We may love Mel B, Mel C, Victoria Beckham and Emma Bunton more than a cool gin and tonic on a warm summer’s day, but it could be said that Geri Halliwell – with her trademark hair, Union Jack dress and staunch feminist beliefs – was the ultimate Spice Girl.
Which is why, when Halliwell suddenly quit the band in the middle of their 1998 world tour, she positively shattered the hearts of Spice Girls fans everywhere – including Prince Charles, who wrote to her saying: “The group will not be the same without you.” Really.
Now, 19 years after her sudden departure, Halliwell (now Horner) has apologised to fans.
It all kicked off 31 May, when a fan account tweeted a compilation video of headlines about Horner’s disappearance from the tour.
“19 years ago today, it was announced that @GeriHalliwell had left the Spice Girls in the middle of their world tour,” the footage was captioned.
It wasn’t long before Horner spotted the tweet in her news feed (they did tag her in it, after all).
Rather than ignoring it, she decided to respond with a heartfelt message of her own, writing: “I’m sorry about that… everything works out in the end, that’s what my mum says! X.”
And her few words seem to have done the trick.
Yup, while her departure was seriously big news back in the Nineties, even the most fervent of fans appear willing to forgive all these years later.
You're forgiven darling 😘 ❤️ although for many of us, it was our first heartbreak and a very sad day 😢. Love ya! ✌🏻💙❤️— Spice Girls LatAm (@sgfcla) June 1, 2017
Everything happens 4 a reason. I think u and the girls have a tighter friendship now. And it gave us your amazing solo career.— Rafael Martínez (@RafaMartinezL) June 1, 2017
Geri honey, don't apologize you did what you had to do. Of course i was very heartbroken and felt empty😢 but you're still here 😘Love U G❤💋— Yolanda Liebregts (@Raptor_Maid) May 31, 2017
But, naturally, there were still a few people out there who refused to accept her apology.
The Spice Girls formed in 1994 and their first hit single, Wannabe, hit the airwaves in 1996, launching them to superstardom: it was the highest-ever single debut by a British band in the USA, beating the previous record set by The Beatles with I Want To Hold Your Hand – and they continued to dominate the charts from there (there’s a reason Nelson Mandela called them his “heroes”, you know).
In 1998, Horner announced her departure from the group, stating, “Sadly I would like to confirm that I have left the Spice Girls.
“This is because of differences between us. I’m sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best.”
Read more: How feminism went pop during the Nineties
Horner has since reconnected with her former bandmates – and is even planning a reunion with the erstwhile Baby and Scary Spice. But, while she has apologised for leaving the group in the first place, she has revealed that she had a very good reason for doing so: it was an act of self-care.
In a preview of a forthcoming interview with Oprah: Where Are They Now?, Horner explained that she grew obsessed with her appearance – and the glare of the spotlight made things even worse.
“I felt much more conscious of myself, my body weight,” she said. “We all used different tools to get by, coping mechanisms. For me [it] was controlling my body weight.”
She soon found herself trapped in a dangerous cycle of dieting, “comfort eating”, and “purging”.
“I started being bulimic and no one would notice it because your body weight stays pretty much the same,” she said. “It’s bloody dangerous.”
Thankfully, with the help of 12-step meetings, Horner was able to beat her eating disorder. She says she is now in a happier place than ever, and makes a conscious effort to promote self-kindness on her social media feeds.
In a recent video, which she shared on her Instagram, Horner said: “I just read this and I wanted to share it with you. You might find it useful.”
Reading an extract from a book, she continued: “Remember, the way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must respect yourself for who you are or nobody else will. We have to learn to be our own best friends, because sometimes we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.”
Looking back into the camera lens, the singer confesses: “I relate to that.”