Maybe all Meghan Markle’s troublesome dad is interested in is money. So why don’t the royals try paying him off? It’s not like they haven’t done that before.
In his interview with the Sun on Sunday, Thomas Markle showed a razor-sharp understanding of the root cause of the problems between himself and his daughter and the British royal family: his pursuit of money.
“The reason I am being shunned is because I made a profit on the staged pictures. Anyone who makes a profit off the Royal Family becomes shunned. But I could have made well over $100,000 by just doing a talk show. Half of Great Britain seems to make a fortune selling pictures of my daughter and her husband. Are they shunned?”
Thomas Markle is 100 percent right. There may be bad blood with his daughter going back to childhood, as The Daily Beast reported this week, but, from the fact that he was invited to have a central role in the wedding, we can conclude Meghan was more than ready to paper over any cracks in their relationship.
The reason she can no longer risk talking to him is very simple: it is because he has taken to doing paid media appearances which show he cannot be trusted. Royals prize discretion above all, and Thomas has shown himself to be astonishingly indiscreet. He might well sell the details of any reunion with his daughter to the highest bidder.
Samantha Markle, Meghan’s outspoken half-sister, has blatantly sought to cash in on her connections to Meghan, despite the fact they did not grow up together, are separated in age by two decades and haven’t talked in ten years.
Samantha, who is writing a book about Meghan and has reportedly been booked to appear on the UK reality show Big Brother, justified her money-making when she appeared on Good Morning Britain recently, saying: “Let’s face it, we all have to survive. Money makes the world go round, so if you want to call that cashing in, that’s fine. But no one in media would refuse a paycheck for talking about the royals.”
The uncomfortable truth is that, whatever you think of them as people, both Thomas and Samantha Markle have entirely reasonable points about this larger context to the cashing-in allegations.
For if there is one thing that the senior members of the royal family can’t abide—especially the old guard as represented by Prince Philip and the Queen—it is people trading off their name.
Equally, if there is one thing that is a fact of royal life and always has been, it is the myriad minor satellites of the senior royals doing exactly that, and getting away with it.
Prince Andrew, his wife and their children are among the royals to most shamelessly seek to monetize their status. Prince Charles’ brother Andrew accepted a payment from a Kazakh oligarch who paid £3 million over the market value for his derelict house.
How did the palace respond? Into the sand went their heads. They simply turned a blind eye and have never issued any formal reprimand to Andrew over the payment.
Prince Edward’s desire to make money led to him selling TV shows about the royals to American cable channels. His company, Ardent, actually sent a crew to film candid shots of his brother’s son, Prince William, at St Andrew’s university during his brief and terrible career as a TV producer, while other UK broadcasters were observing a media blackout.
His wife Sophie was caught making multiple indiscretions about the royals by the News of The World’s "fake sheikh" Mazher Mahmood as she tried to impress a reporter who she thought was a potential new client for her PR business, in 2001. The ‘Sophie Tapes’ were spread across 10 pages.
Edward was effectively paid off by the family to the tune of a quarter of a million pounds, and told that if he gave up his pretensions to a career in TV he could have a gig as a full time working royal. His life as a professional grip-and-grin artist is subsidised by the Sovereign Grant.
Thomas and Samantha Markle might also bolster their cases by referring to Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, who has been quite open about using her status as ‘Sarah the Duchess’ to plug a bewildering array of products online and on US shopping channels. It is hard to believe she would have received over a million dollars for endorsing Weight Watchers but for her royal connections.
Prince Philip has never forgiven her and refuses to be in the same room as her, but Fergie’s money-making ventures have now been more or less completely accepted by the rest of the royal establishment. She is a regular guest at the Queen’s Scottish estate.
In fairness, however, one has to ask, what else these people are supposed to do?
Were she not Kate’s sister, the averagely talented writer Pippa Middleton might not have been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for a book which noted that turkeys are ‘perfect for larger gatherings’ or have been given a column in Vanity Fair, but what is the alternative?
There is an argument to be made that it is better that private enterprise picks up the tab for the Pippas, Fergies, Beatrices and Eugenies of this world rather than them receiving, as they would have done in the old days, a sinecure and a lady-in-waiting job. Certainly an integral part of Prince Charles’s plan for a slimmed-down monarchy is that more minor royals get jobs and live as private citizens.
Whether or not Thomas Markle really wants a payout, it’s incredible to think that a royal aide has not at least been dispatched to Mexico to have a chat with him, and perhaps see if picking up the tab for a lease on a nicer apartment, for example, might not reassure him of Meghan’s good intentions.
Harry and William have got rid of the stuffy old press team of their grandparents' generation and replaced them with dynamic youngsters – now is the time for those young bloods to earn their spurs and, when it comes to Thomas, make a concerted push to do something differently.
As Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, told Yahoo’s show The Royal Box this week: “There is no protocol for people like Thomas Markle, or in-laws, and people who marry into the Royal Family are lost at sea. They have embraced Meghan, they are keeping Meghan safe, but what about all the people in her world, on the fringes?
“What do you do if your daughter marries into the royal family? Poor Thomas Markle doesn't know how to behave, he is lost.
“Meghan and Harry should get on a plane, privately, go to the States, sit round a table. It’s not easy. But somebody has to fix it before it gets more broken."