England’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are asking for “understanding and respect” for Markle’s dad after a big name news site detailed he would not go to the royal wedding to walk his little girl down the aisle, Kensington Palace said on Monday night.
A palace statement on “this difficult situation” did not confirm the TMZ report that Thomas Markle had decided not to attend Saturday’s wedding at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The palace said earlier it would not comment on the report, and its statement did not clarify if the bride’s father would or would not be at the wedding.
“This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding,” the palace statement said. “She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”
TMZ said Thomas Markle was upset over the way his decision to have staged paparazzi photos taken of him preparing for the wedding has been received and decided to miss the wedding to avoid embarrassing his daughter and the royal family.
According to TMZ, he told the website he regretted allowing the pictures to be taken and acknowledged they looked “stupid.” The website reported that he said money was not his primary motivation for agreeing to be photographed.
Meghan Markle’s half-sister, Samantha, tweeted Monday that she is 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.”
The site also said he suffered a heart attack less than a week ago, and was returning to the hospital on Monday with more chest pains.
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 II and other senior royals in the days before the wedding.
Thomas Markle and Ragland divorced when their daughter was 6-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. The Associated Press has been unable to reach him for comment.
Thomas was set to walk Meghan down the aisle during the church ceremony, and Ragland plans to ride to the chapel with her daughter. Both were to be entertained this week by the queen and other senior royals, including Prince Charles and Prince William.
Harry and Markle have invited 600 guests to the wedding, which will be followed by a gala reception hosted by the queen.