In September 1968 Paul McCartney phoned Linda from London, asking her to fly to the city to see him. She remained in London, and their relationship gradually became serious. They both went to New York after the White Album was complete in October 1968, allowing Paul to explore the city and get to know Linda’s daughter Heather, then five years old.

We’ve always been very close and that was the beginning of it all. It was a great change in my life. I’ve always had quite serious relationships, I didn’t have that many women. I had girlfriends and one-night stands a lot, the swinging sixties, sexual revolution. But this was the start of this new kind of relationship for me. I found it very liberating.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

They spent two weeks together in Linda’s apartment. The bearded McCartney enjoyed the relative anonymity of the city, where he was able to travel on the subway and explore the sights without being overly troubled by Beatles fans.

It was during this time that they decided to become a family together. The three of them took a flight to London, arriving on 31 October 1968; five days later they traveled to Scotland to stay at Paul’s farmhouse retreat.

There’s a point, I think, in most people’s lives when they start to think: ‘If I’m thinking of getting married, if I’m thinking of getting serious – now is the time.’ I was starting to have those sorts of thoughts, and I suppose I was thinking back over all the girls I’d known, and wondering who was the favourite to get serious with, and she was one who always came into my mind.
Paul McCartney

In December Paul and Linda went to stay with Beatles biographer Hunter Davies’ family in Praia da Luz, Portugal. It was there that Paul proposed to her. They married in London on 12 March 1969.

Paul and Linda McCartney, 1969She’d been married before, so she wasn’t keen to get married again. She was unsure but I persuaded her. I said, ‘It’ll be all right this time.’ She was a bit ‘once bitten twice shy’ – but we eventually got married in Marylebone Registry Office.

I really don’t remember whether or not I invited any of the band to the wedding. Why not? I’m a total bastard, I suppose – I don’t know, really. Maybe it was because the group was breaking up. We were all pissed off with each other. We certainly weren’t a gang any more. That was the thing. Once a group’s broken up like that, that’s it.

Paul McCartney

Despite the inevitable press attention – McCartney was the final Beatle to be married – the wedding was a relatively low-key affair.

I didn’t go to Paul and Linda’s wedding, but they had lunch or tea afterwards at the Ritz, and I think it was just Paul, Linda, Mal [Evans], Suzy [Aspinall] and me. I don’t remember anybody else being there.

At the time of their wedding Linda was four months pregnant. On 15 May they embarked on a month-long holiday in Corfu to escape the business wranglings at Apple, staying in the village of Benitses. There, Paul wrote the song Every Night, which later appeared on his first solo album.

Yoko’s taken a lot of shit, her and Linda; but The Beatles’ break-up wasn’t their fault. It was just that suddenly we were all thirty and married and changed. We couldn’t carry on that life any more.

Paul, Linda and Mary McCartney

As Allen Klein turned Apple upside down, sacking staff and turning off the money tap, the McCartneys withdrew from the business. Following their Corfu holiday they spent a great deal of time at their farm in Scotland. Mary McCartney was born on 28 August 1969, and was named after Paul’s late mother.

While not not instinctively musical, Linda sang on The Beatles’ song ‘Let It Be’. Following the group’s split, Paul taught her to play keyboards, and she became a core member of his next band Wings. Although they became one of the 1970s’ most successful groups, Linda was often criticised for her poor singing. Nonetheless, she performed onstage with the group, and shared an Oscar nomination with Paul for the co-written Live And Let Die.

Linda introduced Paul to vegetarianism in 1975; she subsequently promoted the cause through a number of successful cookbooks. In 1991 she began producing a range of frozen meals under the brandname Linda McCartney Foods, which made her independently wealthy.

Paul and Linda McCartney, 1976She also supported a number of animal rights organisations, including PETA and League Against Cruel Sports. She also supported The Council For The Protection of Rural England and Friends Of The Earth.

In 1995 Linda McCartney was diagnosed with breast cancer, which later spread to her liver. She died at the age of 56, on 17 April 1998, at the family ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Paul’s final words to her reportedly were: “You’re up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion. It’s a fine spring day. We’re riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear-blue”.

She was cremated in Tucson, and her ashes were later scattered at the family’s farm in Sussex. Memorial services were held at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, which was attended by George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and at Riverside Church in Manhattan.

Paul McCartney has pledged to continue her work in promoting animal rights issues, and to keep her food range free of genetically modified products. In 2000 a cancer clinic, the Linda McCartney Centre, opened at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital; the same year McCartney announced donations of over $2 million for cancer research.

In November 2002 the Linda McCartney Kintyre Memorial Trust opened a memorial garden in Campbeltown. It included a bronze statue of Linda by sculptor Jane Robbins, which had been commissioned by Paul.

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