Meghan Markle's father says heart procedure puts him out of British royal wedding

PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - The father of American actress Meghan Markle said on Tuesday he could not attend his daughter's wedding to Britain's Prince Harry on Saturday because he needed a heart procedure.

Thomas Markle, who lives in Mexico, was quoted as telling Los Angeles-based celebrity website TMZ.com that he was scheduled to undergo a heart repair and blockage clearance procedure early on Wednesday morning.

Markle, 73, was due to walk his daughter down the aisle in front of 600 guests including all the senior British royals and a smattering of celebrities.

Markle threw the wedding plans into confusion earlier this week when he said he would not attend the May 19 nuptials because he did not want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family after reports he had staged pictures with a paparazzi photographer for a fee. He also said he had been hospitalised after suffering a heart attack a week ago.

Harry, 33, Queen Elizabeth's grandson and the sixth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, will marry on Saturday at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

On Tuesday, Markle told TMZ that he hated "the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle."

But he later said doctors had scheduled surgery on Wednesday morning. "They (doctors) will go in and clear blockage, repair damage and put a stent where it is needed," Markle told the website.

Kensington Palace, Harry's office, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

But in a statement issued on Monday it said called Thomas Markle's comments "a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle."

"She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation," Kensington Palace said.

Britain's Prince Harry to marry Meghan Markle

  • Britain's Prince Harry is to marry his US actress girlfriend Meghan Markle early next year it was announced Monday, with the Queen leading a chorus of approval and best wishes for the couple who got engaged in secret earlier this month.
  • "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018," Clarence House, Prince Charles's office, said a statement.
  • The couple's engagement was sealed in London and the prince then informed his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, close members of the royal family and had also sought the blessing of Markle's parents.
  • "The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness," said a message on the monarch's official Twitter page.
  • The couple will live at Nottingham Cottage in London's Kensington Palace, where his brother William and his pregnant wife Kate live with their two children.
  • Harry's 36-year-old bride-to-be is best known for her role as a lawyer in the hit television show "Suits".
  • Reports that Markle, who is expected to become a duchess, was moving her two dogs -- Guy and Bogart -- to London further fuelled rumours of the first royal wedding since William and Kate in 2011.
  • The actress's parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland said in a statement they were "incredibly happy" and wished the couple "a lifetime of happiness."
  • "Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person," they said. "To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents."
  • Prince Harry revealed Monday that he proposed to US actress Meghan Markle over roast chicken, and said she would be "unbelievably good" at her new royal role despite its pressures.
  • The couple said they were enjoying "a cosy night" at home in his cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace earlier this month - "trying to roast a chicken" - when he got down on one knee.
  • "She didn't even let me finish, she said, 'can I say yes? can I say yes?' and then there were hugs," Harry said in the couple's first interview since the announcement of their engagement earlier Monday.
  • They revealed they knew little about each other when they were set up on a "blind date" by a mutual friend.
  • Harry said he had never heard of Markle, while the actress added she was largely ignorant about the British royal family and just asked of their friend, "is he nice?" The date went so well they immediately met up again before going camping together for five days in Botswana just a few weeks later.
  • "Then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other," Prince Harry said.
  • They spent the first few months after that staying in, cooking dinner and watching television to avoid any public attention.
  • Bookmakers have already started taking wedding related bets, with Westminster Abbey a firm favourite to host the event and fashion label Alexander McQueen favourite to design the dress.

The bride-to-be's parents are divorced and while Harry has been pictured with her mother Doria Ragland, 61, there had been speculation about how Thomas Markle, a former lighting director for TV soaps and sitcoms, would feature.

However, Harry's communications secretary told reporters last week he would have an important role and would give away his daughter on the couple's big day. He had also been expected to meet the queen, her husband and the other senior members of the Windsor family this week.

Thousands of journalists from across the world are descending on the genteel town of Windsor for the wedding, and Thomas Markle told TMZ earlier this week that the media attention had taken its toll. He said he had been offered up to $100,000 for interviews and been ambushed by paparazzi whose snaps had shown him buying beer and looking dishevelled.

TMZ said he had agreed to the staged pictures, which showed him looking at images of the couple on a computer and being sized up for a suit, because he hoped they would improve his image.

Prince Harry and his elder brother Prince William have both made clear in the past their dislike of the press, fuelled by the death of their mother Princess Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997 as her limousine sped away from chasing paparazzi.

Kensington Palace has limited press access to the ceremony itself and strictly controlled the release of details about the wedding to the media.

If her father does not come, British newspapers suggested that Markle's mother, with whom she is spending the night before the ceremony at a nearby luxury hotel, would walk her daughter down the aisle.

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