LONDON — Meghan Markle’s father said that Prince Harry told him to give Donald Trump a chance and suggested that he was open about Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
In a lengthy interview with the British broadcaster ITV, Thomas Markle said Harry was an “interesting guy” and “easy to talk to.” He said they had not yet met in person but had chatted on the phone about various issues, including Donald Trump and Britain's exit from the E.U., known as Brexit.
“Our conversation was, I was complaining I didn’t like Donald Trump. He said, 'Give Donald Trump a chance.' I sort of disagreed with that. But I still like Harry. That was his politics; I have my politics.”
Asked if he thought Harry was a Trump supporter, Markle said: “I would hope not now. But at the time, he might have been.”
Markle said that when they spoke for the very first time, last year, Harry asked him how we was doing.
“He was asking me how I was feeling that day, and I was telling him how unhappy I was with the president, or with the idea of Trump, and that’s how it began,” Markle said.
On Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, Markle said of his talks with his future son-in-law: “It was just a loose conversation about something we have to try. There was no real commitment to it.... I think he was open to the experiment.”
Party politics are a no-go zone for senior members of the royal family, and they are expected to steer clear of political issues such as Brexit, which remains deeply divisive in Britain.
Markle also spoke about missing his daughter’s wedding last month in Windsor.
“I absolutely wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle,” Markle told ITV's “Good Morning Britain.” But he said his poor health meant that he could not make the wedding on May 19, which was watched around the world.
“Meghan cried, I'm sure, she did cry, and they both said, 'Take care of yourself, we are really worried about you,’” said Markle, 73, recounting the moment when he told his daughter he would not be able to attend the wedding.
Markle, a mild-mannered former lighting director, said: “The unfortunate thing for me now is I'm a footnote in one of the greatest moments in history rather than the dad walking her down the aisle. That upsets me somewhat.”
But he was quick to add that he was “honored” that Prince Charles, Harry’s father and heir to the throne, walked his daughter down the aisle at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel.
“I can't think of a better replacement than someone like Prince Charles,” he told the program.
In the lead-up to the royal event of the year, there was fevered speculation over whether Markle would attend the wedding. Just days before the event, Markle had heart surgery — he had three stents implanted — and said he would not be able to make it to the wedding. Palace officials announced the day before the nuptials that Prince Charles would walk Meghan down the aisle. Markle told ITV on Monday that he was recovering well from the surgery.
Markle also spoke about the moment when Harry asked him for permission to marry his daughter. He said his daughter had told him about the engagement first, and then in a subsequent phone conversation, Harry joined Meghan on the phone and asked for his permission.
“Harry asked for her hand on the phone, and I said: 'You are a gentleman. Promise me you will never raise your hand against my daughter, and of course I give you my permission.'”
He said that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as the couple are now known, would likely try to have children soon.
“She's wanted children for a long time,” Markle said of his daughter.
He also spoke about the brouhaha over his working with a photographer to stage photos that he had hoped would “improve my look.”
“This was a presentation to me to change my image because for the last year, photographs of me were always derogatory. They would take pictures of my hand grabbing a beer; they’d take pictures of me getting out of my car, taking the garbage out; they’d take pictures of me buying a toilet and making a big deal out of it. They take all kinds of pictures of me making me look negative,” Markle said, choking up.
“I thought this was a nice way of me improving my look. Obviously, that all went to hell. And I feel bad about it. I apologized for it,” he said. He said that after that incident, he was still planning to attend the wedding, but then could not because of his health.
He said he was not prepared for the global media attention on his family following his daughter’s engagement to a British royal. But he said his daughter would “rise to that occasion.”
“My daughter is capable of anything,” said the proud dad. “And she will certainly be a complement to the royal family.”