Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's royal wedding

Markle debacle: Meghan’s father to skip royal wedding, after reportedly selling access to UK tabloid

Kensington Palace requests ‘understanding and respect’ for Thomas Markle, amid ‘a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding’; estranged half-sister says paparazzi photo deal was her fault

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2018, 7:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2018, 10:08pm

This weekend’s carefully planned wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and to his fiancée Meghan Markle was mired in confusion on Tuesday after the father of the American actress told a celebrity news website he was no longer coming.

Harry, 33, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and the sixth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, will marry on Saturday at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in a ceremony that has sparked huge global media interest.

Markle’s father Thomas, 73, was due to walk his daughter down the aisle in front of 600 guests including all the senior Britain’s royals and smattering of celebrities.

However, the TMZ website reported on Monday that he had decided not to attend the glittering wedding at the castle, the home of English and British monarchs for almost 1,000 years.

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TMZ said Thomas Markle was upset over the way his decision to have staged paparazzi photos for UK tabloid The Sun, taken of him preparing for the wedding, had been received and decided to miss the wedding to avoid embarrassing his daughter and the royal family.

The site also said he suffered a heart attack less than a week ago.

“This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding,” Kensington Palace, Harry’s office, said in a statement.

“She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation.”

The palace had announced last week that Thomas Markle and his ex-wife, Doria Ragland, would play important roles in the wedding.

Both were expected to meet Queen Elizabeth and other senior royals in the days before the wedding.

The images, showing Thomas Markle being measured for a suit and admiring a photo of the future royal couple on his computer, sold for US$100,000 according to tabloid Daily Mirror.

A source close to Thomas Markle, cited by the publication, said he was convinced to pose for the shots after being hounded by the paparazzi.

He was said to feel “like a total fool” who has been “scammed”.

Meghan Markle’s estranged half-sister, Samantha, tweeted Monday that she was to blame for the photo debacle.

“The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault,” she tweeted.

“The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family.”

Meghan Markle is estranged from her half-sister, who has not been expected to attend the nuptials, and from her half-brother.

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Thomas Markle and Ragland divorced when their daughter was six years old, but they both played an active role raising her.

He spent many years supervising the lighting and camera crew for the Married … With Children television show and often brought young Meghan to the set at Sunset Gower Studios. Since retired, he has been living in Mexico.

Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse