No won­der Meghan HASN’T in­vited them

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 . . .

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - 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

his in­flu­ence to get Meghan an in­tern­ship at the U.S. Em­bassy in Ar­gentina af­ter she grad­u­ated), the 78-year-old, who lives in Florida, five time zones back from Lon­don, has also de­cided against set­ting his alarm.

What­ever we might think of Meghan’s de­ci­sion to ex­clude her fam­ily — be they blame­less or oth­er­wise — it means we can ex­pect a scene of stark dis­par­ity in the chapel to­mor­row.

The right-hand side, where the groom’s con­tin­gent tra­di­tion­ally sit, will be packed with Harry’s fam­ily mem­bers, close and dis­tant. The left, re­served for the bride’s guests, is likely to be filled with her high-flown new cir­cle of friends, such as ten­nis queen Ser­ena Wil­liams, Jes­sica Mul­roney, daugh­ter-in-law of the for­mer Cana­dian prime min­is­ter, and her co-stars in the TV drama Suits.

On which side of the chapel David and Vic­to­ria Beck­ham will be seated, we can’t be sure. For those un­ac­quainted with the Markle fam­ily’s che­quered his­tory, per­haps I should ex­plain how this ex­tra­or­di­nary state of af­fairs came about.

The Markles are di­vided by many long-stand­ing feuds, but the most bit­ter is be­tween Thomas Jnr and Sa­man­tha, who loathe one an­other with a vengeance.

The chil­dren of Meghan’s fa­ther’s first mar­riage, they were raised in Chicago — where Thomas Snr worked as a TV light­ing tech­ni­cian — but when they were very young, their par­ents di­vorced and they moved to live in the back­woods of New Mex­ico with their mother, Roslyn.

Thomas Snr, mean­while, de­camped to Hol­ly­wood, work­ing on the hit TV se­ries Mar­ried With Chil­dren and mar­ry­ing Meghan’s mother, Do­ria, 12 years his ju­nior, who was temp­ing at the stu­dio.

When Sa­man­tha was in her early teens, with vi­sions of forg­ing an act­ing ca­reer, she went to live with them, fol­lowed by Thomas Jnr.

As I learned when re­search­ing Meghan’s life story, how­ever, the ar­range­ment was a dis­as­ter from the out­set. By many ac­counts, Sa­man­tha was deeply jeal­ous of her baby half-sis­ter (though she stren­u­ously de­nies this), feel­ing that Meghan was claim­ing all her fa­ther’s at­ten­tion.

Mat­ters wors­ened as Meghan grew older and her act­ing ca­reer be­gan to blos­som — while Sa­man­tha’s foundered.

Ac­cord­ing to Roslyn, 71, Sa­man­tha is ‘not a nice per­son’ and also re­sented Do­ria, al­legedly telling friends her step­mother was ‘the maid be­cause she is black’.

SA­MAN­THA has since had an un­happy life. She was first mar­ried to a lawyer from Vir­ginia, but they split up and he took cus­tody of their two chil­dren.

Her sec­ond mar­riage was also a fail­ure, and her third child, daugh­ter Noel, 19, de­spises her.

She claims to have been a model and ac­tress, though, if we be­lieve her brother, she only ever had one or two bit-parts, cour­tesy of her fa­ther, and one mod­el­ling as­sign­ment, for a jeans com­mer­cial.

Thomas Jnr says she also worked as a shop as­sis­tant, be­fore join­ing the U.S. Air Force, but claims that she has sponged shame­lessly off her fa­ther, con­tribut­ing to his re­cent bank­ruptcy.

With a tell-all book about Meghan in the pipe­line, Sa­man­tha now calls her­self a writer and ‘men­tal health coun­sel­lor’. She was di­ag­nosed with MS in 2008. Thomas Jnr’s life has been no less dif­fi­cult. Af­ter work­ing as a lowly-paid Hol­ly­wood prop­shifter (again, thanks to his fa­ther’s con­nec­tions), he drifted from job to job, and woman to woman, be­fore mar­ry­ing Tracy.

Though they had two sons, Tyler and Thomas — or ‘TJ’, as he is known — he says the re­la­tion­ship was so fraught that they lived ‘as man and wife’ for only a few months. As Tracy is re­port­edly a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic, and he has long-stand­ing prob­lems with drink, this isn’t sur­pris­ing.

In fair­ness, Tracy has sprung to her ex-hus­band’s defence in re­cent months, not least when he was ar­rested for threat­en­ing Dar­lene with a gun. But TJ is less for­giv­ing, say­ing he feels hu­mil­i­ated by his fa­ther’s er­ratic be­hav­iour, and his out­bursts about Meghan, and that his fa­ther and aunt Sa­man­tha are both ‘crazy’.

Given the go­ings-on in re­cent days, we might think this some­thing of an un­der­state­ment — and you can bet your life there is plenty more em­bar­rass­ment to come from the mad­cap Markles.

Per­haps Meghan is won­der­ing whether she should have in­vited the whole sorry lot of them. Af­ter all, it might have been bet­ter to have these loose can­nons in­side the wed­ding hall, rather than tak­ing pot shots from out­side.

Pictures: MIRRORPIX / JOHN CHAP­PLE

Loose can­non: Meghan’s brother Thomas Ju­nior vis­its Wind­sor Cas­tle on the eve of the Royal Wed­ding Fam­ily at war: Meghan at 11 (far left) with her dad, Sa­man­tha and neph­ews Tyler and Thomas. Above: Thomas Jnr with baby Meg

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