World ‘My father’s not coming’
Meghan Markle broke her silence yesterday to speak of her sadness as she confirmed that her father would not be attending her wedding to Prince Harry today.
After four days of confusion over whether Thomas Markle Sr would walk her down the aisle she issued a statement that asked for him to be ‘‘given space’’ but also said that she was looking forward to her ‘‘special day’’.
The statement brought to an end the fevered speculation about Thomas Markle’s movements since he was said to have colluded with a photographer to stage fake paparazzi pictures.
Since then Markle, 73, who lives in Mexico, has supposedly undergone heart surgery, and changed his mind three times about whether he would attend the wedding at Windsor Castle.
Yesterday Meghan Markle, 36, took personal control of the situation when she said in a statement: ‘‘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 every- one 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.’’
Meghan Markle is known to have been upset by recent events, but sources have said that she is being supported by her mother and friends as she prepares for her big day. As one royal source said: ‘‘Saturday is going to be a glorious and happy day.’’
She is understood to have issued the statement in her own words to emphasise that the issue, which has been dissected at length in the media, was a deeply personal matter involving a father and daughter.
It comes after an extraordinary few days where the only information was coming out of a US celebrity website, TMZ, and Kensington Palace was refusing to say anything about what was happening, either in public or private.
The statement was followed hours later by the couple’s arrival at Windsor Castle for a wedding rehearsal.
In the absence of Thomas Markle, who was due to have walked his daughter down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, there has been strong speculation that his place will be taken by Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, 61. She was already due to perform an important role at the wedding by accompanying the bride to St George’s Chapel from the hotel where they are staying on the night before the wedding.
However, it is understood that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were ‘‘talking it through’’ and did not want to say immediately who would perform that vital role. It is not known whether Ragland was also in Windsor for the rehearsal.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are both said to have spoken to Thomas Markle on the phone regularly in the past few days. The bride-to-be has not wavered in her desire that she would like her father to walk her down the aisle. However, she has also been careful when talking to him not to put him under any further pressure. Instead of pleading for him to come, she has concentrated on asking him how he was and what has been happening.
‘‘Their focus has always been on providing support for him,’’ a source said. ‘‘She obviously cares about his welfare.’’
Meghan Markle decided to issue her statement only when the situation was definite and all uncertainty had been removed from her mind.
The media firestorm surrounding Thomas Markle in Mexico has prompted accusations, including from his daughter Samantha, that he has been left exposed by Kensington Palace.
Sources have said that the palace has provided advice and practical support on the ground to Thomas Markle, a former TV lighting director who declared himself bankrupt in 2016. However, it is not clear what form that practical support took.
One experienced royal reporter pointed out that Thomas Markle and Ragland, who has been photographed a number of times but without significant upset or embarrassment, would have been offered the same advice and support.
It has still not been confirmed whether Thomas Markle has had heart surgery. TMZ has quoted him saying that doctors were going to ‘‘clear blockage, repair damage and put a stent where it is needed.’’ There has been no independent corroboration, and Kensington Palace has refused to give any guidance. – The Times The Senate confirmed Gina Haspel yesterday as the first female director of the CIA following a difficult nomination process that reopened debate about brutal interrogation techniques in one of the darkest chapters in the spy agency’s history. The 54-45 vote split both parties, with six Democrats joining most Republicans in support. It was the closest vote for a CIA nominee in nearly seven decades, since the law was changed to require Senate confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., steered the confirmation swiftly past opponents, including Republican Senator John McCain, whose rejection of the nominee over her role in the CIA’s torture programme hung over an impassioned debate. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a surprise visit to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin yesterday at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The Kremlin quoted Assad as saying that Syria is making progress in fighting ‘‘terrorism,’’ which ‘‘opens the door to the political process.’’ Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Assad informed the Russian leader of his decision to ‘‘send a delegation to the UN’’ to discuss reforming the country’s constitution. The UN has hosted several rounds of peace talks in Geneva that have made no progress towards ending the conflict. Assad confirmed he will send a list of candidates as soon as possible to the United Nations, for membership in a committee that would discuss the constitution.
People spend the night outside Windsor Castle on Thursday. Preparations continue in Windsor ahead of the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are both said to have spoken to Thomas Markle on the phone regularly in the past few days.