The ultimate Price of fame: As she checks into rehab for the third time in three years after crashing her car in a drink and drug-fuelled binge, fallen reality TV star Katie Price is suffering the glare of a life in public, writes ALISON BOSHOFF
Whatever you might say about Katie Price, and over the years there has certainly been plenty to say, one thing that can’t be denied is that she loves her children — and they love her.
It was evident in the way she fiercely, doggedly, tenderly cared for her severely disabled son Harvey, 19, in an at times heartbreaking documentary aired earlier this year, which charted her efforts to find him support as he moved from the child to adult care system.
And it was evident again yesterday, in the messages her two other teenagers, Junior, 16, and Princess, 14, posted on Instagram. ‘Love you mum,’ wrote Junior, with Princess adding: ‘Love u mum so much.’
Their words will surely have provided comfort for the mother-of-five as she prepared to go into residential treatment at The Priory, a private clinic for mental health and addiction problems. It will be her third time there in three years.
For after an increasingly calamitous few years including bankruptcy, heartbreak and an ever more terrifying series of facial surgeries, the woman who once trilled the jaunty catchphrase, ‘Never underestimate the Pricey’ has truly hit rock bottom.
The 43-year-old admitted three charges of drink-driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance at Crawley Magistrates’ Court yesterday, after flipping her BMW in a smash early on Tuesday morning.
Mother-of-five Price will check into The Priory rehab clinic today after flipping her car near her Sussex home before dawn after an all-night alcohol and cocaine bender (pictured in 2017)
She had been drinking alcohol and taking cocaine, and the court heard she told police at the scene: ‘I took drugs, I should not be driving, I admit it all.’
Her family feared she had killed herself or been seriously injured in the accident. In a public statement later, they begged her to get help for her mental health issues — a plea it seems she has finally heeded.
Friends say her separation from Harvey, who this month was moved into a residential college in Gloucestershire, has played a large part in the current crisis. She was ‘heartbroken’ to put him into the college but feared that, at 6 ft 2 in and weighing nearly 29 st, he could be sectioned under the Mental Health Act if he had a meltdown.
Phone calls in which he would beg her: ‘Mummy I miss you, I need your kisses and cuddles,’ left her increasingly distressed. Friends say her partying had ‘ramped up’ over recent weeks and the court heard she had got behind the wheel because she felt lonely and wanted to see a friend.
It follows a mysterious assault on her at home in the early hours of August 23 — which left her with a bruised face and ‘shaken’ — and a horrifying round of plastic surgery in June that made her fear for her life. At this month’s National TV Awards, she was accused of being drunk, and flirting embarrassingly with a much younger stranger.
It’s all a far cry from the days when ‘Jordan’, as the former glamour model was then known, was a regular fixture on our TV screens. She was said to be worth £45 million at the peak of her fame.
But if there was ever a cautionary example of the negative effects of celebrity, of the terrible troughs that can befall those with a burning desire for fame, it is surely Katie Price’s unhappy life story — in which her love of the limelight has seen her make and lose a fortune and now sink into a state of lonely despair.
So, how did she get to this point? Born Katrina Infield in Brighton, she was a sporty, horse-mad young girl and talented swimmer who competed for Sussex in regional events.
‘My childhood was all about fresh air and staying healthy,’ she has said.
A photograph tweeted by a police officer showed a damaged BMW lying on its side across both lanes of a country road near West Grinstead yesterday, its front lodged in the hedgerow
Her parents split up when she was four and her mother Amy remarried, having son Daniel and daughter Sophie with builder Paul Price.
‘My entire family is really brainy,’ Katie has said. ‘I’m the Del Boy of the family. My mum says it’s because I don’t listen. I’m more of an instinct girl; everything goes in one ear and out the other.’
She certainly ignored her mother’s advice not to be a model. A naturally pretty girl, she was told that at 5ft 5in she was too short to be a fashion model. Undaunted, she sent pictures of herself to a glamour agency.
Aged just 18 she was on The Sun’s Page 3 for a week, and soon afterwards had the first of many breast surgeries to boost her figure — to her mother’s horror.
‘I hated the topless modelling with a passion,’ Amy said. ‘We didn’t understand why she had all the breast surgeries, because she didn’t need them.
‘At 17, a photographer told her she needed to be bigger. I was so angry. I phoned the surgeon and said: ‘You can’t do this, you need my permission.’
‘When she was 18 she phoned on her way down to the operating theatre, so it was too late to stop it. She thought it was the only way she’d be successful.’ Amy added: ‘I’ve disagreed with every procedure she’s ever had. Maybe she does it because she doesn’t feel she’s attractive enough, or maybe it’s body dysmorphia. Part of the problem is she gets her surgeries free, so someone is always capitalising on her name.’
Going by the name Jordan, Katie went on to turn the minor renown of glamour modelling into a juggernaut of a media career. Long before the days of Love Island, and plastic surgery becoming a disturbing norm for young women, Katie had already cottoned on to the fact that an ever changing face and figure would make her a fortune.
She has said: ‘I enjoyed doing reality [TV]. That was me expressing myself. I don’t know what it’s like to live a normal life.’
Her liaison with footballer Dwight Yorke resulted in the birth of Harvey in 2002 — and a tussle during which Yorke attempted to deny paternity.
Price pictured driving through London after being charged for driving while banned and uninsured
Shortly after the birth she learned that Harvey, who is autistic and partially blind, showed symptoms of Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes a wide range of physical symptoms, learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
A regular in OK! magazine, in 2004 she became more famous still during a stint on I’m A Celebrity alongside pop singer Peter Andre. After falling in love on screen, the pair signed up to make a number of fly-on-the-wall series for ITV, and went on to marry a year later in a £1.75 million Cinderella-themed wedding at Highclere Castle. Children Junior and Princess followed.
She remodelled herself as an author, selling nearly four million books, including seven autobiographies, several novels and a dozen books about horses.
But in 2009 the pair separated, and the children now spend much of their time with Andre and his new wife, a doctor, who live ten minutes away from the house Katie is renting in Sussex.
She carried on making ITV shows, which covered her 2010 marriage to cage fighter Alex Reid. They divorced in 2012 — and in 2013 she married bodybuilder Kieran Hayler. They had children Jett and Bunny, now aged seven and six, but it was a rocky liaison that included two vow renewals and Hayler being treated for ‘sex addiction’ after having an affair with one of her friends.
They split in 2018 and divorced this year, sharing custody of the two children.
She commented: ‘I just pick t*****s, don’t I? My mum has embarrassed me so many times. She’ll say to the latest boyfriend: ‘Have you got a job? Or are you just going to ponce off my daughter?’ It turns out she’s always right.’
Price told Good Morning Britain of her pain that being disqualified from driving meant she could not visit her disabled son Harvey (pictured on September 9) at his residential college
During these years, there was surgery after surgery — 12 on her breasts alone. Worried onlookers commented that she was looking increasingly more alien.
Throughout it all she — outwardly at least — seemed to maintain an optimistic outlook. But by 2017, there was too much misfortune in her life for even her Teflon mindset to process. Her mother was diagnosed with a terminal condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Then, in 2018, Price was car-jacked on a family holiday in South Africa. She has since revealed that she was sexually assaulted during the robbery but didn’t feel strong enough to pursue it.
Meanwhile, husband Hayler cheated on her again, which spelled the end of the marriage. Within 12 months she had met and got engaged to a new man, fitness trainer Kris Boyson, but they split a month later.
She said in 2019: ‘Last year, it was an awful year . . . I was self medicating on a drug, cocaine, I’m not proud of it. I’ve never been up that track before, I went to the doctor and it was the hardest thing ever to say: ‘I need help, I’m at breaking point.’
‘I went to The Priory, someone assesses you and I was in there for severe trauma and depression.’
She shared that the early trauma of a sexual assault by a stranger in a park when she was only seven had been compounded by all of her other problems, and that she had become overwhelmed after the attack in South Africa.
More trouble came when she was declared bankrupt in 2019; she was said to owe creditors £3.5 million. Shamelessly, she attended one video call insolvency meeting from a luxury hotel in the Maldives.
After an increasingly calamitous few years including bankruptcy, heartbreak and an ever more terrifying series of facial surgeries, the woman who once trilled the jaunty catchphrase, ‘Never underestimate the Pricey’ has truly hit rock bottom (Pictured following surgery in 2019)
Meanwhile her house in Sussex was said to be uninhabitable — her former caretaker revealed that it was filled with junk and desperately unhygienic. There was a fire there, and a flood.
At the time of the crash she was filming a show for Channel 4 about the renovation with new fiance Carl Woods, a former Love Island contestant.
Dealing with Harvey was a crisis, too — he broke televisions and iPads, and smashed walls.
By January 2020 she was back in The Priory, during which time she has since said she had a complete nervous breakdown. She revealed that, on arrival, she begged staff: ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to kill myself, help me.’
During a trip to Turkey in July last year, she broke both her feet after jumping over a wall, leaving her needing to learn to walk again and with more mental trauma.
In an interview in October last year, she said: ‘What people seem to forget is, I am a working mother of five, I’ve never taken any money off the government, I’ve supported my kids. Everything I’ve done I’ve done myself, and people still slag me. I just want to be in that family unit, that’s all I want, that fairytale, it’s all I’ve ever wanted.’
Yet the fairytale remained ever distant. In July this year, feeling she needed a boost after putting on weight during lockdown, she booked a ‘fox eyes’ lift, a lip lift and a cheek lift in Turkey. The results were horrifying.
‘I’ve gone to hell and back, it was horrific,’ she said. ‘I just thought, ‘I’m going to die’. I was terrified of looking like a freak, like that Bride of Wildenstein or a fake doll. I’ve woken up with holes and stitches all over my body.’
Yet still, she seemed determined to fight on. Her acclaimed documentary, Katie Price: Harvey And Me, was to be followed by another, What Harvey Did Next.
How desperately sad that her struggles are far from over.
Now, as she attempts to pick up the pieces of her life once again, her loved ones hope she can find that iron will. Yesterday her fiance Carl wrote on Instagram: ‘Katie is a rough diamond. The sunlight will shine through her once again and the sparkles she brings to everyone will return.’