With her muddy wellies, 15th-century house, aristocratic neighbours, plummy voice and Aga, the artist formerly known as Ginger Spice has come a long way.
A recent, admiring profile of her featured Geri posing for pictures wearing a ballgown while sitting on a horse. It hailed her: ‘The Real Posh Spice.’
At least one of the Spice Girls finds the whole ‘Posher than Posh’ act so irritating she was tempted into a series of unwise swipes.
As we discovered recently, Mel B, 43, can’t bear her old friend’s new, wholesome, incarnation as the all-baking trophy wife.
Finding global fame aged 24, Geri made her mark with platform trainers, war paint, an ample cleavage and garishly streaked hair
After dropping her bombshell that they had a lesbian encounter, Mel B said: ‘She’s going to hate me for this because she’s all posh in her country house with her husband.’
Mel has apparently now apologised to Geri for the dig — after an initial refusal — and Geri is trying to move on from the upset.
They are due to start rehearsals for their reunion tour soon.
But how has Ginger Spice — daft, lippy, honkingly loud and full of attitude — reinvented herself as the Lady of the Manor?
SPICE GIRL TO A WANNABE SLOANE
Finding global fame aged 24, she made her mark with platform trainers, war paint, an ample cleavage and garishly streaked hair.
However, it was a confusing world which was not quite the fantasy she anticipated. She bailed out two years later, in the grip of an eating disorder and unable to cope with the love-hate dynamics of the Spice Girls.
With her muddy wellies, 15th-century house, aristocratic neighbours, plummy voice and Aga, Geri has come a long way since her days in the Spice Girls
But her taste for the high life had been whetted.
Those close to her say her brushes with Prince Charles in the Spice Girls concert days sparked her longing to belong to the upper crust.
A friend said: ‘She was bowled over when the Spice Girls started meeting Prince Charles. Mel B was rude to him at the premiere of the film Spiceworld but Geri really had her head turned and became very interested in high society.’
Shock: Piers Morgan aired a clip of the bombshell moment Mel B claimed to have had a relationship with bandmate Geri
Big moment: Piers is seen asking Mel: ‘You were coming here to be brutally honest – did or didn’t you sleep with Geri Halliwell? Did you sleep with her?’
GREW UP WITH AN OUTSIDE LOO
After her parents divorced, when she was ten, her Spanish mother Ana had to work hard to keep afloat. There was an outside loo, and no money for holidays. She read books instead, revealing: ‘Other children went somewhere else — I just went to Narnia.’
THE SEARCH FOR MR MONEYBAGS
A friend said: ‘Her mother always told her to marry a rich man and that is what she has done.’ It wasn’t all plain sailing though. As Geri said: ‘I think we all know that relationships haven’t been my strong point.’ A short romance with screenwriter Sacha Gervasi resulted in the arrival of daughter Bluebell, born when Geri was 33.
She then formed a relationship with banker Henry Beckwith and hoped he might be husband material. ‘He was just her cup of tea,’ said a friend. ‘Posh, connected and wealthy. She hung on.’
Old Harrovian Beckwith, whose father is a property magnate, was reported to have upset Geri during their two-year romance, with his roving eye.
Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner during their wedding at St Marys Woburn Parish Church on May 15, 2015 in Woburn
She told an interviewer: ‘If you want to find the one, you’ve got to be yourself, totally. I’ve definitely been guilty of breathing in, trying to be something the other person wants. What you want is to find the person you can be your ultimate nerd with.’
WIFE IN THE FAST LANE
Geri’s extraordinary social transformation is largely down to the circles her husband, Christian Horner, the boss of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, moves in. They first met ten years ago, when he was living with his long-term girlfriend Beverley Allen. But it was only in 2014 that their connection turned into a romance.
By then Christian and Beverley, who had a six-month-old baby daughter, had split up after 14 years together.
Geri pictured cooking at her home in a grade 2 listed house just a few miles from Banbury, Oxfordshire
In March of that year, Geri and Christian were first pictured together. Not long afterwards, Geri dyed her ginger hair brown — which was said to be a stab at appearing more respectable for the sake of his parents.
They got engaged and were married in a traditional church service at St Mary’s in Woburn, Bedfordshire, in May 2015. The bride, at the rather senior age of 42, was a vision in a white Phillippa Lepley wedding dress. Ginger Spice reborn as a Chelsea Bride.
However, the groom’s parents were so outraged by their son’s behaviour towards Beverley and their infant daughter Olivia that they declined to attend.
A NANNY, PA AND HOUSKEEPER, TOO
Christian kept the grade 2 listed house just a few miles from Banbury, Oxfordshire — the one Geri is now mistress of — in the split. The new blended family spend the week at Geri’s house in North London, and weekends in Oxfordshire. Her country home features a wood panelled study and a rather grand orangery, where Geri does yoga.
She and her husband have dinner parties where she likes to invite authors and artists. She has a permanent retinue of staff, including a nanny, at least one PA, and a housekeeper.
The family spend the week at Geri’s house in North London, and their weekends in Oxfordshire
People who have visited her house, say that she has an awful lot of Emma Bridgewater crockery
Those who have visited her house, say she has an awful lot of Emma Bridgewater crockery.
She favours polo necks and plummy vowels and takes care to let interviewers know of any improving or difficult books she has read. It’s quite a rarefied lifestyle and she seems to consider herself a quasi-royal.
In a recent interview she even mused: ‘When I’m in doubt, I often think: ‘What would the Queen do?’ ‘
SHE’S LOST THAT OLD SENSE OF FUN
She and daughter Bluebell, 12, are extremely close. Geri raised her as a single mum, with help from friends including the late singer George Michael.
She now sends her daughter to private school. A friend said: ‘She used to think that it was posh to be in Hello! magazine so the instant that Bluebell was born, away she went for a photoshoot with them. Now she knows that it is not posh any more.
Her son Monty, born when she was 44, is regarded as a great blessing and she likes to serenade him on the guitar while dressed in flowing florals
‘She has changed completely. It’s rather like Madonna’s reinvention when she suddenly became an English Lady for Guy Ritchie. The sad thing is that she seems to have ditched that fun and confidence which she used to have.
‘In many ways Bluebell is the girl she wanted to be, privately educated, speaks more than one language, beautifully well spoken, good manners. Geri has seen to all of that. And she has always been a consummate networker.’
SERENADING HER TODDLER SON
Son Monty, born when she was 44, is regarded as a great blessing. She says he was conceived naturally and she is aware of how lucky she is to have this second shot at motherhood. The two of them potter about in her country acres and she takes him out on her tractor. She also likes to serenade him on the guitar while dressed in flowing florals.
She plays ping pong with aristocratic neighbours who include Lady Joanna Wellesley, the ex-wife of the son of the eighth Duke of Wellington
She reportedly thinks of herself as the ‘intellectual’ of the band and is not short on self belief
PING PONG WITH ARISTOCRATS
She plays ping pong with aristocratic neighbours who include Lady Joanna Wellesley, the ex-wife of the son of the eighth Duke of Wellington.
Others in her social circle include writer Richard Curtis.
Oxfordshire neighbours don’t seem too concerned about Geri’s ordinary roots.
Passion for classic cars
Geri now drives classic cars, including a World War II Jeep.
One neighbour said: ‘Christian bought her a classic car. It was a red MG.’
She can also often be spotted driving around the Oxfordshire lanes in her green Land Rover, dressed head to toe in tweed.
One neighbour said: ‘Geri is lovely. She is often walking around the village with her family. She is very chatty, and her daughter and son are often walking around with her. She is very family orientated.’
She added: ‘I would say she is a bit of a country girl these days. She does a lot of horse riding around the village, and they have a few classic cars so they are often out and around driving in the country.
‘Otherwise, they spend a lot of time together as a family. Her husband has lived in the village a long time, but they have not been seen so much around here since they have been together — but they are both incredibly busy. She really is lovely and very friendly.’
PLUMMY ACCENT IRRITATES PALS
One old London friend told me with a sigh: ‘She is batty, and a bit deluded.’ She added: ‘Have you heard her speak recently? It is crazy.’
Her old friends included the girls from the Nineties band All Saints and Meg Mathews, formerly married to Noel Gallagher of Oasis. They are rather astonished by the ‘Lady Geri, Duchess of Banbury’ phenomenon.
One neighbour said about her: ‘I would say she is a bit of a country girl these days. She does a lot of horse riding around the village’
A friend said: ‘Her airs and graces have got on people’s nerves. The thing is that all the girls know that she is a working class grafter from Watford and she keeps on wafting about as if she is an aristocrat.
‘Of course, being Geri, I think she actually has come to believe that it is true.’
SHE CALLS OTHER PEOPLE ‘PLEBS’
There have been various reinventions since her Spice Girls days — Geri has tried her hand as a solo artist, children’s author, and BBC presenter.
At present she is less than two months away from the Spice Girls reunion tour.
She had hoped that these dates would reassert her status as an ‘icon’ who is fondly remembered.
Certainly her attempts to have solo success, with a single released in George Michael’s memory, were nothing short of an embarrassing flop.
Older friends admit they are rather astonished by the ‘Lady Geri, Duchess of Banbury’ phenomenon
After the tour what will she do?
The signs are that she will go on writing books, writing screenplays and even working on a musical, but that this will mark a decisive end to her days as a pop star.
She thinks of herself as the ‘intellectual’ of the band and is not short on self belief.
A source said: ‘Geri is very determined, now that she has risen, to never go back. I have heard her talk about people being ‘plebs’ which is quite amazing, but tells you how she thinks of herself.
‘This house of hers is actually not in the smart part of the Cotswolds, unlike Victoria Beckham’s, and some people think that she’s not actually posh enough to pull off the new image, but she will die trying.’
The New Queen of Tarts
Geri, who has taken her husband’s surname, is throwing everything into making the marriage work.
She said: ‘I do cook for him, I do like to see that he’s happy.’
She likes to boast of her cooking skills on Instagram, in one shot she poses in a Cath Kidston apron while serving home-made plum crumble. She was crowned Star Baker in the 2016 Sport Relief Bake Off, her tarts, ginger biscuits and chocolate cake impressing the judges.
Viewers were surprised to find the former Spice Girl such a dab hand in the kitchen. They were also startled by her plummy vowels.
‘Why is Geri doing a fake posh voice?’ asked one.
She says she is trying to navigate a new identity as an ‘authentic’ woman who is a wife, and a mother, and someone who works.