WINDSOR (AFP/REUTERS) - The father of American actress Meghan Markle said on Tuesday (May 15) he does wish to attend his daughter’s wedding to Britain’s Prince Harry on Saturday.
Thomas Markle threw the wedding plans into confusion on Monday, telling Los Angeles-based celebrity news website TMZ that 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 suffered a heart attack a week ago.
Thomas Markle, who lives in Mexico, was quoted as telling TMZ on Tuesday that he hoped to travel to London for the May 19 wedding, if his health allows it. “I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle,” Markle was quoted as telling the website.
Kensington Palace earlier issued a brief statement saying: "This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding."
"She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation." .
Thomas Markle told TMZ he had agreed to pose for a paparazzi photo shoot in a bid to rehabilitate his image, rather than for money, but that he now regretted the move.
The pictures - in which he was being measured for a suit and admiring a photo of the future royal couple on his computer - sold for US$100,000 (S$159,000), according to British tabloid the Daily Mirror.
TMZ said he had suffered a heart attack last week due to stress and that he was continuing to suffer from chest pains.
Markle senior said he had not heard from his daughter since the revelations broke, and that her mother - his ex-wife Doria Ragland - would be a good choice to walk her down the aisle in his place, according to the website.
Meanwhile, Meghan Markle's half-sister Samantha Grant, who has criticised the bride-to-be's relationship with her father's side of the family, revealed her dad was feeling "quite depressed" and had indeed suffered a heart attack.
"I don't know as of today what his plans are, but there's a very real concern," she told Britain's ITV television.
Whether he attends the wedding will be based on "whether or not it's safe" for him to go, said Grant.
She said her father had "suffered at the hands of the media" who had presented him "in the most horrible ways".
Staging the photos was intended to counter the way he had been "so unfairly presented in the media as being sort of shabby".
'Circus' in town
Markle's gaffe-prone family has been sending royal courtiers into something of a spin by airing its dirty laundry in public.
Kensington Palace's attempts to project a sense of serenity around the wedding preparations have been clouded by Thomas Markle's relatives, who have not been invited to Saturday's nuptials following stories of bust-ups, heavy drinking and an arrest.
Half-brother Thomas Markle Junior accused his half-sister of shunning the family in an open letter last month.
In what The Daily Telegraph newspaper called "the circus" surrounding the wedding, Tom Junior's ex-wife Tracy Dooley - also not invited to the wedding - rolled into London with her two sons Tyler and Thomas.
"We're here! Yay!" she said, posting pictures of London landmarks, after they were spotted pushing luggage through Heathrow Airport, Tyler turning up in a vest.
The Dooleys are reportedly appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain as part of their royal wedding coverage.
US actress Markle grew up in Los Angeles and remains close with her parents, who divorced three decades ago.
Her 73-year-old father, is an Emmy-winning Hollywood lighting director who retired to Mexico, while her mother, 61, is a yoga instructor and clinical therapist.
In her late teens, Meghan Markle reportedly said she and her father were not "on the best of terms" but more recently has publicly expressed her love for him.
Not so awful
Ragland, who has reportedly already arrived in Britain, is expected to spend Friday night with her daughter in a plush hotel before travelling with her by car to Windsor Castle.
On Tuesday, Americans in Windsor ahead of the wedding were sympathetic to their compatriot.
"It's disappointing for her," said Jean Rice, 48, from Orlando.
"But things happen. I hope they're happy." Karen Yaney, 64, from Chicago, said she hoped Markle's father would attend.
"Staging those photos, that didn't seem so awful. I imagine she's on the phone with him trying to persuade him to come," she added.