Back in October 2019, the whole of Britain temporarily dropped everything in order to obsess over a single tweet, sent without warning by the wife of former England soccer captain Wayne Rooney.
In the tweet, Coleen Rooney calmly explained that one of her Instagram followers had been selling stories about her to The Sun. And to smoke out the rat, Coleen had blocked all but one account from viewing her Instagram stories. She then created an elaborate litany of fictitious woes about flooded basements and car crashes and attempts to gender-select her next baby—to see whether this single viewer would leak them to the press. They did. The tweet ended with an explosive, and now legendary, accusation: “It’s ……….Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
The U.K. suffers from a national obsession with WAGs. These are the wives and girlfriends of the England football team, who for years have been a clattering, high-status, low-talent sideshow to every international tournament—as well as an annuity to the tabloid press. Thanks to her husband’s position within the squad, Coleen had long been seen as the leader of the WAGs. However, when underdogs Leicester City beat all odds to win the 2016 Premier League, its prolific goal scorer Jamie Vardy was catapulted into the England inner circle. Alongside him strutted his new wife, a brash former nightclub promoter named Rebekah.
Now back to the tweet. And what a tweet it was. Pristine in its construction, and rising to a crescendo that most mystery writers could only hope to emulate, it landed with such force that within minutes Coleen was crowned “Wagatha Christie” by the Internet. In response, Rebekah denied the claims and sued Coleen for libel.
On May 10, the whole sorry mess finally made it to London’s High Court. The proceeding trial has, in turn, been riotous, dramatic, hilarious, and blisteringly profane. But before the trial even began, observers had a sense of how things would play out. During a preliminary hearing it was reported that Vardy would be unable to submit every WhatsApp message related to the case—because some messages were accidentally deleted when she tried to export them.
Thanks to her husband’s position within the squad, Coleen had long been seen as the leader of the WAGs.
Her former agent, Caroline Watt, would be similarly powerless to assist since, in what can only be described as a freak accident, she had dropped her phone to the bottom of the North Sea during a boat trip. Still, the fragments of remaining messages hint at what might have been. For instance, we now know that Rebekah’s response to being unfollowed by Coleen on Instagram in 2019 was to text “What a cunt” to Watt.
Even without all the facts, the first half of the trial managed to paint an extraordinary picture of Rebekah and what motivates her. Between sobbing fits so violent that the trial had to be paused multiple times, Rebekah was forced to defend herself against accusations that she habitually blabbed to the press. Most notoriously, she once compared the penis of English pop singer Peter Andre to “a miniature chipolata.”
As a brief aside, it’s worth pointing out that Andre has disputed the claim, arguing that “it’s the size of the Sky remote control—I’ve measured it.” His glamour-model ex-wife, Katie Price, added, for clarity, that the remote control in question is “the one with the grey bits on—that’s bigger than the normal remote.” However, the song that Price performed drunk at a karaoke bar in Majorca in 2016, with lyrics amended to announce that her new boyfriend had a bigger penis than Andre, would appear to refute this.
Additionally, when Jamie Vardy’s teammate Danny Drinkwater was arrested for driving under the influence, Rebekah quickly messaged Watt the details of the arrest, before adding, in her own take on the English language, “I want paying for this.” When Watt reported back to explain that someone had already beaten her to the punch, Rebekah wrote: “Fuck.” “That would have been a fortune,” Watt replied in commiseration.
Incidentally, due to ill health, Watt did not appear in court. And this might be for the best, given that one of her messages appears to explicitly admit to having leaked Coleen’s stories. But still, Rebekah is on record as sending a message (apparently in response to an Instagram story about Coleen’s crashed car) that read, “She’s a nasty bitch… would love to leak those stories,” so at least Watts isn’t alone. Again, it is worth pointing out that this whole circus was Rebekah’s idea.
Rebekah’s response to being unfollowed by Coleen on Instagram in 2019 was to text “What a cunt” to Watt.
There have long been rumors of discord between Coleen and Rebekah. And according to Wayne Rooney, it was so flagrant that former England manager Roy Hodgson once asked Wayne to ask Jamie Vardy to ask Rebekah to “calm down.” Nevertheless, the court did hear that Rebekah did attempt to improve relations by sending a message on the anniversary of Coleen’s sister’s death—something she then relayed to Watt by saying, “I swear she better not cunt me off.”
Coleen has enjoyed a much easier ride than her opponent. Appearing in court in a plastic boot following a foot injury, she has relentlessly sold herself as a sad and lonely housewife who cried with homesickness after moving to America in 2018, when Wayne signed with D.C. United, and conducted her amateur investigation while her husband “misbehaved” with a blonde barmaid.
The trial ended this week in slightly underpowered fashion. The Rooneys were not present for the final day because they went on holiday with their children Kai, Klay, Kitt, and Cass. And Rebekah, at least according to reports, “stormed out” after just 30 minutes—a marked change of behaviour from someone who had apparently spent the preceding weeks “doodling flowers and desert islands” in her notepad to pass the time.
The judge’s verdict won’t be heard for some time, but that hasn’t stopped the country from commenting. The BBC has already produced an 11-part (and counting) podcast series about the trial called It’s… Wagatha Christie. Brands have rushed to participate, with popcorn company Butterkist tweeting a doctored courtroom sketch of all in attendance excitedly munching its product. Unofficial Wagatha Christie greetings cards, T-shirts, and mugs are all available to buy online. There is bound to be an American Crime Story–style TV dramatization of the case at some point, and the role of Rebekah is by far the juiciest. Who should play her? Perhaps the young actress who was once earmarked for a never-made rags-to-riches Leicester City biopic: Meghan Markle, please step forward.
In truth, whatever happens here, the only winner will be the British public. The first week of Wagatha Christie slotted neatly into the gap left by the paused Depp v. Heard lawsuit, and, in comparison, it was like a dip in a cleansing stream. While the Depp trial has been ferociously ugly, instantly obliterating two high-profile careers in an orgy of violence and hatred, Wagatha is just hilariously petty. It is, at its core, an argument about nothing, between two talent-adjacent figures whose lives appear to be so simultaneously opulent and empty that they have to fill up on schoolyard gossip. It is every conceivable WAG stereotype coming gloriously to life. There are many, many more important things happening in the world right now, and we will get back to those presently. In the meantime, though: God, we deserve this.
Stuart Heritage is a Kent, U.K.–based Writer at Large for AIR MAIL and the author of Bedtime Stories for Worried Liberals