Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce despite ‘a lot of work’ to keep their 27-year marriage together

Bill and Melinda Gates no longer see themselves spending the ‘next phase’ of their lives as a couple

 Bill and Melinda Gates pose in front of the Elysee Palace before receiving the award of Commander of the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Hollande on April 21, 2017 in Paris, France
(Image credit: Photo by Frederic Stevens/Getty Images)

Bill and Melinda Gates are set to divorce after 27 years of marriage, as they revealed that despite a “great deal of thought” and a lot of work, they no longer believe they can “grow together” as a couple.  

After nearly 30 years of marriage, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are divorcing. They took to Twitter to share a heartbreaking joint statement, in which both Bill and Melinda indicated that they have not taken this sad decision at all lightly as they enter the “next phase” of their lives. 

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage”, it read. “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 to work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.

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Bill and Melinda both went on to ask for privacy for themselves and their family as they begin to "navigate" their new lives following their split. The shocking news of the power couple's separation comes after they celebrated their momentous 27th wedding anniversary in January.

It will also no doubt raise questions over the direction their joint philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will take in the future, as the couple confirmed they remain committed to their "mission".

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How long have Bill Gates and Melinda Gates been married? 

Bill and Melinda Gates have long been considered one of the world’s power-couples and their divorce will no doubt be met with great sadness from many. Bill and Melinda have been married for 27 years, marking their wedding anniversary in January, after tying the knot in Hawaii in 1994. 

Speaking back in 2013 in a joint Q&A with The Seattle Times, Melinda and Bill reflected on how they had made a success of working together and being in a relationship. 

When asked whether they had discussed what their marriage might be and if they had an idea even then that they could be a partnership dedicated to creating change, Bill opened up about how early they had talked about this possibility.

“Well, we knew that there were a lot of things we were embarking on together: helping each other in our work and aspirations, having a family”, he disclosed.

“And we knew that there’d likely be substantial wealth from the success of Microsoft and that we’d get to figure out how to give back. We talked about that early.”

How did Bill Gates and Melinda Gates meet? 

Bill and Melinda Gates are understood to have first met in the 1980s, when Bill was Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft and she was an associate manager there. Melinda opened up about their meeting to The Seattle Times, reflecting on the dichotomy between the person the media saw and the man she knew. 

“I met Bill when we were both still young. I was 23 and he was 32, and he was still building the company”, she said. “I saw what that took. So while the media would talk about him in one way, that wasn’t the person I knew. … So we grew during those times together.”

The couple continued to work together in the future as they went on to set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

How many children do Bill Gates and Melinda Gates have?  

Bill and Melinda Gates have three children together, son Rory (21) and daughters Jennifer (25) and Phoebe (18). Since the sad news of Bill and Melinda's separation broke, Jennifer has taken to Instagram Stories, asking for space and described it as a "challenging stretch of time" for her family. 

‘I'm still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as my family members at this time and am grateful for the space to do so’, she wrote. 

Despite their parents' almost unimaginable level of wealth, it seems that Bill and Melinda are keen for their children not to rely on the family money. They will reportedly only be inheriting a relatively small portion of their father’s immense fortune, with reporting that they will each get $10 million.

What will happen to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? 

Bill and Melinda Gates are well known for the important work of their non-profit organization the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is committed to fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. In a statement on their website, it’s claimed that the foundation has spent $53.8 billion since 2000 and that’s helped their partners make a difference. 

In December 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation committed a total of $1.75 billion to to accelerate development and equitable distribution of Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

Bill and Melinda’s joint statement regarding their separation revealed that they will “continue to work together at the foundation” despite the ending of their marriage. 

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.