Meghan Markle confirmed Thursday that her father will not be present to walk her down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry, in a late announcement hinting at disarray behind Britain’s meticulously planned royal wedding.
“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,” she said in a statement issued through Kensington Palace, Harry’s official residence.
Thomas Markle, 73, underwent heart surgery on Wednesday following a paparazzi scandal and a series of U-turns over his intention to attend.
The pre-ceremony fiasco would be enough to derail most weddings, but on Thursday preparations in Windsor, west of London, ploughed ahead with a military dress rehearsal, fine-tuning arrangements ahead of the big day.
The practice session saw military marches and a dry-run of the carriage procession, which will whisk Harry and his bride around the town to greet the crowds after their wedding at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Some 250 members of the armed forces are due to take part in Saturday’s festivities, and diehard royalists are already camping out to secure the best viewing spots along the carriage route.
Until now, Kensington Palace has tightly planned and closely controlled the drip-fed revelations about details of the wedding day.
But as news of the so-called “Markle debacle” broke, British newspapers blasted Harry’s household.
The Sun tabloid ran a front page saying Thomas Markle was “alone, ill and afraid”, citing sources saying Kensington Palace had neglected to support him in the run-up to the wedding.
The Mirror also reported disarray, saying: “According to royal sources, ‘hardly anyone has met Meghan’, Harry is attempting to organise everything ‘by himself’ and the bride’s dad, who is not attending the wedding, has been left unprepared for the fanfare.”
“Instead of an expertly planned and repeatedly rehearsed event, Kensington Palace appears to be winging it.”