Prince and Mayte Garcia’s 1996 ‘Oprah’ Interview Is Especially Heartbreaking in Light of Her New Memoir

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Prince and Mayte Garcia at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
Prince and Mayte Garcia at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Mayte Garcia’s memoir, The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince, pulls back the curtain on their relationship, which was pretty heartbreaking.

Just 16 when they met, Mayte went on six years later, on Valentine’s Day in 1996, to marry Prince, who died last April from an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl. In October of that year, she gave birth to their only child, a son named Amiir, who died six days after birth from a rare genetic disorder known as Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2. In a excerpt from the book published in People magazine, Mayte recounted how — shortly after the baby died — her famous husband dragged her out of bed to be interviewed with him, at their Paisley Park home, by Oprah Winfrey.

mayte garcia, The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince
Garcia’s book: “The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince.” (Published by: Orion)

“’Oprah’s coming to Paisley. Today,’” Garcia, the woman who inspired “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” recalled Prince telling her shortly after Amiir’s death. Although she begged him to tell the talk show host that she was ill, he said, “’I need you to do this.’ … He had me on my feet, but I was sobbing. People came. A mask of heavy makeup was applied to my face.”

At the time, there were rumors about their baby in the tabloids, and Prince hadn’t confirmed anything, even after Amiir passed away. Garcia, an actress and dancer, wrote, “My husband took Oprah on a tour of Paisley Park, and her mission was clear. She’d come to find out if the child was dead or deformed, like people were saying.”

Watching the interview, which aired Nov. 21, 1996 (a month after their child died), is an unsettling experience. The singer, who was possibly in a state of shock, wouldn’t address the death of the child, instead he told Oprah upon her arrival that things “couldn’t be better.”

Watch Prince’s Oprah Winfrey Show interview, featuring Mayte, here:

Even more disturbing, he went on to give Oprah a tour of his “favorite room” in the Minnesota compound: a nursery and playroom.

Garcia writes in the book that she “didn’t know anything about” the room, which her husband had set up while she was in the hospital, because “he wanted to surprise me.” Needless to say, she questioned why he took Oprah to see it.

“Oprah saw it before I did,” she wrote in her book. “I have to wonder why he took her in there. They stood in the middle of this colorful paradise of toys. It had everything a perfect nursery needs, except for the only thing a perfect nursery needs.”

Garcia also wrote that during the interview, “I sat on the sofa, smiling a pretty ballerina smile. I’d been instructed by my husband, ‘Say nothing about Amiir.’”

However, in the interview with Oprah, Garcia did bring up her pregnancy. Asked about some of the romantic things Prince had done for her, she mentioned the songs he had written, including, “Let’s Have a Baby.” She offered, “Because of that, I got pregnant.”

Then Oprah asks them to set the record straight about the baby rumors, another moment that’s hard to watch now. Mayte stared at Prince (and away from the camera, as if to fight off tears) as he replied, “Our family exists. We’re just beginning it. We got many kids to have. A long way to go.”

(GIF: Oprah Winfrey Show)
(GIF: Oprah Winfrey Show)

As for the tabloid chatter that there was something wrong with their child, he said, “It’s all good. Never mind what you hear.”

Perhaps the saddest line, however, was Oprah saying that Prince had told her he wanted 10 children — and to have kids everywhere. Mayte agreed that was her goal too. “I never wanted it more.”

A previous excerpt the magazine ran on Wednesday described how Mayte and Prince were thrilled to learn about the pregnancy, and how things were going well until one day, she began bleeding. On two occasions, a doctor encouraged Mayte to have an amniocentesis to test for abnormalities, but Prince opposed the idea. (In fairness, the test does carry a risk of miscarriage.) Instead, Prince, who was very religious and became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001, said that they would just pray that the baby would be OK.

On Oct. 16, 1996, when the baby was born via C-section, the couple was elated: “I don’t know how to describe the look on my husband’s face. Pure joy.” But things changed when “They held the baby up to those harsh lights. The elation on my husband’s face turned to pure terror.”

Mayte attended the BET Awards last June. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Mayte attended the BET Awards last June. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

She described how Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2 is “a genetic disorder that causes skeletal and systematic abnormalities. The premature fusing of the bones in the skull, sometimes resulting in ‘cloverleaf skull,’ in which the eyes are outside the sockets. The fusion of bones in the hands and feet, causing a webbed or pawlike appearance … I learned all of this later.”

The baby died six days later. Mayte went on to get pregnant again, soon after the death of Amiir, but she suffered a miscarriage. That was too much for the couple to endure. On their third anniversary, they announced plans to annul their marriage, but officially divorced in 2000.

Garcia’s book comes out April 4 — just ahead of the first anniversary of Prince’s death.


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