I sympathise with Mr Markle – but this hasn’t helped palace’s plea for privacy
‘A line has been crossed. Meghan has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment... Her mother having to struggle past photographers to get to her front door... the bombardment of nearly every loved one in her life... Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle’s safety... It is not right that she should be subjected to such a storm.’ PALACE PLEA TO THE PRESS IN 2016 STATEMENT
AS AN experienced royal observer, I have profound sympathy for Thomas Markle Snr, the reclusive father of Harry’s bride, Meghan. After all, he didn’t ask to be thrust into the media spotlight.
Throughout months of intense public interest, Mr Markle has wisely chosen to remain silent. He hasn’t yet met the royals. Rather, he has chosen to live in small-town Mexico, more than 5,000 miles away from St George’s Chapel.
It must be daunting to know that the world will be watching as he walks his daughter down the aisle. It is all the stranger, then, to learn that he has engaged in a sequence of staged photo stunts in the build-up to the wedding.
The resulting pictures, sold and syndicated around the world for large sums, appeared to give a candid and amusing insight into his preparations for his daughter’s big day. Some observers thought them too good to be true – and so it has proved.
Mail on Sunday enquiries have shown beyond doubt that, far from being snapped in the street by chance as he went about his business, Mr Markle had posed deliberately for a paparazzi agency – stunts that are best described as fake news. He even supplied his own props.
Was it a naive attempt to ‘manage’ the media interest in him? Did he do it in return for money? Either way, the enterprise has been a great mistake on Mr Markle’s part.
It is unquestionably a very difficult time for anyone who feels the full glare of publicity, and his friends say he has been stressed and distressed by it. I sympathise. But colluding with the paparazzi does not help his case, however sympathetic one is to an elderly man on his own, particularly as the most famous father of the bride who now has so much focus on him.
Mr Markle’s arrangement is the more troubling as the palace has gone out of its way to protect him, sending letters to newspaper editors in the past few weeks requesting in the strongest terms that he and his family be given privacy.
It was made clear that there would be no picture opportunities with Meghan’s father because he was a man who wanted to lead his life in peace. Now it seems that Mr Markle had another agenda – and one that will hardly fit with his future son-in-law Prince Harry, who is understandably sensitive about press intrusion.
It risks undermining Harry’s pleas for privacy. No one is suggesting this is a serious offence. I, better than most, understand how difficult the media landscape can be to negotiate. And I join with the watching world in wishing Harry, Meghan and her parents the most joyful of days on Saturday. But I know I am not the only one to hope that this unfortunate lapse of judgment from her father is most definitely his last.