Melanie “Mel C” Chisholm is recalling the Spice Girls’ infamous brush with royalty.
The singer, known to fans as the iconic Sporty Spice, met King Charles III (who assumed the title of king following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8) with his bandmates Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, Melanie “Mel B” Brown. and Victoria Beckham at a UK gala to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Prince’s Trust in 1997, when he was still known as the Prince of Wales.
In true Spice Girls fashion, they ignored all royal protocol, with Halliwell Horner and Brown planting heavily lipsticked kisses on King Charles’s cheeks. Halliwell Horner also gave him a pat on the butt.
“At the time, I was one of the shyest members of the band, so I was cringing inside as the girls kissed Prince Charles,” Chisholm tells PEOPLE via Zoom call from London. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe they’re doing it.’ But now I’m so proud that the girls did that because I think that’s part of the reason the world fell in love with Spice. Girls. We were doing what everyone wished they could do, and never maliciously. He was always with a smile.”
“Now that Charles is our King, it makes him even more mischievous,” he adds with a laugh. “Those naughty Spice Girls!”
The memory is just one of many that Chisholm shares from his time in the band in his upcoming new memoir. LA DEPORTIVA: My life as a Spice Girlwhose release is scheduled for September 27.
In addition to the funny moments, Chisholm also goes into detail in the book about his most difficult chapters, including his private struggles with anorexia and depression at the height of the band’s popularity.
“I really want people to see behind closed doors what happened with the Spice Girls during those crazy years and beyond,” she says. “The book is quite balanced in light and shadow, which is life.”
Raised in the small English industrial town of Widnes by her mother Joan, a singer, and her father Alan, a travel agent, Chisholm grew up singing and always knew she would be an artist. But when the Spice Girls rose to fame with their hit single “Wannabe” in 1996, when she was just 22 years old, she wasn’t prepared for life under the microscope.
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To deal with the constant criticism about her appearance these days, she began to cut back on food and exercise excessively. But it wasn’t just other people’s opinions of her that fueled her eating disorder, it was also her “internal dialogue” of hers, she says.
“We are so cruel to ourselves,” she says. “We speak to ourselves in a way that we would never speak to another human being, let alone someone we love. When I look back, I am very proud of everything we achieved, but it is tinged with sadness because I only think If I hadn’t been feeling those things, I might have enjoyed it a lot more.”
While Chisholm says it was “amazing” to photograph the world of spices film in 1998, he writes in his memoir that he was fighting at the time and at his thinnest.
“It’s very difficult for me to see how I look in that movie,” says Chisholm, who took 16 years to see the movie again after it was released. “I think that’s why I avoided it for so long. I was very skinny at the time and for a long time, that was hard to watch.”
In 1999, a year before the Spice Girls went on hiatus, Chisholm embarked on a solo career with the release of her debut album. North Star. Meanwhile, his eating disorder progressed from anorexia to binge eating.
In the early 2000s, things got so bad that he had trouble getting out of bed during a trip to Los Angeles with his family.
“The most difficult years were 2000 and 2001,” he says. “That’s when I was diagnosed with depression and started to really address my eating disorders. I hadn’t had a healthy lifestyle or attitude for a few years, and that got me into a really unhealthy place.”
After being diagnosed with depression, Chisholm began managing her mental health with psychotherapy and medication. Over time, her problems with disordered eating also began to subside.
She also credits her 13-year-old daughter Scarlet (with ex-husband Thomas Starr) for keeping her on track.
“For me, it was like the responsibility of having a daughter allowed me to take more responsibility for myself,” she says. “She’s very much my teacher, but then I realized she was building this amazing person in front of me. That responsibility kicked me in the butt to say, ‘Wait a minute. You need to treat yourself better.'”
Although revising those difficult points was difficult for Chisholm, he thought it was “important” for the book.
“I knew I had to do it, and I knew I had to do it in a very honest way because I wanted it to be beneficial to other people,” he says. “I’m not just telling my story. I want it to be put to good use.”
Another lesson Chisholm hopes people learn from reading his book? Trust your instinct.
In her memoir, Chisholm reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a masseur at a hotel spa in Istanbul, Turkey, where she and her fellow Spice Girls were staying before their first performance as a band in 1997. When she called the front desk desk to explain what happened next, they said the masseuse had already left.
“I thought, ‘Is it just me? Am I wrong?’ because I felt like I had no experience in that environment,” she says. “I didn’t know what the rules were, what the etiquette was, and I felt uncomfortable. Since it was the night before Spice Girl’s first big show in Istanbul, I had to go on with other things. What I regret the most is that the person who made me That didn’t pay off.”
“I think it’s very, very important to know that if something doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right,” she adds. “It’s unbelievable how silenced women have been for so long. Men need to be held accountable.”
After all she’s endured, Chisholm says she’s “very proud” to still be standing.
“Achieving the things that I did while dealing with the things that I did, I feel like it has made me a warrior in this life,” she says. “You never know what life will bring next. But I know I have this inner strength.”
As she looks to the future, she hopes to be back on stage soon with the Spice Girls, who last toured in 2019.
“We have to make this happen,” she says. “We talk constantly, and I’m trying to figure out when it works best for everyone with kids, other races and different things. We just have to make the time frame work for everyone.”
With her 50th birthday also in 2024, Chisholm, who has split from boyfriend Joe Marshall during the COVID-19 pandemic and says dating is on the “back burner” for now, feels this is the start of a next and beautiful chapter. .
“I feel like I’ve closed a chapter in my life and I’m really excited for the next one to come, which includes the big 5-0,” she says. “I think as you get older, you realize more and more how precious life is, so you have to fill it with the things that bring you joy. So for me, that’s being a mom, being an artist, and going out and connecting. with people. Who knows what the future holds?