seemed to have it all. They had become the couple everyone envied, yet aspired to emulate.
With the couple's every move being watched and photographed, their summer holiday to St. Tropez attracted more media attention than Princess Diana in her heyday. They made headlines when they kissed and cuddled on a crowded public beach, while David set pulses racing when he posed in a pair of skimpy, white, Speedo swimming shorts. Even though Victoria said she "looked awful naked," millions of women disagreed, and her beachside look of straw Stetson hat, pendant necklace, and cheesecloth kaftan was instantly copied on the High Street.
The Beckhams were top of the guest list for every celebrity bash, joining models, entertainers, and royalty at Elton John's White Tie and Tiara summer ball in June. A month later, in London's Hyde Park, they headed the galaxy of stars taking part in Live 8, the charity pop concert organized by Bob Geldof under the slogan: "Make Poverty History." Egged on by his wife, David agreed to join actor Brad Pitt and comedian Ricky Gervais as one of the guest presenters at the prestigious event. As comfortable as he was with his celebrity, he was still nervous behind the microphone, and worried that he would fluff his lines when he came to introduce Robbie Williams before an estimated 3 billion worldwide TV audience. Backstage, Victoria was quick to assert her status as showbiz royalty, holding court with a host of celebrities. She smartly intervened when rapper Snoop Dogg invited her husband out for a night on the town. "Look Mr. Snoopy, you're not taking my husband out. I know all about your reputation!" she was heard to say.
A further sign of David's global appeal became apparent when the British government harnessed his celebrity to back London's 2012 Olympic bid. In early July 2005, the Beckhams flew to Singapore where the successful host nation was to be announced, to join Prime Minister Tony Blair and celebrities such as supermodel Kate Moss in frantic last-minute lobbying to boost the capital city's bid. In a passionate speech Beckham, who grew up in London's East End where it was proposed that the Games should be held, talked about his humble roots. "I have got friends who have children growing up in the East End of London," he said, "and they have said to me that to have the Olympics in our manor would be a special thing for kids to have inspiration from different athletes from all around the world."
The lobbying seemed to work. In a surprise victory, London was chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Games, beating off strong challenges from Paris, New York, and Barcelona.
David's evident love of his country led to renewed speculation that he was thinking of returning to a London soccer club, while conversely the U.S. media pondered a possible move to the States and a place as the star attraction in the MLS. There simply wasn't enough Beckham to go around. The man himself insisted he was staying in Spain. "At the moment, all I'm thinking about is playing and ending my career at Madrid and winning titles," he explained. "We've not won anything this season, so next season we have to win the league and the Champions' League. I want to win all the titles there are."
As much as Victoria was seduced by Hollywood, her husband was adamant that he had to focus on his soccer career. Not only did he genuinely want to win trophies with Real Madrid, but there was also the 2006 World Cup to think about. At the age of thirty, it would probably be his last chance to aim for a coveted winner's medal. Furthermore, his family was happy and settled. The boys were learning Spanish, they had made friends at their new schools, and they loved playing outside in the garden during the long, warm Mediterranean evenings. As much as Victoria was itching to move on, she had to admit that sunshine and Spanish life suited her young family.
Despite their jet-set lifestyle, family would always come first for the Beckhams. Away from the cameras and the glamor, they have always insisted that they lead a very normal life. Having both come from strong families, Victoria and David have always tried to create security and stability for their own children. They even took legal action against a British Sunday tabloid for suggesting that their "happy family" image was merely a front to protect their lucrative brand. In a statement, they said, "We do not deny that we promote ourselves as a happily married couple. We say that because it is true." However, the fact that they would have to prove this in court against a background of tabloid allegations pertaining to David's infidelity presumably is what caused the couple to drop the case.
They had paid a high price for Brand Beckham. The couple had become increasingly guarded about whom they let into their world. From their beautician to their nanny, everyone who worked for them had a story to tell and to sell. When the couple discovered that David's father was planning to release a book about his famous son, it seemed the last straw. A "glowing tribute" it may have been complete with snaps from the family album but David found it hard to come to terms with the fact that his own father was prepared to cash in on his name.
Wary about whom to trust, Victoria relied heavily on the help and support of her own parents. Even though three boisterous boys is a handful for any young mother, Victoria refused to entrust her sons' safety to anyone outside her family especially after Abbie Gibson's actions. While Victoria could always depend upon her parents or sister Louise for extra childcare, she also genuinely enjoyed being a hands-on parent. It was she who got the kids up and ready each morning before David took Brooklyn and Romeo to school. As parents, they insisted on old-fashioned good manners. Routine and order were the rule in the Beckham household, while any bad behavior was punished by a spell on the "naughty step."
Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2007 by Andrew Morton