Michael Jackson's children Paris, Prince and Blanket had a very unusual upbringing at Neverland
When they were young, Jackson would never step out with his children unless their faces were covered by sheets
After Wade Robson and James Safechuck alleged in Dan Reed's 'Leaving Neverland' that Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them as children, the focus has shifted to the late musician's three children — Michael 'Prince' Joseph Jackson Jr., Paris Jackson, and Prince Michael Jackson II, better known as Blanket — who are facing intense scrutiny ever since the documentary aired in early March.
As the children of arguably the most significant cultural figure of the 20th century, they have lived their lives always under the spotlight, even though Jackson tried ensure that their upbringing remained as private as possible.
Given the secrecy with which the musician brought up his children, there has always been several questions regarding them, especially around their parentage.
Prince and Paris were Jackson's children from his marriage with Debbie Rowe, a nurse the singer met while he was receiving treatment for vitiligo at Dr. Arnold Klein's dermatology office.
Rowe, who reportedly had a huge crush on Jackson, offered to bear his children because she knew how badly he wanted to be a father.
"He said 'I really want to be a dad,' and I said 'So be a dad,'" she said during a 2003 TV special called 'Michael Jackson: The Footage You Were Never Meant To See.'
"He looked at me puzzled. I said, 'Let me do this. I want to do this. You’ve been so good to me. Please let me do this: You need to be a dad.' I nagged him into it, if you will."
Rowe and Jackson announced they were expecting their first child in 1996, with the pair then marrying in a private ceremony in Sydney, Australia. Three months later, she gave birth to a son, Michael Jackson Joseph Jr., who was later nicknamed Prince.
Fourteen months later, Rowe gave birth to their second child, Paris. "I snatched her and just went home with all the placenta and everything all over her," Jackson said of her birth during an interview with Martin Bashir in the documentary 'Living with Michael Jackson'.
Jackson took full responsibility for both children, and after he and Rowe divorced in 1999 over her alleged discomfort with being in the public eye; Rowe gave up full custody rights of both Prince and Paris. Then, in 2001, she went to a private judge to have her parental rights for the two children terminated.
"I did it for him to become a father, not for me to become a mother," she said in the TV special. "You earn the title parent. I have done absolutely nothing to earn that title. That is because Michael did all the parenting. I didn't do it to be a mother. I didn't change diapers. I didn't get up in the middle of the night, even when I was there, Michael did it all."
In February 2002, Prince Michael Jackson II joined the family. He was born via an unnamed surrogate and would be nicknamed 'Blanket' by the singer, a name he would live up to when he was dangled over the balcony of a hotel in Berlin with a blanket covering his head nine months later.
When they were young, Jackson would never step out with his children unless their faces were covered by sheets, an idea Rowe claimed she suggested so as to protect their identity.
"I obviously have some influence, as their faces are still covered. That was my request, not his. He’s very proud of his children — I’m the one who’s terrified. I’m the one who’s seen the notes that someone’s gonna take his children," she said.
However, questions have been asked whether the children are indeed Michael's. He claimed both of his elder children were "natural conceptions" and he had used his own sperm for the insemination of the surrogate for the third child.
Rowe, however, refuted his first claim that Prince and Paris were born because of natural conception. "I went to the 'office,' which is what we called the medical clinic," she revealed. "They impregnated me. It's just like I impregnate my mares for breeding. It was very technical. Just like I stick the sperm up my horse, this is what they did to me. I was his thoroughbred."
Paris insisted during a 2017 Rolling Stones interview that Jackson was her biological father, stating that he will "always be my father" and that she considers herself black.
But in the same interview, Prince was less assured about his parentage, saying, "Every time someone asks me that, I ask, 'What’s the point? What difference does it make?' Specifically to someone who’s not involved in my life. How does that affect your life? It doesn’t change mine."
All three children have been affected by the release of 'Leaving Neverland,' with Blanket hit the hardest. Blanket, who was once said to be very talkative, has now supposedly stopped talking altogether, and Paris had to come out to slam a TMZ report suggesting she had attempted suicide.
All three are reportedly considering suing Robson and Safechuck for fraud, emotional distress, slander, and misrepresentation.