The world’s biggest philanthropist couple announced their divorce after 27 years of marriage this week. It came as the pair “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple”. In a tweet, they said: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.”
The billionaire couple have three children and jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, having built up a combined $124bn (£89bn) fortune.
Bill, the co-founder of Microsoft, met Melinda on the job.
She was working as an intern for IBM in the Eighties, before applying for a job at a new company called Microsoft.
Rising through the ranks, the pair first met when they sat next to each other at an Expo trade-fair dinner in New York.
Months went by without any developments, however.
Then, after meeting in the Microsoft car park, Bill made a bizarre move.
Given his packed diary, he asked Melinda out two weeks in advance, so the event wouldn’t clash with his daily flood of meetings.
According to The Independent, Melinda all but said no as she initially rejected the idea.
It was here that they reportedly hired up all the local helicopters to stop unwanted guests flying over.
After their engagement in 1993, during Melinda’s wedding shower, her mother Mary, suffering from breast cancer, read her an admonitory letter whose gist was, “from those to whom much is given, much is expected”.
While Mary died months later, her advice set the scene for the William H Gates Foundation.
Initially run by Bill’s father, its goal was to put laptops in every classroom.
Later, the couple focused their attention on reforming what they believed to be one of the most pressing issues facing the US and the world: the education system.
Now, Bill is the fourth wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes.
He and Melinda were among the five richest couples in the world.
Meanwhile, the rest of their statement posted on social media read: “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.
“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.
“We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”