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How Prince Dragged His Grieving Wife Out of Bed Soon After Son Died for an Oprah Interview

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In a new memoir Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia shares the story of their four-year marriage and the tragedy that tore them apart. Subscribe now for the exclusive excerpt – only in PEOPLE!

In the fall of 1996, Mayte Garcia was still grieving the loss of her and then-husband Prince‘s first child – a boy, Amiir, who died just days after his birth from a rare genetic disorder known as Pfeiffer syndrome.

Yet the enigmatic singer asked Garcia to quickly return to the spotlight, surprising her with a visit from Oprah Winfrey while she was still prostrate with grief, the now-43-year-old reveals in her upcoming memoir, The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, which appears in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

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“Oprah’s coming to Paisley. Today,” Prince told Garcia not long after Amiir’s death. Though Garcia begged Prince – who died in April 2016 from an accidental overdose of the pain-killer fentanyl – to tell the talk show host she was ill, he said, “I need you to do this.”

Writes Garcia, “He had me on my feet, but I was sobbing. People came. A mask of heavy makeup was applied to my face. My husband took Oprah on a tour of Paisley Park, and her mission was clear. She’d come to find out if the child was dead or deformed like people were saying.”

For much more on Mayte Garcia and the new Prince book, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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Peter Zambouros

Part of the tour – which was featured in a November 1996 episode of Winfrey’s talk show, Oprah – included a stop at a nursery and playroom Prince had installed at his Paisley Park compound while Garcia was in the hospital.

“I didn’t know anything about that,” she writes. “He wanted to surprise me. Oprah saw it before I did. I have to wonder why he took her in there. They stood in the middle of this colorful paradise of toys. It had everything a perfect nursery needs, except for the only thing a perfect nursery needs.”

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Garcia says Oprah asked about the baby’s rumored health problems, to which Prince responded, “It was all good.”

“I sat on the sofa, smiling a pretty ballerina smile. I’d been instructed by my husband, ‘Say nothing about Amiir,’ ” she says.

Cheyenne Ellis

The couple’s loss put strain on their marriage, ultimately leading to its dissolution in 2000 after four years.

Of her decision to detail such a painful period in her life for the public, Garcia tells PEOPLE, “I’ve been making notes of my life but when it finally came time to write it, it took me back and I cried many tears. But I also think that it’s liberating.”