CHANTELLE Houghton famously met, married and split from Preston from the Ordinary Boys in just over a year, but that has not put her off whirlwind romances.
Far from it. The mum of one who won Celebrity Big Brother 14 years ago is engaged again.
And Chantelle said “yes” just THREE MONTHS into her relationship with Michael Strutt, who she now lives with in Wickford, Essex.
And despite splitting from Preston ten months after their lavish £300k ceremony, Chantelle, now 37, says she still loves him and he will be a guest at her wedding in 2022.
She says: “Preston is a one-off person. What we had was real back then and I still love him so much.
“I feel so lucky to have gone through what I did with him. Our relationship was completely real but we were so young.
“It was so long ago and when I look back, I can’t believe how brave I was going on Celebrity Big Brother then going off to marry.
“At the time it was obviously amazing but now I am older, I have realised what true love is.
“Right now, I couldn’t be happier. I have met Michael and he is so perfect for me.”
Chantelle and the property developer, 35, began dating in January and on April 30 he proposed.
Sharing a picture of the engagement ring on Instagram, Chantelle, who has been single since 2014, wrote: “OK, I know it’s lockdown and isolation but he just asked me to marry him: I said YES. I will love him for ever.”
Chantelle says: “As soon as lockdown started we moved in with each other. Nothing changed between us. If anything, we got closer.
“It was just one random night, I was making spaghetti bolognese and when I turned around he was on one knee.
“I couldn’t believe it. It took me by complete surprise. I thought it was a joke.
“Once I realised he had the ring and everything, of course I said yes. The proposal couldn’t have been any simpler, which I really like.
“I know it’s early days but when you know, you just know. He is not interested in the whole limelight thing, which I really love.
“And I know he really loves me. I can always be my absolute self with him — which is something I have never felt before.
“It has all been a natural organic process with us. It just feels so real and raw.
“I love that I can always be stupid around him. I know I have found a good one.”
Chantelle was 22 when she won Celebrity Big Brother in January 2006, after pretending to be in an imaginary girl band called Kandy Floss.
She and Preston (full name Samuel Preston) were close but he got engaged to his long-term French girlfriend Camille Aznar a week after leaving the house, before breaking up a month later.
Chantelle moved into his flat in Brighton, they were engaged by April, married by August and separated the following June.
She says: “Michael has never been married before — and even though I have, I don’t feel like I have.
“Mine and Preston’s romance was such a whirlwind. I don’t regret it. We were young and carefree.
“And as my mum would say it is just one (a story) for the rocking chair.
“But this time around, I am older, more mature and all I really want is to settle down properly.
“I am so excited. We have started to think about the guest list.
“Preston wished me congratulations and asked if he has got an invite, and I was like, ‘Of course!’
“And Michael is fine with it all. He understands what it is.
“When I married Preston, I thought it was set in stone. You can marry the love of your life but then your lives might not go in the same direction.
“You can only be sure as sure can be. It can last ten years or it can last a lifetime but as long as you are sure in that moment, that is all you can do. And I certainly am sure now.”
Following the breakdown of her first marriage, Chantelle and Preston, now 38, released a joint statement saying: “After much soul-searching and tearful discussions, we have sadly decided to end our marriage.”
But in an interview with Piers Morgan in 2008, Chantelle said Preston had told her a month before their wedding he did not want to marry her.
Despite the misgivings, they tied the knot — only to break up ten months later.
I’ll never regret marrying Preston. We were young and carefree.
Chantelle then dated Katie Price’s ex-husband and 2010 Celebrity Big Brother winner Alex Reid, now 45. In June 2012 the couple had a baby girl but they split a few months later.
Chantelle admits she has had her fair share of dodgy dates over the years.
She says: “When I was 25, I went on another date with this guy I had met in a London bar. But he was so boring. I texted my friend asking her to ring me because I wanted to get away.
“But instead of texting my friend I accidentally sent the text to him. Let’s just say the date ended there.
“When I was 32, I met a guy at a bar and agreed to go on a lunch date the next day.
“He told me he was just coming out of Barclays bank, so could I pick him up outside.
“I said yes but he was wearing the tiniest shorts I’ve ever seen, sweat bands, a bum bag and a headband, all in neon yellow and green. I sped off as fast as I could.”
While Chantelle has only been dating Michael for eight months, they have known each other for nine years — and she is sure she has finally found The One.
She says: “He lived next door to my mum and he was actually in a relationship for 12 years. I never looked at him as anything more than my mum’s neighbour.
“You can appreciate when someone is good-looking but I never thought more than that.
“But then he became single and we got chatting on Instagram, and then one thing led to another.
“I just think it’s nice to meet someone through someone you know because there are so many weirdos out there.
“You just can’t trust anybody at all. We have done it more traditionally. I am really happy.
“You have to trust your instincts and I haven’t done that for so many years. We have experienced so much in such a short amount of time.
“Michael is great fun and he is also very domesticated, which is a plus. There will never be a day that I have to pick his dirty pants off the floor.
“He is a man who likes to get things done, which is good because normally I am the one who has to do things.
“We are both really happy and cannot wait to get married.”
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