Mary Portas and her wife are set to divorce after becoming one of the first gay couples to marry when the ban on equal marriage was lifted.

The Mary Queen Of Shops star and Melanie Rickey have separated after 17 years together and have already sold their shared £5milion north London mansion.

Fashion writer Melanie gave birth to the couple's son Horatio – using Mary's brother Lawrence's sperm – six years ago, and the pair converted their civil partnership to a full marriage in 2014.

In a statement explaining their split, the exes insisted there was no third-party involvement.

"After 17 years together we have decided to separate. There is no one else involved," they said.

"We have spent the last year consciously managing our separation in as good-heartedly, open, and mature a way as possible to ensure a smooth, amicable evolution for us.

"We remain a family, and are committed co-parents to three wonderful humans (plus Walter the dog!) who are our priority. We remain good friends, and will share much together going forward."

A friend of the couple added to the Sun : "In the end they decided they were better off as wonderful friends."

Mary, 58, started dating Melanie in 2003. She was previously married to Graham Portas, the father of her two adult children. Their 13-year marriage came to an end that same year.

Recently, the TV presenter and former government adviser spoke about discovering her true sexuality when falling for her future wife.

"It wasn't a case of, 'Ooh, I've been thinking about Linda Evangelista.' So in one way, it was just about Melanie. But there was a sexual attraction. I do love women.

"What surprised me after was that so many women are fluid in this way. I'd meet them and they'd say, 'I was married, now I'm with a woman'," she added.

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