Nowon­der Meghan HASN’T in­vit­edthem

The Mail’s DAVID JONES has spent months get­ting to know Meghan’s thor­oughly dys­func­tional, feud­ing fam­ily — led by her half-brother Thomas. His ver­dict ...

Daily Mail - - One Day To Go ... - By David Jones

Can it be only a year ago that Thomas Markle Ju­nior and I sat on the pa­tio of a river­side restau­rant in Ore­gon, bathed in spring sun­shine, as he con­fi­dently pre­dicted the guest list for his sis­ter’s wed­ding?

Over what was — for him — a mod­est liq­uid lunch, he reeled off the fam­ily mem­bers who would be in­vited to ‘share Meg’s joy’, as he quaintly put it, as­sum­ing (for they were yet to an­nounce their en­gage­ment) that she and Prince Harry would marry.

Her par­ents would, of course, be there, he told me, for both doted on Meghan, and his fa­ther, Thomas Se­nior, would be ‘the proud­est man in the church’ when he gave her away.

Un­doubt­edly, Meghan would also want her two adored neph­ews — his sons Tyler and Thomas — to en­joy the oc­ca­sion, along with her var­i­ous un­cles and aunts. and, nat­u­rally, he would re­ceive an RSVP from the Palace, for he had ‘al­ways sup­ported her, she knows that’, he said, re­call­ing how he had taken Meghan to feed the ducks and babysat for her when she was lit­tle.

Oh yes — and there was bound to be ‘a plu­sone for Dar­lene’, he added, glanc­ing at his 36-year-old fi­ancée, perched at his burly shoul­der and hang­ing on his ev­ery word.

‘I would love to meet the Royals. I’d buy the pret­ti­est dress,’ chirruped Dar­lene Blount, hav­ing, ap­par­ently, for­given Thomas for draw­ing a gun on her less than three months ear­lier, dur­ing one of their drunken, vi­o­lent quar­rels.

Fast for­ward 12 months and that two-hour con­ver­sa­tion — which I lis­tened to again yes­ter­day on tape — sounds ut­terly sur­real and, on re­flec­tion, rather sad. Events in the Royal Wed­ding drama are mov­ing faster even than Thomas Jnr does when some­one of­fers to buy a round of drinks at the Cedar­wood Sa­loon, his lo­cal bar in Grants Pass, Ore­gon.

How­ever, with 24 hours to go be­fore Meghan and Harry tie the knot, the state of play is as fol­lows: the bride’s fa­ther — shamed by the rev­e­la­tion that he col­luded with a pa­parazzi pho­tog­ra­pher — now lies in a Mex­i­can hos­pi­tal, re­cov­er­ing from a heart op­er­a­tion made nec­es­sary, he claims, by his son’s bad-mouthing of Meghan.

Mean­while, Thomas Jnr’s sons, Thomas, 27, who runs a Domino’s Pizza fran­chise with his hus­band, and brother Tyler, 25, a cannabis farmer (it’s le­gal to grow the drug in Ore­gon) have in­deed pitched up in Lon­don (with their glammed-up mother, Tracy Doo­ley, in tow).

Tyler plans to cash in on his as­so­ci­a­tion with Meghan by launch­ing a su­per-strong strain of cannabis called Markle’s Sparkle.

They are here to watch the wed­ding as ‘pun­dits’ in an ITV stu­dio. Or, at least, they were until yes­ter­day when, wisely, we might think, ex­ec­u­tives at Good Morn­ing Bri­tain re­port­edly de­cided to drop them.

AS FOR Meghan’s pa­ter­nal un­cles, Bishop Fred Markle and his brother Mick, a re­tired diplo­mat, these re­spectable sep­tu­a­ge­nar­i­ans will re­main in amer­ica, along with var­i­ous other snubbed rel­a­tives.

among them is Meghan’s ma­ter­nal un­cle Jof­fre, a graphic de­signer, who is ac­tu­ally two years younger than Meghan and is the prod­uct of her late ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther alvin’s sec­ond mar­riage, to a lady named ava Bur­rows.

as he and Meghan are a sim­i­lar age, and grew up in the same neigh­bour­hood of Los angeles, Jof­fre was gen­uinely close to her when they were chil­dren and re­sumed their friend­ship when she was an ac­tress in Hol­ly­wood.

Though he has shown ad­mirable dis­cre­tion dur­ing the pre-wed­ding hoopla, de­clin­ing many in­ter­view re­quests, he, too, has been over­looked, leav­ing his mother feel­ing un­der­stand­ably hurt.

‘I want ev­ery­thing to work out and wish them a great day,’ ava Bur­rows told me this week. ‘Even though I might not be happy about how it has been han­dled as far as my son is con­cerned.’

The re­tired teacher added: ‘That’s my boy who’s been left out and I’m a momma bear!’

So, fly­ing in the face of Meghan’s brother’s fan­ci­ful prediction last May, it seems — apart from her mother, Do­ria, who is ex­pected to walk her up the aisle to­mor­row — there will be no place in the chapel for any­one in the Markle fam­ily. The one thing Thomas Jnr got right when he con­tem­plated the likely guest list, how­ever, was that there would not be a pew for his sis­ter, Sa­man­tha.

It wasn’t dif­fi­cult to fore­cast her ab­sence, though, be­cause Sa­man­tha, 53, who suf­fers from mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and uses a wheelchair, had al­ready por­trayed Meghan as ‘nar­cis­sis­tic and self­ish’ and claimed her half- sis­ter had dis­owned her be­cause of her dis­abil­ity.

Since then, her rants — de­liv­ered by the U.S. celebrity news web­site TMZ, which has also be­come the cho­sen mouth­piece for Thomas Markle Snr — have grown more wound­ing and bizarre by the day.

Yes­ter­day, hit­ting back at Meghan’s re­ported pleas for her to stop snip­ing, she even in­voked the First amend­ment of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, say­ing an­grily: ‘She’s not go­ing to tell me that I can’t speak about my life. I’m not go­ing to take it. She’s way out of her league . . . there is some­thing in this coun­try called free­dom of speech. Meghan doesn’t have a copyright on that.’

What, then, of Thomas Jnr? Hav­ing writ­ten a poi­sonous ‘open let­ter’ to Harry just over a fort­night ago, brand­ing his sis­ter ‘ a jaded, shal­low, con­ceited woman’ who would ‘make a joke’ of the Prince and the Royal Fam­ily and urg­ing him to call off the ‘fake fairy­tale’ wed­ding, he ap­pears to have had a truly Da­m­a­scene con­ver­sion.

The 52-year-old job­bing glazier has been flown to Bri­tain by a red­top tabloid — no doubt, in re­turn for yet an­other fat pay cheque — and was yes­ter­day pho­tographed pos­ing be­side one of the Queen’s guards­men at Wind­sor Cas­tle, his bleary eyes filled with awe.

He now claims he hadn’t meant to hurt Meghan when he penned that cruel let­ter, pub­lished in a U.S. mag­a­zine, in­sist­ing he wrote it only be­cause he and his fam­ily had been un­der in­tense pres­sure since the wed­ding was an­nounced and he wanted to ‘shame the Palace’ into help­ing them.

au­da­ciously, in his fa­ther’s ab­sence, he is now try­ing to play the fam­ily’s el­der states­man.

‘The fact Dad’s not well enough to travel makes me want more than ever to be as sup­port­ive as I can to Meg,’ he drawled. ‘all I want is to see Meg happy and I hope she has found that with Harry.’

For­get­ting that he shared the fam­ily home with Meghan only briefly, when he was a teenager, and hasn’t spo­ken to his half­sis­ter for many years, he added: ‘Knowing her as well as I do, and de­spite her job, there will be no act­ing on Satur­day for sure. She’ll be un­able to hide her hap­pi­ness.’

Quite what Meghan must be feel­ing as she pre­pares for the big­gest day of her life, knowing her trou­ble­some brother and var­i­ous mem­bers of his clan lurk not a mil­lion miles from St Ge­orge’s Chapel, we can but imag­ine.

From the tran­quil­lity of her home in the Cal­i­for­nian desert — where I vis­ited her last year — ava Bur­rows summed up the car crash events of re­cent days with cus­tom­ary sagac­ity: ‘ Fam­ily dy­nam­ics can be try­ing un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances but, in this fam­ily, un­der these cir­cum­stances, they are just plain crazy.’

Weary of the hype, in­ci­den­tally, Mrs Bur­rows has de­cided against get­ting up at 3am, West Coast time, to watch the wed­ding.

In­deed, though she will record the tele­vised cov­er­age for her in­valid mother, who lives with her, she says she might never view it.

The same goes for Meghan’s Un­cle Mick, the re­tired diplo­mat.

Puz­zled and up­set at be­ing ig­nored (not least be­cause he used

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