When Meghan Markle‘s father, Thomas Markle, revealed last minute that he couldn’t attend the royal wedding, the future Duchess of Sussex confirmed the news in a brief yet cordial statement. “Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” her message began.
But her reaction behind the scenes was much more emotional. According to a new report from The Telegraph, the shocking news of Thomas Markle’s absence from the nuptials “reduced both Meghan and Harry to tears.”
A statement from Ms. Meghan Markle: pic.twitter.com/TjBNarmuBU
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 17, 2018
There was more to the drama than Thomas’ last-minute withdrawal from the ceremony. Days prior, he was caught staging his own paparazzi photos in an attempt to improve his image ahead of the royal wedding.
Following the scandal, Thomas announced he would not attend the nuptials to avoid embarrassing the royal family, but the next day, he changed his mind because he wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle. Then, shortly after, he announced he had to undergo heart surgery for severe chest pains and would not be able to recover in time for the wedding.
The back-and-forth drama, which unraveled just days before the wedding, “perhaps explains why the prince went to such great lengths to ensure his bride-to-be could have everything she wanted on her big day,” according to The Telegraph. A source told reporter Camilla Tominey that the Duke of Sussex is “understandably extremely protective” of the Duchess.
Ultimately, Prince Charles, who is said to be quite fond of his daughter-in-law, stepped in for Thomas and walked Meghan down the aisle. “I asked him to and I think he knew it was coming and he immediately said, ‘Yes, of course, I’ll do whatever Meghan needs and I’m here to support you,'” Harry recalled in a recent royal documentary.
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In an interview after the wedding, Thomas Markle said he was “honored” Prince Charles took his place, but he was sad to miss the event. “I was jealous, I wish I had been there, I wish it had been me,” he said. “But thank God he was there.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar US.