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So if poor Mr Markle isn't going to give Meghan away, who will?

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 14/05/2018 Alex Green
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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

There will be nothing but sympathy for Thomas Markle today. Certainly that will be the main emotion as the shock of his reported decision to pull out of the royal wedding and not give his daughter away at Windsor on Saturday is absorbed.

Ever since Meghan's relationship with Prince Harry first emerged to near universal delight, her father has conducted himself with a quiet dignity; unfamiliar with the relentless spotlight of publicity, he has been content to largely remain in the background.

Other members of his family – his son and daughter by his first marriage for example – have seized the opportunity to speak of their younger half-sibling, often thoughtlessly and sometimes with cruelty. 

Tom Markle did none of these things. But then, as the finishing line at St George's Chapel where he was due to walk Meghan up the aisle was visible, he chose to enter into a reckless arrangement that appears to have had shattering consequences. 

a man and a woman posing for a picture: Thomas Markle (pictured with Meghan) has apparently pulled out of Saturday's wedding © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Thomas Markle (pictured with Meghan) has apparently pulled out of Saturday's wedding

At the weekend, it was reported that he had staged paparazzi photographs in exchange for money – though that was not his principal motive. He had, naively it must be said, hoped that choreographed pictures might rebalance the image the world had of him as some sort of bumbling semi-recluse.

Instead the outcome has been one of humiliation for him.

So it must have been with an unbearably heavy heart that he made his sudden and totally unexpected announcement. He is reported to have said that he cannot embarrass the Royal Family or his beloved daughter on her wedding day and that the solution is to stay away.

But his decision to do so will strike a chord with people everywhere. Weddings are so often fraught affairs, even royal ones. Days before she married Prince Charles, Lady Diana Spencer wanted to back out – only to be told by her sisters that it was too late because her face was already on the souvenir tea towels.

Papa, paparazzi: Thomas is seen on surveillance video entering an internet cafe with Jeff Rayner (above) to set up staged photos of himself looking at images of Prince Harry and his daughter © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Papa, paparazzi: Thomas is seen on surveillance video entering an internet cafe with Jeff Rayner (above) to set up staged photos of himself looking at images of Prince Harry and his daughter

Even so, Mr Markle's absence will cast an unfortunate and inevitably regrettable pall over this weekend's ceremony. Some will doubtless say that this sad outcome is of his own making.

But that would gratuitously misunderstand the intentions of a basically honourable man.

In fact, as tragic as it is for Meghan to be robbed of the reassuring presence of her father on Saturday, the overriding feeling is sorrow for the man himself.

For here is a man who suddenly found himself thrust into an alien world. An award-winning former Hollywood lighting director, but out of his depth when it came to handling publicity.

Prince Harry wearing a suit and tie walking on a sidewalk: Thomas, 73, said money was not a motivating factor and had instead hoped to recast his image in the wake of previously unflattering paparazzi pictures (Meghan and Prince Harry last month) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Thomas, 73, said money was not a motivating factor and had instead hoped to recast his image in the wake of previously unflattering paparazzi pictures (Meghan and Prince Harry last month)


He is not the first person to be seduced into a cosy arrangement with unscrupulous photographers. It is a well-practised gimmick among celebrities to have apparently spontaneous pictures taken in which they have conspired – and then shared the proceeds of the deception.

Quite why Mr Markle decided to enter into such an arrangement is impossible to know.

On TV yesterday his elder daughter Samantha – when not lamenting her own absence from the wedding (she hasn't been invited) – was suggesting that she had put her father up to it, to paint him in a positive light.

A noble enough sentiment, but in reality a doomed exercise that has left her father looking foolish, hurt and no longer participating on Saturday.

But that brings us to another vexed question. Who on earth is going to give Meghan away?

From the moment Prince Harry acknowledged that he was in a relationship with Tom Markle's beautiful daughter, the world has tuned in.

Her mixed-race background, her struggle to make it as an actress and her championing of the kind of causes Harry's late mother pioneered all caught our attention.

a group of people posing for the camera: Mr Markle said that he did not want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family (Meghan and her father circa 2000) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mr Markle said that he did not want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family (Meghan and her father circa 2000)


And with that, the focus inevitably fell on her family. A broken home and the striving of her parents to give her the best chance in life were compelling aspects of her story.

Maybe Mr Markle, living 'off grid' in a run-down neighbourhood of a Mexican border town, felt he could manage expectations by living low.

The demeaning contribution of his son Thomas Jr cannot have helped. In a letter to Prince Harry just a few weeks ago, he described his sister as a 'jaded, shallow, conceited woman' who would make a 'joke of the Royal Family.'

Yet with breath-taking nonchalance he followed that up a couple of days ago by writing that it was 'not too late' for him and other family members to receive an invitation to the wedding. Sitting in his small flat on the outskirts of Tijuana, Tom Markle senior cannot have failed to have taken this all on board.

a person sitting in front of a computer: Thomas Markle admitted to staging paparazzi photos (pictured) with an agency for money © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Thomas Markle admitted to staging paparazzi photos (pictured) with an agency for money


Tomorrow night he should have been settling into a room at Windsor Castle. A valet would have unpacked his bag, laundered his clothes and drawn his bath. He would have taken tea with the Queen and met his daughter's future father-in-law Prince Charles.

Instead, on the day he would have had the eyes of the world on him walking as proud as can be to give his daughter's hand in marriage in the majesty of St George's Chapel, he will be 5,000 miles away.

Unless he has a change of heart. Nothing would please Harry, the Royal Family or Meghan more than for him to be there. The world would like it too.

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