Prince Harry once said the royals were the family Meghan Markle never had.
Now, the painful truth of that off-the-cuff statement will be visible for all to see.
In a devastating blow to the carefully laid plans for the royal wedding on Saturday, the father of the bride will not be attending the event at Windsor Castle after he was caught collaborating with a photographer to produce staged photos sold as candid snaps.
Thomas Markle Sr, 73, had been due to walk his daughter, Meghan, down the aisle, but he said today that he will not be attending because he doesn’t want to embarrass the royal family or his daughter.
Kensington Palace appeared to confirm the reports when they issued a statement saying: “This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”
The statement capped an extraordinary sequence of events which saw Markle Sr. telling the website TMZ that he was pulling out of the wedding of the year after the Mail on Sunday revealed that he posed for a paparazzi photographer who took a number of photographs which appeared to show him preparing for the wedding. He added that he suffered a heart attack six days ago.
Markle admitted to TMZ he that was given money to participate in the shoots, “though nowhere near the reported $100k.”
He said he thought it would help recast his image, but added he now “deeply regrets” participating.
TMZ said that their reporter spoke to Markle directly and on the record.
Markle also told TMZ that he suffered a heart attack six days ago but checked himself out of the hospital so he could attend the wedding.
Kensington Palace appeared to be caught unawares by Markle’s impromptu interview. However they did eventually release the short statement, which, while not directly mentioning Markle’s no-show, did appear to confirm he would not be attending.
The Daily Beast suggested last night that Markle, who was captured on CCTV posing in humorous set-ups such as getting measured for a new suit, checking out Prince Harry news online, and lifting weights to get in shape ahead of the wedding, may have been “persuaded that supplying some images would be a sensible way to manage the media interest in him.”
His daughter, Samantha Grant, who does not speak to her half-sister Meghan, and has not been invited to the wedding, attempted to deflect the blame for the debacle onto herself, saying today on Twitter: “The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault.
“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.
“We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money.”
The news is likely to come as a crushing blow to Meghan.
Just last week, to great fanfare, it was announced that Thomas would be walking his daughter down the aisle.
Many reports have said that he is a shy man, and he lives a reclusive life in a Mexican beach resort.
He was due to meet the queen, Prince Philip, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.