Dad skip­ping wed­ding

Un­clear who will walk Markle down the aisle as fa­ther re­port­edly in hos­pi­tal

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - WORLD NEWS - GRE­GORY KATZ and MARTIN BENEDYK

WIND­SOR, Eng­land — End­ing days of spec­u­la­tion, Meghan Markle said Thurs­day that her fa­ther will not be able to at­tend her wed­ding to Prince Harry due to health prob­lems. The news came as Bri­tish mil­i­tary per­son­nel re­hearsed for a gala pro­ces­sion through Wind­sor that will fol­low Satur­day’s cer­e­mony, which will be tele­vised live around the world.

“Sadly, my fa­ther will not be at­tend­ing our wed­ding,” Markle said in a state­ment re­leased by Kens­ing­ton Palace. “I have al­ways cared for my fa­ther and hope he can be given the space he needs to fo­cus on his health.”

The palace has not re­vealed any de­tails about Thomas Markle’s health issues, but the celebrity web­site TMZ says the 73-year-old is hos­pi­tal­ized in Cal­i­for­nia af­ter un­der­go­ing a pro­ce­dure to clear blocked coro­nary ar­ter­ies.

He re­port­edly told the web­site he was OK af­ter three stents had been inserted, but needed to rest.

Thomas Markle had been sched­uled to walk his daugh­ter down the aisle when she weds her prince Satur­day in St. Ge­orge’s Chapel at Wind­sor Cas­tle.

It’s pos­si­ble that Do­ria Ragland, Markle’s mother, could fill that role in­stead. Markle may also choose to walk down the aisle by her­self.

Harry and Markle, who had re­mained out of the pub­lic eye in re­cent days, were spot­ted be­ing driven onto the grounds of Wind­sor Cas­tle on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Bri­tain’s Press As­so­ci­a­tion in­di­cated they are ex­pected to have tea with Queen El­iz­a­beth and may be joined by Ragland.

On the streets of Wind­sor, mil­i­tary per­son­nel re­hearsed their pro­ces­sion through the town, watched by thou­sands of en­thu­si­as­tic royal fans.

The wed­ding day fes­tiv­i­ties will in­clude a 25-minute car­riage ride out­side the grounds of Wind­sor Cas­tle by the new­ly­weds af­ter the cer­e­mony.

Thurs­day’s prac­tice ses­sion aimed to work out the pre­cise tim­ings of Satur­day’s pro­ces­sion. The Bri­tish pride them­selves on car­ry­ing off com­plex pa­rades with aplomb, and it would not do for the cou­ple to ar­rive at their wed­ding re­cep­tion even a few min­utes late.

“It’s very im­por­tant to have a dress re­hearsal, for ev­ery­one in­volved. It gives the guys a sense of tim­ings for the day, how fast they need to move, how slow they need to move. It also helps the horses them­selves, show­ing them the en­vi­ron­ment of where they are,” said Adam Black­moreHeale, a mem­ber of the House­hold Cav­alry.

A large mil­i­tary con­tin­gent is tak­ing part in the pro­ces­sion, re­flect­ing Harry’s years of mil­i­tary ser­vice, in­clud­ing tours in Afghanistan. Their pres­ence in the re­hearsal Thurs­day gave crowds and TV view­ers a taste of what the wed­ding pro­ces­sion will look like.

The church ser­vice will be con­ducted by the Rev. David Con­ner, the dean of Wind­sor. He said Thurs­day that Harry and Markle are deeply com­mit­ted to each other.

“They’re very se­ri­ous about their re­la­tion­ship and that’s why I think they par­tic­u­larly want to see it grounded in a reli­gious cer­e­mony, in a Chris­tian cer­e­mony,” he said.

Ragland — who arrived in Bri­tain car­ry­ing a Burberry suit bag, a pos­si­ble clue to her wed­ding out­fit — will meet with Harry’s fa­ther Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Harry’s brother Prince Wil­liam and his wife Kate, and other mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily that her daugh­ter will of­fi­cially join Satur­day.

Doubts about whether Markle’s fa­ther would come to the wed­ding sur­faced ear­lier in the week when TMZ re­ported he would not come be­cause he was em­bar­rassed by re­ports that he had staged pho­tos show­ing him be­ing mea­sured for his wed­ding suit. That story also in­cluded a re­port that he had suf­fered a re­cent heart at­tack.

The drama sur­round­ing Thomas Markle, and harsh com­ments about the bride made by es­tranged mem­bers of her ex­tended fam­ily who were not in­vited to the wed­ding, have in­creas­ingly dom­i­nated Bri­tish tabloid cov­er­age of the royal wed­ding.

Daily Mail colum­nist Sarah Vine on Thurs­day cas­ti­gated Harry’s Kens­ing­ton Palace press op­er­a­tion for not do­ing more to pre­vent Markle’s rel­a­tives from snip­ing at her.

“Even the most cur­sory in­ter­net search would have thrown up a few red flags,” she said. “Could they not have taken at least a few steps to get them on-side?”

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GETTY IMAGES

The As­cot Lan­dau car­riage makes its way along the Long Walk dur­ing a re­hearsal for the wed­ding pro­ces­sion out­side Wind­sor Cas­tle in Wind­sor, Eng­land, on Thurs­day.

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