Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been keeping to themselves for a number of years since leaving the Royal Family. The beginning of their story – first as the two met and then, later, when they got married – was a true fairytale story, with Meghan seemingly being accepted early on by senior royals.
Yet at the same time as Harry and Meghan’s love grew, the former actress had some troublesome problems involving her father, Thomas Markle. The two ended their relationship after Thomas sold pictures to the British paparazzi press ahead of his daughter’s wedding.
Ultimately, Meghan chose not to invite her father to the ceremony – begging the question as to who would walk her down the aisle. As per reports, that’s when King Charles stepped up and offered to do the honors, only to be met with a surprising answer.
In November 2017, Harry and Meghan announced through the British Royal Family that they were engaged. Their subsequent wedding took place on May 19, 2018 – the service was held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Then, many thought it was the beginning – and continuation – of a new era for the Royal Family, with Harry and Meghan and William and Kate set to take The Firm forward.
Of course, we now know that didn’t happen. Today, three years later, Harry and Meghan remain alienated from the fold.
The relationship between the couple and the Royal Family was damaged, and as of today, there’s been nothing to suggests it’s returned to normal. Harry and Meghan were in attendance at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, but the rift between themselves and other royals is still very active.
When Harry and his wife sat down for their now-infamous Oprah Winfrey interview, it marked a new low in their relationship with the Royal Family, especially with regards to Harry’s father, King Charles, and brother, Prince William.
After Prince Philip’s funeral last year, Harry met with his brother and father for a meeting. He later said it felt like an “ambush.”
Just weeks before the Queen’s passing, Harry and Meghan paid a short visit to England on their way to the Invictus Games. Even though it’s been quite a while since the aforementioned rift started, King Charles is still said to have wanted to meet his son and his wife to clear the air.
According to the royal author Katie Nicholl’s latest book, The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown, Harry, and Meghan wanted a mediator at the meeting to ensure peace. Instead, it left Camilla, the Queen Consort, very upset.
“He actually suggested that they use a mediator to try and sort things out, which had Charles somewhat bemused and Camilla spluttering into her tea,” Nichols wrote, per The Mirror.
Meghan Markle – relationship with her father Thomas Markle
“She told Harry it was ridiculous and that they were a family and would sort it out between themselves.”
Now, though the current relationship between Harry and Meghan and the Royal Family is decidedly frosty, there was a time when it wasn’t. In fact, before her wedding to Harry in 2018, Charles asked Meghan who would walk her down the aisle, as her own father wasn’t there.
Naturally, it’s a sensitive question for many, but Charles wanted only the best for Meghan. He is said to have offered to walk her down the aisle at the St George’s Chapel – but Meghan’s reply was somewhat surprising.
In the build-up to the wedding, there was much speculation about whether Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle Sr, would walk her down the aisle.
But just days before the wedding, Meghan released a statement explaining that her father would not be in attendance. At the time, it was thought he had undergone heart surgery.
“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. I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you,” Meghan’s statement on her father read.
It seemed a very unfortunate reason as to why Meghan’s father couldn’t attend the wedding. However, underneath the surface, things had become tense between father and daughter.
Even though her parents divorced when she was only a few years old, Meghan’s father had always stood by her side, and their relationship was, by all accounts, a close one. That all changed in 2018, just months after Meghan’s engagement to Harry.
People worldwide congratulated the wonderful couple, including Meghan’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland.
“We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person”, the statement said.
“To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”
Before the wedding, the Markle family – Meghan included – had come under much press scrutiny. Then, just days before the ceremony, the Daily Mail revealed that Thomas had coordinated with a paparazzi photographer to stage several photos, including one where he was getting fitted for a suit before the wedding, one where he was seen reading a book about Britain, and another as he surveyed pictures of Meghan and Harry.
The pictures reportedly sold for over £100,000 ($137,000). Meghan was furious.
Thomas then initially lied to Meghan and Harry, saying that he hadn’t been involved in the staging of the photos. However, because of the event, he was too embarrassed to attend the wedding and apparently suffered from subsequent heart troubles. As a result, he missed his own daughter’s wedding.
Prince Harry and Meghan had reportedly told him explicitly not to speak to the media prior to their union, but Thomas didn’t listen.
As a result, when the wedding day arrived, it was speculated who would walk Meghan down the aisle.
Some thought that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, would be the one. However, her father-in-law, Charles, decided to act.
According to royal biographer Robert Hardman, Charles asked Meghan if she wanted him to escort Meghan to the aisle. In his book Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II, Hardman wrote that Charles got a quick answer, but it wasn’t what he expected.
In fact, Meghan surprised the now-King, asking him to meet her halfway down the aisle. She wanted to make her big entrance into the chapel on her own.
“Feeling for his future daughter-in-law, the Prince of Wales offered to step in, saying he would be honored to escort Meghan up the aisle of St George’s Chapel to the altar. The reply, according to one friend, was not quite what he was expecting: ‘Can we meet halfway?’” Hardman wrote.
“Here was an indicator that this was no blushing bride, but a confident, independent woman determined to make a grand entrance on her own.”
‘I’ll do whatever Meghan needs’
In 2018, in the BBC documentary Prince, Son, and Heir, Harry spoke about his father, Charles, offering to walk his wife down the aisle. Harry initially said he had asked his father about it, but Charles agreed straight away.
“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.
“For him, that’s a fantastic opportunity to step up and be that support, and you know, he’s our father, so of course, he’s going to be there for us.”
So what happened to Meghan and her father, Thomas, after the wedding? Well, it was just two months before things turned ugly.
Thomas Markle told the Daily Mail that he’d been cut out of his daughter’s life. He also said she looked “terrified” and referred to the British Royal Family as “a cult.”
“I tell you, I’ve just about reached my limit with Meghan and the Royal Family,” he said. “They want me to be silent, they want me to just go away. But I won’t be silenced.”
“I refuse to stay quiet. What riles me is Meghan’s sense of superiority. She’d be nothing without me. I made her the Duchess she is today. Everything that Meghan is, I made her.”
In August 2018, just months following the wedding, Meghan decided to send her father a five-page letter.
She reportedly begged him not to talk to the press. Then, not long after the letter was leaked, the Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, published parts of it, further angering Meghan.
She decided to sue the ANL because of the publication. Today, the case is still ongoing.
In court, Meghan Markle’s lawyers said that the publication of the “intrinsically private, personal and sensitive” letter was “unlawful” and “a triple-barrelled invasion of her privacy rights,” according to the Mirror.
The last line of the letter read: “I ask for nothing other than peace and I wish the same for you.”
“I would love to hear from my daughter”
Still, to this day, the relationship between Meghan and her father, Thomas, is terse. In an interview with The Cut, Meghan spoke about the importance of forgiveness – but that doesn’t apply to her father, which Thomas questions.
“If she really believes in forgiveness, then why can’t she forgive me?” Thomas told the Daily Mail in September.
“I have apologized to her multiple times for any hurt and pain I might have caused her. I love my daughter. She talks about forgiveness, so why not start with her own family? What about forgiving me?”
Thomas Markle added: “She knows where to find me. My number hasn’t changed. I would love to hear from my daughter and meet my son-in-law and my grandkids for the first time.”