Eastenders favourite Patsy Palmer has finally had the white wedding she always dreamed off, 12 years after originally tying the knot.
The Eastenders star and Richard Merkell, who married in 2000, decided to renew their commitment to each other in the Caribbean after originally marrying in a hurry when their 11-year-old son Fenton was born prematurely.
“When I married Richard, everything was such a rush,” Patsy tells !
“I”d just given birth to Fenton prematurely at 32 weeks and he had to stay in hospital. We went to register Fenton”s birth at Chelsea Register Office and out of all the gloom and worry we wanted to do something really lovely and get married.
“I was still big from my pregnancy so I did”t wear a proper wedding dress, just a baggy cotton frock, and we never even bothered with wedding photos”.
Last week she and and taxi driver Richard decided to get remarried in a more traditional way to show their children how much the commitment means to them, with just one bit of drama when they got their weddings rings mixed up.
And she says the day was a dream come true. “Today has been every bit a celebration of our lives and love for each other,” she said.
“We wanted a simple but spiritual ceremony with lots of fun and laughter and to take away some really lovely happy memories, as well as make the children feel secure. It was exactly that and more. I feel really blessed.
“I think every married couple should do it every ten years. It is so easy to get divorced now but much harder to stay married.
“In the interview, the actress also credits Richard with helping keep her on the straight and narrow after a history of experimenting with drink and drugs.
“Often I”d party all night and was either high or hungover and I was all over the place,” she explains.
“I was a different person then and it had a huge effect on both of us. But I wanted to change because I was a mum and Richard gave me the strength and stability to do it.”
See the full exclusive article in ! Magazine, out now.