One of Hollywood's most high-profile marriages has come to an end as Gwyneth Paltrow announced her separation from husband Chris Martin after ten years together, in a statement on her Goop website.
In a post titled "Conscious Uncoupling" last night, the 41-year-old actress said:
It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate.
We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.
Gwyneth & Chris
Gwyneth and Chris in a photo issued by Goop
Paltrow met Coldplay singer Martin backstage at a gig in 2002. They married in a ceremony in Southern California a year later and have two children together - Apple, 9, and seven-year-old Moses.
The couple are notoriously private and were rarely pictured together during their 11-year relationship, even as Paltrow continued to attend a string of high-profile Hollywood events.
But the Oscar-winning actress has also been candid about her marriage not being easy in the past.
"Sometimes it’s hard being with someone for a long time. We go through periods that aren’t all rosy. I always say, life is long and you never know what’s going to happen," she told Elle magazine in 2011.
Two years later, she told Glamour: "It’s hard being married. You go through great times, you go through terrible times. We’re the same as any couple."
The couple pictured together on a rare occasion in 2004
In one of the few occasions he talked about his wife in public, 37-year-old Martin told CBS Sunday Morning that marrying Paltrow was like "winning the lottery", in an interview in 2011.
Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show the same year, the Coldplay frontman also quipped that he was secretly gay and that Paltrow had been his "beard," a term used where a woman pretends to be married to a man because he is hiding his sexuality.
Leading into the conversation, DeGeneres said: "You have had a great relationship and two precious kids. And we love Gwyneth. She’s been here many times."
Martin replied, "She’s been a great beard for me now, for 10 years." DeGeneres added, "Is that right? It’s not really a real relationship?" and Martin responded, "Yes, it’s hard to believe."
In an interview with Stylist last year, Paltrow told of her love of the family routine:
"I cook and I really believe in the family dinner, I think that’s a nice time to bring the family together," she said. "I’m a bit traditional in the way that I think that a woman draws her energy from the house. Food is a really nice way of expressing that energy and love, and doing something with care and putting time into it and nourishing your family.
"I try as best I can to really put all I can into what I’m doing. A lot of days I fail and there’s too much to do. I do think it’s really important to have time to yourself, whether that’s reading something interesting when the kids are in bed or even having a dog. Sometimes I just take the dog on the Heath (in Hampstead, where Gwyneth lives) for 20 minutes just to get some air, just to be alone – I think it’s important."
Gwyneth with her good friend Madonna in 2011
Within minutes of releasing the statement on their separation, Paltrow's Goop website crashed as thousands of people around the world clamoured to read the details and the reasons behind the split.
By refusing to give the statement to any media outlet and instead publishing it on her own site, Paltrow took ownership of the story - as well as growing her already flourishing Goop brand.
The couple split their time between their London and New York homes and it's not yet clear who will live where. Paltrow has just finished work on crime drama Mortdecai with Johnny Depp, while Martin is touring with Coldplay ahead of their hotly anticipated new album in May.
Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features