By Nick Miller
Meghan Markle’s father won’t attend her wedding, she has officially confirmed.
In a statement issued by Meghan herself via Kensington Palace, she said she was sad he couldn’t be there on the day.
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“I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” she said.
Thomas Markle is in hospital after serious heart surgery and won’t be discharged in time to get to Windsor, according to gossip website TMZ.
Mr Markle had a heart attack a little more than a week ago, and doctors had to operate to clear out plaque and insert three stents. Doctors told him to avoid getting excited, TMZ said.
The site reported that Mr Markle blames his heart attack on an angry letter that his son wrote to Prince Harry telling him to call off the wedding.
Mr Markle, who led a quiet life in retirement in Mexico, has been hounded by reporters and paparazzi ever since the engagement was announced. He recently arranged with one photographer to take photos of himself preparing for the wedding, but the pictures were later exposed as staged, adding to both the interest in and criticism of him.
Meghan was reported to have been upset by both her father’s actions and the media pursuit of him, but still wanted him to be there on the day.
“I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support,” Meghan said. “Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.”
The statement did not say who — if anyone — will take Thomas Markle’s place walking her down the aisle at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel on Saturday.
Many are predicting it will be Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.
The full statement released by Kensington Palace.
Meghan’s statement on Thursday was also a subtle rebuke to her extended family, including her half-sister Samantha who has repeatedly criticised Meghan for neglecting their father.
Samantha previously commented on the Ralph & Russo gown that Meghan wore for her engagement photo shoot, saying “if you can spend $75,000 on a dress you can spend $75,000 on your dad”.
And in a TV interview she said “what she could spend in a weekend would greatly help Dad, so that should be a priority… you need to step up to the plate and make sure he is well taken care of”.
The Sun newspaper reported that Samantha — who herself has MS — twice had to wire her father cash.
“He’s badly in need of help, I’m dreadfully worried about him, he’s completely on his own,” she said.
She said there was “no actual contact from Meghan” with her father, though according to other reports they had been in contact by text.
Samantha was reported to have gone to hospital herself this week after breaking her ankle and fracturing her knee in a car crash that her boyfriend blamed on the dangerous driving of a paparazzi photographer.
Meghan’s half-brother had also weighed in on the wedding, writing in April (when he thought their father hadn’t been invited) “she forgets if it wasn’t for my father she would be busing tables and baby sitting to pay her old debt off”.
Markle snr played a big role in launching Meghan’s acting career, according to biographer Andrew Morton, giving her the benefit of his experience as lighting director on big US TV series and supporting her school drama productions.