Weddings tend to come with a steaming hot side dish of family drama, and Harry and Meghan’s appears to be no exception. Herewith, a timeline of Thomas Will-He-Or-Won’t-He Markle’s status as guest—starting with latest, and likely, final word.
On May 17, Meghan Markle confirmed her father would not be at the wedding
In a statement via Kensington Palace, Meghan wrote: “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 need to focus on his health.” She doesn’t directly reference it, but the statement basically confirms TMZ’s big story from May 15: that Thomas Markle was undergoing a heart procedure in Mexico. According to the entertainment news outlet—who seem to have a direct line to Markle Sr.—he is staying in hospital for the next few days but is “alert and coherent.” This leaves the field wide open for who might walk Meghan down the aisle. Her mom Doria has already landed in London and seems the obvious choice, although Prince Charles (weird) or even Prince William (also weird) have been speculated. Crazy thought: Maybe Meghan could just take her own 36-year-old self down the aisle?
A statement from Ms. Meghan Markle: pic.twitter.com/TjBNarmuBU
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 17, 2018
On May 15, Thomas Markle said he wanted to attend the wedding, but then later said he couldn’t
On May 15, TMZ reported that Thomas *won’t* be attending his daughter’s wedding to Prince Harry—despite saying hours earlier that he was going to hit up the nuptials. Talking to TMZ, Thomas said he can’t make it to England anymore because he’s having heart surgery on May 16 and isn’t clear to fly.
The news comes legit hours after TMZ reported that 73-year-old Thomas wanted to attend his daughter’s wedding. “I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle,” he told TMZ on May 15 from the hospital where he was being treated for chest pains after suffering a heart attack last week. At the time, he told the outlet that if his doctors will allow it, he’d like to fly out in time to walk his daughter down the aisle.
“Of course I’d walk her down the aisle. This is a historic moment. I’d like to be a part of history,” he told the news outlet. And also your daughter’s wedding, right? We’re sure that’s what he meant.
On May 14, Thomas Markle said he *wouldn’t* be attending the wedding—and Kensington released a statement to the same effect
To add to the confusion, prior to Thomas saying he wanted to walk Meghan down the aisle, on May 14 TMZ reported that he would no longer be attending Meghan’s wedding “because of the fallout over selling photos of himself” to the paparazzi, days after it was revealed that *those* adorable pap pics of Thomas “preparing” for the royal wedding were actually completely staged. (On the same day, May 14, Kensington Palace released a statement noting that Thomas would no longer be attending the wedding.)
On May 12, Thomas Markle was accused of staging photos
On May 12, the Daily Mail released footage of Meghan’s father with professional photographer Jeff Rayner at the Omega internet cafe in Rosarito, Mexico. The cafe is the same place where Thomas was photographed, paparazzi-style, looking at online images of his daughter and her royal beau on a public computer. Jessica Anaya, the manager of the cafe, confirmed to the Daily Mail that the Thomas was collaborating with the photographer to set up the shots.
And that wasn’t the only staged pic. In another faux paparazzi shot, taken in early May, Meghan’s father was snapped as he was being measured for what many assumed was a suit for the royal event. The teen who measured him—17-year-old David Floreshas—revealed that Thomas gave him $15 to help as Rayner snapped photos.
But here’s the one that really broke our heart: In April, Thomas was snapped looking at a picture book, Images of Great Britain: A Pictorial Tour Through History, at his local Starbucks. The barista who prepared his drink—19-year-old Carlos Ortiz—confirmed that Thomas and Rayner arrived at the cafe together.
And Thomas and Rayner weren’t the only ones involved with setting up the pics. Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle has since claimed responsibility too. “I have to say I am entirely the culprit. I said, ‘You have to show the world you’re getting in shape.’ It was my suggestion. I don’t believe he was paid and if he was it was a pittance. I can understand it’s awkward for Kensington Palace,” Samantha said during an interview with British television show Loose Women.
Daily Mail reported that the photos collectively made more than $170,000, although Meghan’s half-sister maintains that her father did not do it for the money. According to Us Weekly writer Omid Scobie, Samantha took to her protected Twitter account to explain that she came up with the idea because the media was “unfairly making [Thomas] look bad.” This was confirmed to TMZ by Thomas himself.
“The bad press over my father… is my fault. The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family. We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money” – Samantha Markle
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) May 14, 2018
Kensington Palace had previously confirmed that Thomas would be attending the royal wedding, but on May 14, a spokesperson revealed that is no longer the case. “This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding,” the Palace spokesperson said. “She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”
Behold: The Most Unlikely, and Endearing, Star of the Royal Wedding
Wait, There’s No Maid of Honour?! + Every Other Detail We Know About the Royal Wedding Thus Far
Meghan Markle’s Toronto: Insiders Share All Her Favourite Spots