In a new memoir, Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia shares the story of their four-year marriage and the tragedy that tore them apart.
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The death of Prince and his ex-wife Mayte Garcia’s newborn son in 1996 not only devastated the couple, but ultimately doomed their marriage, his former spouse and one-time muse tells PEOPLE.
“I don’t think he ever got over it,” Garcia says in an exclusive interview and excerpt from her new memoir
that appears in this week’s PEOPLE. “I know I haven’t.”
Prince and Garcia were ecstatic when they learned they were going to be parents not long after their marriage on Valentine’s Day in 1996. They named the child Amiir — Arabic for “prince” — while he was still in Mayte’s womb, and they excitedly listened to his heartbeat in the months before his birth.
But the baby, born Oct. 16, 1996, with the rare genetic disorder Pfeiffer syndrome type 2, lived just six days.
The emotional impact, compounded by a miscarriage Garcia had two years later, sent the couple into an emotional tailspin that, she says, ultimately derailed their marriage.
Asked if she believes their relationship would have survived if they hadn’t lost their son, Garcia grows quiet, then softly replies, “Yes.”
Fighting back tears, she continues: “I meet a lot of people and I’ve learned that not many couples make it after the loss of a child. And then when you have another one, that was really hard on us.”
For much more on Mayte Garcia and the new Prince book, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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Prince retreated into the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses faith. “At the time it was giving him the answers that he liked,” Garcia recalls. “Looking back, I probably would have done things differently now. But back then I just wanted to forget the pain.”
The loss of his newborn son was so profound for Prince that years after their divorce Garcia learned that her ex-husband asked his assistant to burn everything in Paisley Park that reminded him of Garcia and their son, including Amiir’s ashes.
“In some sad, painful moment, he had it all burned, as if fire could cauterize this deep wound he couldn’t close,” Garcia writes in her memoir, due out April 4. “I wasn’t there to witness it, and I can’t bear to think about it now.”
Garcia was driving near her LA home when her cell phone rang on April 21, 2016, and she learned the terrible news that Prince had died from what was later determined to be an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.
After she got over the initial shock, her first reaction was bittersweet. “He’s with our son now,” she recalls thinking at the time. “I know they’re finally together.”
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