American business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates gave a statement on Monday announcing he and his wife Melinda “have made the decision to end” their marriage. The couple wed in 1994 and said they “no longer believe” they “can grow together as a couple in the next phase” of their lives.
The joint statement read: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.
“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.”
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Bill and Melinda Gates are co-founders of one of the world’s largest private charitable foundations and have pledged to continue their philanthropic work together despite the divorce.
In a separate statement, the Gates Foundation said the couple would remain as co-chairs and trustees of the organisation.
The statement read: “They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organisation’s overall direction.”
Bill founded Microsoft with school friend Paul Allen in 1975, and today is the world’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of a staggering $130.5 billion (£94.10 billion) according to Forbes.
The couple married in Hawaii in 1994 and went on to have three children, Jennifer, Phoebe and Rory Gates.
Their family home is an earth-sheltered mansion in Medina, Washington which overlooks Lake Washington.
The staggering mansion was last valued at $127 million (£91.47 million) in 2018 and has seven bedrooms.
Jennifer is 25-years-old, Rory 21 and their youngest Phoebe is 18.
A glance at the young Gates’ social media shows they have followed in their parent’s charitable footsteps.
Jennifer, a medical student, has regularly shared ways to help during the coronavirus pandemic to her 401,000 Instagram followers.
Phoebe, whose account is private, features a GoFundMe link in her bio to “help a young African leader attend college”.
And Melinda spoke to TIME in 2017 about taking Rory to East Africa, to “see some of the work our foundation is doing in Malawi.”