Although he was confirmed to walk his daughter Meghan down the aisle at the royal wedding, Thomas Markle now says he will not attend the nuptials. His decision was influenced by the recent fallout over his staged paparazzi photos, which made headlines over the weekend.
Markle told TMZ that he suffered a heart attack six days ago but checked himself out of the hospital in time for the May 19 wedding. However, “he’s now decided not to go because he doesn’t want to embarrass the Royal Family or his daughter.”
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The news comes less than two weeks after Kensington Palace confirmed Meghan Markle’s parents’ roles for the ceremony. Thomas Markle was set to walk his daughter down the aisle while Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was expected to accompany her in the car ride from her overnight location to the wedding venue at Windsor Castle.
Markle and Ragland (who divorced when Meghan was six years old) were slated to arrive in the UK the week of the wedding, Prince Harry‘s press secretary Jason Knauf announced. That would’ve given them enough time before the ceremony to spend time with Prince Harry’s family, including: the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla Bowles Parker, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Ragland is already reportedly in London.
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“Ms. Markle is delighted to have her parents by her side on this important and happy occasion,” Knauf said on May 4. Kensington Palace has yet to address or confirm whether Thomas Markle will be absent from the ceremony.
The initial announcement of Markle and Ragland’s roles came after months of mixed reports on what Meghan’s parents would do during the ceremony, especially her father. There was confusion earlier this month after a letter surfaced from Meghan Markle’s half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., asking Prince Harry to cancel the royal wedding. In the scathing note, he blamed Meghan for abandoning their father and claimed she didn’t invite him to the wedding. Given Kensington Palace’s latest announcement, we now know that’s not true.
Just last month, Thomas Sr. was seen in his current hometown of Rosarito, Mexico, reading a book titled, Images of Britain: A Pictorial Journey Through History in a local coffee shop. It was just another hint that he’s prepping to be at Windsor Castle on May 19. However, we now know this was one of the staged photos he was paid to pose for.
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After announcing their engagement in November, Meghan mentioned that Prince Harry still hadn’t met her father in person. “He’s talked to my dad a few times. He hasn’t been able to meet him just yet,” she said in her first interview with her fiancé. At the time of the engagement news, they had already been dating for over a year. However, Harry had met her mother, whom Meghan lived with after she and Thomas Markle divorced, a couple times.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.