After enjoying the attentions of the two most eligible men in the world, Saturdays singer Mollie King tells us what’s really going on…
Photography by Pete Pedonomou
Until a few weeks ago, Mollie King was known to most people as the blonde one from The Saturdays. Y’know, the one who was going out with Mr Hotness David Gandy. But that was before.
Before those rumours started linking her to Prince Harry. Polo matches, secret dates and karaoke nights in nightclub Bunga Bunga with HRH himself – Mollie King just got very interesting indeed.
However, in the run-up to our interview there’s a right royal load of earache from her team over the Harry issue. Mollie, we are warned, really doesn’t want to talk about him.
Sure enough, when the H-word is mentioned, she visibly squirms in her seat. A cynic, of course, might ask: if there’s nothing going on, then why so jumpy?
“We’re friends,” she says, speaking about the relationship for the first time and clearly choosing her words very carefully. “The attention has been a bit overwhelming. But yes, uh, we’re friends and that’s all there is to it really.”
What does a pop star have in common with a prince? “We have a good time and we make each other laugh.”
She catches herself and giggles.
“Well, he makes me laugh anyway. Listen to me, bigging myself up: ‘I make him laugh!’ We have fun together, just like you do with all your friends.”
Look. We’ve been fooled before when Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan used the Just Good Friends line back in 1989, only for it to emerge years later that they were at it like rabbits.
So, Mollie. Are you single?
“Yes, I am. Yes.”
And ready to mingle?
“Hahaha! I love that! Yes, I’m very much single and if a lovely boy wants to come along then he can be my guest. I don’t want any horrible ones!
“I love having a boyfriend and being able to share all the exciting things that happen in my job. But I’m not going to get into a relationship for the sake of it. I’ve got to be mad about someone to want to be their girlfriend. I’m a romantic. So bring on a nice boy!”
Mollie, 24, is certainly in possession of some of the credentials required to be a respectable royal girlfriend. She’s pretty, poised, graceful, and has a beautiful cut-glass English accent which must help her fit in with Hazza’s hoorah crowd – rich-kid nightclub owner and mutual friend Guy Pelly reportedly played matchmaker for the prince and the pop princess.
“I really don’t think of myself as posh!” she squeals. “But the girls always laugh at the way I talk.”
Does she have to pinch herself sometimes at the well-connected circles she now moves in?
“It’s weird doing what I do because you meet people that you’d never ever normally cross paths with. I try and be cool but it’s hard not to get a bit star-struck because it’s so exciting. But I have five best friends from before all this and I’ve known them for years.”
Mollie has been single (officially, at least) since February following her split with model David Gandy, 32, after nine months together. The break-up, she says candidly, left her devastated.
“When any relationship comes to an end – especially one where you’ve been very much in love, as I was – it’s hard.
At the time I felt like no one could possibly have ever felt as hurt as I did.
“Now, a few months down the line, I know that’s not the case and of course other people go through just as much hurt. Luckily, I have an amazing family around me, and my mum told me it was normal to feel like that. She said I only needed to listen to Adele’s 21 to realise that! Adele – there’s one person who’s definitely felt as upset as I was.
“When I’m in a relationship I give myself to that person completely, so when it comes to an end it’s always quite difficult.”
Mollie puts the reasons behind the split down to the old chestnut of conflicting work schedules. In a magazine interview this month, David blamed his own obsession with perfection, admitting his “weirdness” made him a difficult partner and saying he would always prioritise his career over a relationship.
“It’s tough when you’re both so busy,” says Mollie. “It’s just difficult. But I’ve nothing but amazing things to say about David. We were so happy together.
“I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve only been out with three boys in my life – but all three have been incredible and I’m still in touch with all of them.
“I’m back on my feet now. I’m throwing myself into work, and I’m sure the right person will come along. I hope he comes to me because I’m not much of a chaser! I’ll let them do the work.
“In a few years time I’d love to be settled down and have children. I dream of having the big white house like in Father Of The Bride, a lovely husband and some beautiful children. I want to be successful but the most important thing is that I’ve got a happy family.”
By the time The Saturdays were formed, via a series of auditions by their record label, and launching their debut album in October 2008, Mollie had been trying to break into the music industry for several years. She’d twice been rejected on The X Factor, once as a soloist in 2005 and two years later with girl band Fallen Angelz, who got as far as boot camp. Now, she’s one fifth of a band with 10 Top-10 singles, and who are releasing their first single of 2012, 30 Days, tomorrow.
“To keep bouncing back really does take guts,” she says. “But if it’s something that you really want you should never, ever give up.
“When I got turned away from The X Factor for the second time there was a moment where I thought maybe I wasn’t good enough. But then I told myself: ‘No, Molls. Just keep going’. This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was six so there was no stopping me”.
Mollie admits her school teachers would have preferred her to quit singing. “At school they were a bit: ‘Come on, now, Mollie’,” she says referring to her childhood ambition. “I had a place at Loughborough University where I was going to study media and I’d been offered a sports scholarship as well. They told me I should take it, but I just couldn’t. So I kept deferring my entry until I eventually called the uni up and said: ‘OK, I’m definitely not coming now!’”
South-London-born Mollie’s dyslexia had at times made life at the private Surbiton High School in Surrey a struggle. But she managed to leave her sixth-form college with three A-grade A levels and now supports charity Dyslexia Action.
“It meant I was very slow at reading. In class I’d hate it when it was my turn to read out loud. Once I found out I was dyslexic it was a relief because I understood why I found reading so much harder than everyone else did.
“Now I like to show other people with dyslexia that they can accomplish things. When you’re in a girl band there’s a preconception that you’re going to be thick. I worked really hard at school and it paid off, so it’s annoying. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m capable of coming out with the most blonde comments ever.
“But at the same time, when people get to know me, they realise I’m not a complete thicko.”
At one point she’d looked set for a career as a professional skier (another big tick in the box for piste-loving Prince Harry), competing for Great Britain until she was 17.
“My parents were worried when I told them I wanted to stop the skiing for singing because it’s such a difficult industry to get into. I was so focused that this was what I wanted to do. I literally did not want to do anything else.”
There’s no history of showbiz in the King family – Dad Stephen is a retired accountant, Mum Susan a doctor’s secretary. Mollie’s older sisters Ellen and Laura work as a banker and lawyer.
“So when I said I wanted to be a singer, it was a bit: ‘Where has this come from?’ Every Christmas my sisters and I would put on a pantomime and my poor parents and grandparents would have to sit through it,” she says. “They were awful – I’ve seen the video footage.
“And I had a Talkboy recording device and I’d record myself for hours pretending I was a DJ. I called the station King Radio. I was such a geek!”
With two engagements and a baby, it’s been a year of change for The Saturdays, who are preparing to launch in America with a reality TV show on E!.
Eldest member Una Healy, 30, gave birth to baby Aoife in March and is planning a summer wedding to rugby player Ben Foden, 26. While Rochelle Wiseman, 23, announced her engagement to JLS’ Marvin Humes, 27, on New Year’s Eve and they are in the throes of arranging their June nuptials. The girls are growing up, but Mollie insists it doesn’t mean the end of the band.
“The band is my life and the thought of it coming to an end is devastating. I hope the fans keep buying the singles and coming to the shows. I want to go on for years and years to come. We’ve got loads more albums in us.
“We’re so close as a five-piece. I always say to the girls we’ve all seen each other go through break-ups and meeting new people.”
Little Aoife is now the unofficial sixth member – Una plans to bring her everywhere. “I knew Una was going to be an amazing mother,” says Mollie. “But at the same time she’s very career driven and I knew she wouldn’t want to take too much time out. She’s good at taking a lot on. Una’s not short of hands to help out. We’re fighting over the babysitting!”
Bandmate Frankie Sandford, 23, has also been the subject of press attention after taking the brave step of admitting she’d been battling with depression which had crippled her towards the end of last year. The support of the group helped her through this bleak time.
“The most important thing for us was that she started to feel better,” says Mollie. “It’s good that she spoke out. So many people suffer with depression but it’s still a taboo subject. If someone like Frankie can talk openly about it, hopefully it’ll help other sufferers. She’s doing really well at the moment.”
Vanessa White, 22, is without doubt the least known of the five girls. She doesn’t attract nearly as much attention as the others and, says Mollie, deliberately steers clear of paparazzi.
“She tends to go out in east London where she doesn’t get noticed as much. Vanessa’s the kind of person who, at first, seems shy. But when you get to know her you realise she’s got the biggest personality and the loudest cackle you’ve ever heard.”
For someone not used to flying solo at a photo shoot, Mollie looks very comfortable on her own in front of the camera. She confides afterwards, though, that she was really rather nervous.
“I’m quite a self-conscious person and so I get quite worried that it’s all going to look OK. I want to do a good job – I don’t want to let Fabulous down, so I put quite a bit of pressure on myself I think. I’m still kind of feeling my way.”
Confidence issues aren’t helped by internet trolls – Mollie avoids reading negative comments and tweets, but admits that sometimes curiosity gets the better of her.
“I try not to read them but I’d be lying if I said I completely turn a blind eye. There are times when it can get me down. Nasty comments are so instant. You can be pictured in the morning, it’s up on the internet, and immediately people are commenting and dissing.
“We’re very accessible with things like Twitter, so it’s difficult to switch off. But, having said that, we have the most loyal fanbase. They send us gorgeous letters and I have a drawer at home that I keep everything in. This won’t last forever and it’s something I’ll show my kids one day. I never want to forget this.”
On the whole, though, the perks outweigh any negativity. And Mollie understands that unwelcome attention sometimes comes at the expense of the music, when people are more interested in the girls’ personal lives
than their latest album.
“You have to accept that,” she says. “But my love is for performing. I’ll never see myself as a celebrity.
“It’s OK though,” she adds with a shrug. “For people like Rihanna or Britney it must be mayhem. I can’t imagine how they feel.”
Keep hanging out with princes, Mollie, and you might get an idea…
● The Saturdays’ single 30 Days is out now.
More from Mollie
What’s your most treasured possession?
My dog, Alfie.
Who are your dream dinner- party guests?
Britney Spears, Alan Carr, Barack Obama and The Saturdays!
What was your last meal?
American pancakes for breakfast.
What does love feel like?
The most incredible feeling. Butterflies.
Who would you say sorry to?
My management, for being late.
Sum yourself up in three words.
Cheerful, determined, loyal.
What’s your biggest regret?
I try not to hang on to regrets!