Michael Jackson's sudden death may give his three beloved children something he could never provide -- a chance to be themselves.
The King of Pop devoted his life to creating a fairy-tale Never Neverland for his three young heirs, a world where the reality around them was hidden behind masks or the burly frames of professional bodyguards.
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Prince Michael Joseph, 12, Paris Michael, 11, and Prince Michael II, a k a "Blanket," 7, have never attended a day of school. They've never known a neighborhood friend. They sleep together in the same room. And the only outsiders they know are strangers their father would bring in to entertain them.
Last Christmas Eve, Jacko and his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, -- the suspected father of the two oldest children -- arranged for Carrie Fisher to surprise the kids by reprising her role as Princess Leia in "Star Wars" at their rental mansion in Holmby Hills, Calif.
"Michael brought the kids down in their pajamas and said, 'This is Princess Leia,' " said family friend Stephen Price. "They were so excited! She did her famous speech for them -- the 'Help me, Obi-Wan' speech."
"They are the greatest kids you'll ever meet," Price told Us Weekly of the Jackson kids. "They didn't act like they had silver spoons in their mouths. They are nice and not Hollywood brats. Paris is very polite, a little reserved. Prince is the most outgoing. And Blanket is a sharp kid, but also pretty quiet. When I asked what he wanted for Christmas, he said, 'I just want a stuffed animal.' "
To entertain his kids, Jacko would often take them on midnight shopping sprees in stores specially opened just for them. They hopscotched around the globe from California to Las Vegas to Bahrain to Ireland to New Jersey to Switzerland.
He showered the children with indulgences. In 2007, he shut down parts of the New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas so he and the kids could play video games and ride the roller coaster. And the kids would show up bleary-eyed at bookshops and toy stores around the world for private shopping sprees at 2 or 3 a.m.
They ate Jackson's favorite -- KFC -- for lunch and dinner.
"Prince I, Paris and Prince II were his life," Michael's longtime pal Dieter Wiesner told Life & Style. "He made breakfast for them -- a lot of people don't know this side of Michael."
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