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Beckhams: With amount of cash invested in their marriage, Posh and David just have to be picture perfect

There is more riding on the Beckhams' happy family image than their family's happiness, says Sophie Donaldson

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The Beckhams have always been masters at carefully cultivating an image of perfection

After 19 years of marriage, the Beckhams have become adept at repudiating even a suggestion of matrimonial doom. After a particularly nasty set of rumours abounded during the summer that their marriage was ending, they were compelled to issue separate statements denying that divorce was imminent, with a spokesperson labelling the stories as "nonsense".

Because we live in an age when a Snapchat confession bears infinitely more weight than an official statement, Victoria attempted to quash any residual whispers by uploading a romantic snap of herself and David at dinner celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary, with the caption "I love you".

Although it was saccharine enough to keep her 22 million followers ensconced in the spectacle that is Brand Beckham, rumours persisted that all was not well.

To remedy the situation, the Beckhams have played their trump card in the form of a family portrait.

While they are probably Britain's most-papped family and Victoria regularly uploads intimate family snaps to her Instagram page, the Beckhams have never posed as a family for a publication.

It was, of course, Vogue that was given first dibs on what would have been a highly sought-after exclusive.

On the cover of the magazine's October issue, released last week, Victoria poses with her four children; a special subscriber's edition has a different cover, this time with just Victoria and David, although their daughter can be seen just beyond the masthead.

Not only is it a major coup for editor Edward Enninful, but for the Beckhams, too. Victoria has been featured on those glossy pages countless times, but the arrival of these polished family photographs is rather timely.

Any persistent rumours that the Beckham family unit is in jeopardy will be well and truly vanquished thanks to the power of Vogue.

It is not the first time - nor will it be the last - that a celebrity couple will galvanise their union with a highly-publicised family portrait.

In January 1961, a young American president-elect was looking to bolster his image before taking office and took the somewhat unconventional route of posing for another fashion bible, alongside his beautiful wife and children.

The photographs, which were published in the February issue of Harper's Bazaar, depicted John F Kennedy, the doting father and ultimate family man, alongside his adoring wife, Jackie.

Just as Victoria and David are no doubt pinning their hopes on these images to dispel any suggestion that their marriage is on the rocks, JFK hoped that "the photographs would encourage people to think of him as a reliable family man", writes Vanity Fair's Robert Dallek.

Not only that, he notes, but given "Kennedy's history of womanising, was this also a way to insulate himself from public speculation?"

Perhaps. And perhaps the Beckhams have taken note.

Despite his notoriety, JFK went on to become arguably the most popular US president of the 20th century.

Although their marriage was marred by allegations of an affair between David and his former assistant, Rebecca Loos, the Beckhams have emerged as one of the world's most famous families. Or, as Edward Enninful puts it, Britain's "second royal family".

There is more riding on their happy family image than just, you know, their happiness.

As Victoria herself put it in her Vogue interview: "We both realise that we are stronger together than we are as individuals. Would either of us be in the position that we are in now had we not met and been together all those years ago?"

Their position - financial or otherwise - is certainly bolstered by their partnership.

Victoria is the oft-cited brains behind the operation, having carefully crafted both her husband and her family's image over the years - not to mention her own.

Victoria is the oft-cited brains behind the operation, having carefully crafted both her husband and her family's image over the years - not to mention her own.

She is a master of reinvention, morphing from a mouthy drama student from Essex into the vinyl-clad, stony-faced Posh Spice, then emerging as a tawny and toned WAG and now a svelte fashion plate, who counts Anna Wintour as a close friend - no mean feat considering those questionable hair extensions she was sporting just over a decade ago.

Of course, the popularity of public figures like the Beckhams isn't all down to glossy magazine shoots.

It happens over time, with every gushing interview, "candid" paparazzo photo, cooing Instagram post, heartfelt statement and red carpet appearance adding a fine layer of varnish to a gleaming veneer that is indispensable when your marriage is not just romance, but business.

With so much money to be made from matrimony, the Beckhams can't afford to look anything less than picture perfect.

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The Beckhams have always been masters at carefully cultivating an image of perfection