Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily was born at 8h30 on July 22, 1996, weighing 6 pound 14 ounces (3.1kg). Her mother had elected to have her in her Chelsea home, and she was born in the bathtub, near the laundry basket, after a short labour and with two midwives and her father present.
The peaceful beginnings to Tiger's life was just as well, for her silly name is to be the least of her worries. Her first two names are really the source of embarassment: Heavenly "because she will be" and Hiraani, meaning Princess of the Beautiful Sky, as her father's favourite Polynesian word. Tigerlily, shortened to Tiger, is really getting off lightly compared to her sisters Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie.
In the months leading up to her birth, Tiger's mother, Paula Yates, had been in a bitter custody battle over Tiger's half sisters, with ex-husband, Bob Geldof. Sir Bob's main cause for concern was the lifestyle Paula was leading with her new partner, Tiger's father, Michael Hutchence. Thankfully, by the time Tiger saw the light of day, all that had been resolved.
William Shakespeare would have been proud of the dramatic irony at play in the first few days of Tiger's life. Sir Bob was one of the first to welcome her into the world, letting himself into his former home with his own key and visiting for about an hour. Still, more was to come when Paula spoke to the media:
"Watching Michael with our daughter is just fantastic," she says. "He's a natural father, as I knew he would be. Tigerlily is a very lucky girl."
On November 22, 1997, when Tiger celebrated her 16th month, her father was in an hotel room in Double Bay, Sydney either dabbling in autoasphixiation or committing suicide. What preceeded his unusual parenting behaviour was a heated conversation with Sir Bob, over Sir Bob's refusal to allow Paula to take his three girls on an extended Christmas holiday to Australia. Vodka, beer, champagne, cocaine and Prozac, as well as telephone conversations with other luminaries in the music world, were added to the mix that night.
In the following months, Paula appealed to the court to overturn the suicide verdict.
"I won't have my child grow up thinking that her father left her, not knowing the way he loved her.''
She held, until her last breath, that Michael was not suicidal, would not have abandoned her and Tiger, and was the victim of some S&M that went wrong. She felt that Tiger deserved to grow up knowing that her father did not kill himself deliberately, though I'm not sure that the alternative Paula presented was much better. The courts threw out Paula's appeal.
After Michael's death, Sir Bob and Paula's legal disputes continued. Eventually a joint custody agreement was reached, granting the lion's share of the children's time to Sir Bob. Paula was left with Tiger, her loss, and depression. Oh, and the threat of a custody battle with Tiger's paternal family.
Yet more legal wrangling... this time over her father's estate. In April 2001, Tiger was declared the sole heir. Valued in 1997 at both £25 million and US$25 million, both are sums Tiger won't be able to conceive of for a few more years yet.
As if Tiger had not endured enough for most toddlers, at the ripe-old-age of four, she found her mother dead, on Sunday, September 17, 2000. Paula Yates had more than likely choked to death on vomit, after a little too much Vodka washing down a few too many pills. (Other sources say Yates died of a heroin overdose.) Tiger was alone at home (now Notting Hill) with Yates at the time.
It's a good thing Tiger's father left her so well provided for, for her mother was hardly a model of how to run home finances. Having earned a small fortune for her television career, Yates' assets at the time of her death amounted to £800,000. Sadly her debts were almost as high. A few days after a court awarded Hutchence's estate in its entirity to Tiger, another court honoured Yates will by awarding £13,956 to her sole beneficiary, Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily Hutchence. Yates had omitted her other daughters from her will under the belief that they would be adequately taken care of by their father, Sir Bob Geldof. Yates' will also provided that Hutchence' parents should not have access to Tiger without the approval of her guardians.
Immediately after her mother's death, Tiger was taken in by Sir Bob. In December 2000, following a High Court battle with Tiger's paternal aunt, Geldof was awarded full custody. She is being raised alongside her half sisters, in the most stable environment she has known.
"We are delighted. We feel she should be with her sisters. Bob is very pleased. He feels it is the best possible outcome. We are thrilled because it is the best thing for Tiger. This little girl has never been happier. She has got her sisters and has wonderful extended family connections." -- Kelland Hutchence, Michael's father, on hearing the court's decision.