Inside the breakdown of the fairytale Wiggles marriage
THE fairytale couple of children's entertainment - the Yellow and Purple Wiggles - have split, with health concerns and the pressures of touring blamed for their shock marriage breakdown.
Emma Watkins and Lachy Gillespie surprised even their closest friends, announcing yesterday they were going their separate ways just two years after a picture-perfect wedding in Bowral.
"I caught up with them together last week and had no idea," one friend said.
"They were very happy and affectionate so it came as a complete shock. There's no doubt they still love each other very much and they're in a good place, they just feel they'll be better as best friends."
The couple were filming Watkins' spin-off TV series, Emma, in Sydney yesterday when they made their announcement to The Saturday Telegraph.
But in good news for the Aussie supergroup's legion of pint-sized fans, they've promised to continue to perform together, including playing three sold-out Emma & Lachy shows at the St Marys Rugby League Club on August 26.
Watkins, 28, recently revealed her personal health battle with chronic endometriosis and had to pull out of a number of shows to undergo treatment in hospital.
A friend said the pressure of constant touring and personal health concerns took its toll on the pair, who decided they "work best as friends".
The couple shared the same photograph of each other to their personal social media accounts with a message to fans.
"We have chosen a different path to travel in our personal lives, but please know that we are stronger than ever and we can't wait to see you at a show soon," they said.
"We have, and continue to share, the most beautiful life together, but we wanted to let you know that privately for the last six months we have been navigating through a trial separation, and we have made the decision to separate as a couple.
"Throughout that period, we have performed hundreds of shows together and that is always a continued source of joy for us both."
They continued: "We have embraced this as a very positive change in our relationship. Our incredible friendship has been strengthened throughout this time and what we have discovered is that, more than ever, first and foremost, we love and adore performing as Emma and Lachy in The Wiggles and having the privilege of celebrating this happiness with extraordinary families around the world."
The Wiggles will next perform together as a group in Darwin on September 1 before touring Queensland and heading to Canada.
Two years later, they joined the group as fresh-faced performers, stepping into the frontline by replacing long-time original cast members Jeff Fatt and Greg Page.
Three years later, they announced they were a couple and it came as no surprise to delighted fans when, in May 2015, it was revealed Gillespie had popped the question.
"I asked Emma on some dinner dates and we really started enjoying the little bits of time off we had together," Gillespie said of the couple's courtship. "We've both always been very conscious of putting our work first though.
"Nothing was more important to Emma and I than being in the new line-up of The Wiggles, focusing on the music and entertaining the children, so our relationship developed very slowly."
The couple married in April 2016 at Hopewood House in Bowral in front of around 200 friends and family, including fellow Wiggles Anthony and Simon.
At the time, Watkins described it as "the best day of my life" and both spoke of their desire to have a family.
Yesterday's news rocked fans. "My belief in love and marriage is suddenly destroyed," wrote one of Gillespie's followers. Another added: "This breaks my heart … my daughter and I watch and sing the Wiggles every day."
But others sent messages of support. "Wow, what a thoughtful, honest, and caring post at what must be a very difficult time. Best of luck to you both."