Chelsea Clinton grew up in the public eye, going from an introverted First Daughter to an A-list public figure friendly with the likes of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. A newspaper advert celebrating Bill Clinton's 2000 visit to India accompanied by his daughter for the second time summed it all up: "Welcome back Chelsea," it read, "And thanks for bringing your dad."
Chelsea Victoria Clinton was born on February 27, 1980, during her father William Jefferson Clinton's first term in office as the governor of Arkansas. The curly-haired only child of politician Bill and his attorney wife Hillary showed she was razor sharp early on. Describing her as "precocious", a family friend recalls: "As a toddler, instead of saying, 'I have to get a shot', she'd say, 'I have to get my immunisations'."
Her parents supported her academic prowess, with dad Bill keeping a miniature desk for his daughter in the governor's office. Soon, the bright little girl was nearing her teens, excelling at her studies as she developed an interest in drama and ballet. "Responsible, trustworthy; just a darn good kid" was how Uncle Tony Rodham described her. Chelsea's relatively quiet life would change, however, when her father was elected president of the United States in 1992.
Suddenly the adolescent was in the spotlight. We really work hard on making sure that Chelsea doesn't let other people define her sense of her own self-worth. It's tough when you are an adolescent," said her father at the time. "But," he predicted, "I think she'll be OK." Nonetheless, the First Couple soon developed an unspoken pact with the press that Chelsea was strictly off-limits.
With her parents trying to provide as normal a life as possible for her, Chelsea became a vegetarian, dreamed of being a pediatric cardiologist, and reportedly earned the Secret Service code name "Energy". And like any dad, Bill would worry when his 16-year-old daughter went out at night with friends. "Whenever she goes out, I wait up until she comes home, even though the Secret Service is with her," he said in 1996. "Maybe it is old-fashioned, but I just can't go to bed until she is there."
The protection her parents sought to give her with the press, at least came to an end when Chelsea decided to attend Stanford University in California. It was then that she began to make headlines on her own, much to the chagrin of her mum and dad, with her blossoming relationships with Stanford swimmer Matthew Pierce and former White House intern Jeremy Kane. And it was during her years as a Stanford student she first earned a reputation for grace under pressure, symbolically clasping the hands of both parents in public as the Monica Lewinsky scandal came to light.
"Chelsea is crucial to the family's balance," said Clinton biographer David Maraniss. "She is the one person her father could love unconditionally, and she is the centre of Hillary's emotional life."
Professional life and education
In 2001, Chelsea delivered her 167-page thesis on the Northern Ireland peace process (for which she interviewed, among others, her father) and set her sights on Britain's Oxford University where would pursue studies in International Relations. It was during her time at the prestigious institution that Chelsea began to take on true celebrity status.
She set flashbulbs popping in 2002 when she sat front row with pals Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow at Versace's Paris show sporting a sleek new look. And it was that year she began her first high-profile relationship, with Rhodes Scholar Ian Klaus, the son of an exercise equipment mogul and horse breeder.
Having learned some lessons during her many years as the First Daughter, however, Chelsea is savvy when it comes to maintaining a romance in the public eye. "I try not to thrust Ian into the limelight I don't think that's good for any relationship," she says. "It's going great, and I would like it to continue that way."
Following her time at Oxford, Chelsea moved back to the States, living in New York and working for a Wall Street hedge fund. Despite Chelsea's desire to lead her life away from the public eye and her self-imposed blanket ban on speaking to the press about her parents’ political endeavours, she stepped into the spotlight to support her mother's presidential campaign in the run-up to the 2009 elections.
And the former first daughter generated yet more headlines at the end of 2009. It was announced that she had gotten engaged to longtime love Marc Mezvinsky, a former intern in her father's White House who was working for Goldman Sachs at the time.
In an email to their friends, they confirmed the happy news, writing: “We're sorry for the mass email but we wanted to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving! We also wanted to share that we are engaged! We didn't get married this past summer despite the stories to the contrary, but we are looking toward next summer and hope you all will be there to celebrate with us. Happy Holidays! Chelsea & Marc.”
It seems her parents were happy with her choice of future husband, as Bill described him as a “great human being” one month later. No doubt he has much in common with his in-laws - he's the son of former US congressman Edward Mezvinsky and former US congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky. His mother once ran for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. So the wheels were in motion to organize what was set to be the society event of 2010, with the date set for late July. Very few details were known about the nuptials, which have been shrouded in secrecy. Those 'in the know' were under strict instructions to keep quiet – however, experts reported that the cost of the celebrations was anywhere between £2 million and £3.2 million.