Panayiotou was found dead by her older sister, Yioda, on Christmas evening. According to The Guardian, the Metropolitan police said they were called by the London Ambulance Service shortly after 7:30 p.m. about the sudden death of a woman. Her death is not considered suspicious.
“We can confirm that very tragically, Melanie has passed away suddenly. We would simply ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this very sad time,” Panayiotou’s family lawyer said in a statement obtained by multiple media outlets.
Michael and Panayiotou had a close relationship. She traveled with Michael, cutting his hair on tour.
Panayiotou, along with Yioda, their father Jack and Michael’s former manager David Austin, issued a Christmas message on Dec. 23.
“We have come full circle again, and Christmas time (and the holidays) are upon us once more. I think we as a family, (there are lots of us, we Greek Cypriots, we’re everywhere) have come to fully appreciate (although we already knew really), quite how much love there is out there in the world, for both Yog [Michael’s nickname] and his beautiful music,” the statement reads.
“We know how much his lyrics can offer support when things are tough and help celebrate when times are good and life is going well and that is just as powerful now as if he were still with us, and as many of you say in your messages, it’s a gift,” it continues.
In last month’s edition of U.K. magazine The Big Issue, Panayiotou discussed “Last Christmas,” the romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding that was inspired by Michael’s music.
“My family and I hope you all enjoy the film, and Yog’s music old and new, woven beautifully into this fun, easy tale of love and self-love. As many of you know, Yog adored Christmas,” she said.