INSIDE STORY: The Jackson Children

07/09/2009 at 02:10 PM EDT

INSIDE STORY: The Jackson Children
From left: Paris, Prince and Blanket Jackson at father Michael Jackson's memorial in 2009
Mark J. Terrill/AP
At the Michael Jackson memorial Tuesday, the world met – and was deeply moved by – the King of Pop's 11-year-old daughter, Paris, who gave an unplanned, emotional tribute to her father.

For most of her life, Paris, and her brothers Prince Michael I, 12, and Prince Michael II (a.k.a. "Blanket"), 7, were carefully shrouded from the public eye, often emerging with their father wearing colorful masks. So, who are the Jackson children?

According to family friend Gotham Chopra, the late star's eldest son Prince is a "fun kid" who "has a lot of energy." He describes Paris as "very thoughtful, very caring, and very sensitive" and quiet Blanket as "a lot like Michael."

As PEOPLE reported in 2007, by all accounts, the kids are bright, well-behaved and seemingly well-adjusted. A spokesman from the National Zoo, who accompanied the family on a visit, told PEOPLE at the time, "I was struck by how considerate and nice and normal they all were." Jackson's longtime bodyguard Miko Brando recently echoed that sentiment. "They are well-mannered, well-behaved kids," he said. "They are really level-headed."

A Normal Dad

It may seem like a contradiction, given their father's staggering fame and highly scrutinized lifestyle, but many say that as a father, Jackson was nothing but normal and loving. "There were a few times he brought his kids to work," says tour dancer Christopher "Kriyss" Grant. "You could tell by the way they looked at him that they adored him."

Adds Jackson's former publicist Raymone Bain: "They were Michael's first priority."

Looking forward, Prince, Paris and Blanket will continue to be well cared for. "The Jacksons have come together and are really loving the kids," says Chopra. "Cousins and puppies are [around in] full-force, and the kids are enjoying [it]." And no matter what the public may have thought about Jackson, adds Bain, "his children will be his greatest legacy."

Reporting by CHAMP CLARK, JOHNNY DODD and LESLEY MESSER

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