Noth­ing’s go­ing to spoil our big day!

Af­ter she issues an ex­tra­or­di­nary state­ment in­sist­ing she’s al­ways cared for her fa­ther, Meghan (flash­ing that ring) heads for wed­ding re­hearsal with Harry

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Re­becca English Royal Cor­re­spon­dent

MEGHAN Markle yes­ter­day put on a brave face af­ter dra­mat­i­cally ad­mit­ting her fa­ther will not walk her down the aisle to­mor­row.

The royal bride- to- be was pic­tured smil­ing as she and Prince Harry were driven to their fi­nal wed­ding re­hearsal at St Ge­orge’s Chapel in Wind­sor.

Miss Markle’s ap­pear­ance – her first since the ex­tra­or­di­nary drama erupted over her fa­ther’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the cer­e­mony – came just hours af­ter an un­prece­dented state­ment in which she fi­nally con­firmed he would not be giv­ing her away.

The ac­tress also ap­peared to re­ject crit­i­cism by her sib­lings that she had failed to do enough to sup­port the reclu­sive Thomas Markle, say­ing she had ‘al­ways cared’ for him.

And she pleaded for her 73-year-old fa­ther, who is re­cov­er­ing from heart surgery in Mex­ico af­ter rev­e­la­tions about his al­leged col­lu­sion with a pa­parazzi pho­tog­ra­pher, to be given ‘space’. In the state­ment, which she is said to have writ­ten her­self, Miss Markle, 36, said: ‘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 on Satur­day.’

There was no con­fir­ma­tion from Kens­ing­ton Palace about who will walk Miss Markle down the aisle to­mor­row. That is ex­pected later to­day.

How­ever, her mother, Do­ria Ragland, who will ac­com­pany her to the chapel and who is due to meet the Queen to­day, is tipped for the role. Miss Markle’s fu­ture fa­ther-in-law, Prince Charles, and her clos­est male friend, Soho House di­rec­tor Markus An­der­son, have also been mooted.

Amid crit­i­cism from some in the ex­tended Markle fam­ily, sources close to Miss Markle yes­ter­day in­sisted that she and Harry, 33, had of­fered both her par­ents sub­stan­tial ‘sup­port and ad­vice’ as to how to han­dle the global in­ter­est est since they started dat­ing in 2016.

And friends told the Mail that con­trary to claims by her half-sib­lings, Sa­man­tha Markle and Thomas Markle Jnr, that she had left their in­tensely pri­vate fa­ther to deal with the pa­parazzi on his own, she had been in ‘fre­quent’ touch with him by phone and text, in­clud­ing in re­cent days.

It is un­der­stood Mr Markle told his daugh­ter per­son­ally that he would not be med­i­cally fit enough to fly to the UK. It was claimed yes­ter­day that he was re­cov­er­ing af­ter hav­ing three stents im­planted in ar­ter­ies fol­low­ing a heart at­tack at home in Mex­ico eight days ago, and that he had said it would ‘take a long time to heal’.

In re­turn, Miss Markle was said to have told him that she loved him and sup­ported him, re­gard­less of the pa­parazzi pho­to­graph de­ba­cle.

Kens­ing­ton Palace de­clined, how­ever, to con­firm when Miss Markle had last seen her fa­ther or when she planned to see him next. They were also un­able to say when Prince Harry would meet his new fa­ther-in-law. Although the cou­ple have been dat­ing for two years, the prince has only ever spo­ken to him by phone.

Yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment came at the end of a re­mark­able few days, in which Kens­ing­ton Palace was ac­cused of fail­ing to get a grip of the sit­u­a­tion, leav­ing Mr Markle to brief the US gos­sip web­site TMZ about his plans. Even Buck­ing­ham Palace courtiers have started look-

‘Look­ing for­ward to the next few days’

ing at the web­site for the lat­est up­dates. But as the fi­nal prepa­ra­tions were put into place yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Miss Markle and Harry ap­peared to be all smiles.

The cou­ple at­tended their last wed­ding re­hearsal at St Ge­orge’s Chapel in Wind­sor with the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge and their chil­dren, Prince Ge­orge and Princess Char­lotte, who are page boy and brides­maid.

Miss Markle looked ra­di­ant de­spite the strain of the past week, wear­ing a white £285 Boss body­suit and £7,000 Birks di­a­mond ear­rings.

Although the Queen arrived at Wind­sor Cas­tle for the week­end while the wed­ding party was there, she is un­der­stood not to have taken part. Friends said last night that de­spite the drama of the past few days, Miss Markle was ex­cited about the wed­ding and look­ing for­ward to ex­chang­ing vows with her prince. One ad­mit­ted that fam­i­lies could some­times be ‘messy’, but that she and Harry knew they had done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to sup­port her par­ents.

‘They are just look­ing for­ward to the next few days and happy and ex­cited about be­com­ing man and wife,’ the source said.

TMZ yes­ter­day said it had again been in touch with Mr Markle.

Jour­nal­ist Sean Man­dell said Miss Markle’s fa­ther had told him: ‘It will take a long time to heal. I’m okay. Stay­ing in the hos­pi­tal a few more days. Not al­lowed to get ex­cited.’ As for his daugh­ter, Mr Man­dell said it was clear she had been very up­set by events. ‘Meghan was em­bar­rassed and tear­ful in pri­vate,’ he said.

‘She is hold­ing up, from what I’ve been told. It has been a tear­ful and a try­ing time for her.’

When asked if her re­la­tion­ship with her fa­ther could re­cover from this week’s de­ba­cle, he said: ‘I do get the sense he does want to be re­united with Meghan.

‘She’s no stranger to hav­ing to deal with hard mo­ments in her life’. He told Good Morn­ing Bri­tain: ‘She [Meghan] called him Mon­day when the story first broke.

‘But he did not have his phone on him and then she texted him, say­ing she loved him, that she was con­cerned over his health and bore him no ill will over the con­tro­versy of the fake pho­tos.

‘He told us he wanted to be there and had a change of heart on Tues­day af­ter speak­ing with Meghan over text and he felt he had pulled out pre­ma­turely.

‘He had orig­i­nally felt it would be bet­ter for him not to be at the wed­ding be­cause it would cause fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment, he thought, for the Royal Fam­ily, and for Meghan, which is the last thing he wanted.

‘He re­alised, “I’m a fa­ther, and I want to be there for my daugh­ter, and I want to be part of his­tory”. Ul­ti­mately his health prevented him from be­ing able to do that.

‘Meghan is by all ac­counts a very strong woman.

‘From what Thomas has told me there’s just love be­ing con­veyed there and a gen­tle ap­proach be­tween them when they speak.’

One day to go: Miss Markle flaunts the en­gage­ment ring de­signed by Harry as the cou­ple are driven to their fi­nal wed­ding re­hearsal

What a sparkler: Miss Markle daz­zles in £7,000 Birks di­a­mond ear­rings, cir­cled Con­tin­ued from Page One This time to­mor­row... Meghan and Harry leave their Wind­sor re­hearsal

Sad­ness: Meghan’s ex­tra­or­di­nary state­ment yes­ter­day

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