LONDON — Well, now we’ve gone and done it. The whole sad and depressing tabloid sideshow — will Meghan Markle’s father walk his daughter down the aisle? — has been answered.
In a statement from Kensington Palace on Thursday morning, the royal bride-to-be announced, “Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding.”
This ends the distressing cliffhanger — powered by the TMZ celebrity news website, which dribbled out the scoops — over whether Thomas Markle’s heart health and his ability to withstand the pressure of a royal wedding would allow the 73-year-old to travel from his retirement in Mexico to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for his daughter's wedding to Prince Harry.
Meghan Markle on Thursday said, “I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.”
She added, “I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.”
Thomas Markle’s health has been the subject of confused and contradictory reports in recent days.
In the last week, TMZ reported that Markle had suffered a heart attack; checked himself out of the hospital; was recovering; was experiencing chest pains; was “popping Valium” to calm down; was heading back to the hospital; and then on Wednesday had surgery to remove blockage and have three stents installed.
TMZ said Markle senior was now “alert and coherent.”
It quoted him saying: “I’m OK. It will take a long time to heal. Staying in the hospital a few more days. Not allowed to get excited.”
Markle’s stress was certainly compounded by the upcoming wedding. The British press reported that paparazzi had moved in next door to his home in Mexico. He complained of being portrayed poorly, buying beer and acting the recluse.
That’s when Meghan Markle’s estranged half sister, Samantha Markle, author of the upcoming “The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister,” persuaded Markle the elder to pose and be paid for paparazzo shots.
Samantha Markle told the daytime TV chat show “Loose Women” that “I have to say I am entirely the culprit.”
“As we know the media can take very unflattering photos of things by the day,” she said. “They photograph you in unflattering ways, so I said you need to show the world that you’re getting in shape and doing good things.”
Reportedly, the elder Markle was unhappy with the photographs, which he said looked “hammy,” and mortified that there were rumors of blowback from the frowny-faced palace.
He was also raked over the coals — by the likes of TV personalty Piers Morgan — for taking the money and profiting on his daughter’s upcoming nuptials.
Around then, Thomas Markle began to say he would not attend his daughter’s wedding because he was ashamed of what he had done and did not want to embarrass Meghan, Harry and the royal family.
All of this raises one additional question. Kensington Palace has a little army of very astute P.R. professionals. British columnists have wondered aloud why weren't one or two of them deployed to help Thomas Markle avoid walking into the roaring propellers of a globalized entertainment, a.k.a. a royal wedding.
They should have known he was in a weak position, that he would be beset by offers and photographers and aided by well-meaning family and false friends.