Plans for the royal wedding are in disarray as Meghan Markle’s dad is reportedly heading back to hospital after suffering new chest pains following a heart attack six days ago.
Former Hollywood lighting director Thomas Markle told US celebrity website TMZ “I’m popping Valium” in the lead-up to his famous daughter’s big day and “doesn’t want to embarrass” the royals or Meghan.
In a further blow, Prince Philip might also be a late withdrawal from his grandson Prince Harry’s vows as he is still recovering from an April 4 hip operation.
But Meghan’s priority is said to be her father’s physical and emotional health. She “is understood to be distressed and deeply worried” about him, The Telegraph reported.
The former actress, 36, is being supported by Harry as she deals with the potential reality of not having her father by her side on her big day.
Kensington Palace did not confirm Mr Markle would be a no-show but issued a statement asking for understanding:
Statement from Kensington Palace: pic.twitter.com/1EnUg7H8uC
— Royal Circular (@Royal_Circular) May 14, 2018
Flinders University associate professor Giselle Bastin told The New Daily the royal family would have seen this week’s raft of publicity as “unfortunate” but they were old hands at scandal.
“We’ve seen other royals being caught out cashing in on their royal connection,” royals scholar Dr Bastin said.
“The Duchess of Cambridge has her famous uncle Gary, Prince Andrew has been caught in awkward situations and Sarah Ferguson was famously caught on camera selling his availability. There’s been various other sting operations.”
Accordingly, other than its statement, the palace ignored the scandal but posted a Twitter photo montage of how the Windsor Castle chefs are preparing vegetables and desserts ahead of the big day:
We dropped in on the Kitchens at Windsor Castle, who will shortly begin final preparations for the #RoyalWedding.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 14, 2018
Having chocolates ready is one thing, but the wedding still has a potential major role to fill just days out: who will hand the bride off to her groom?
Mr Markle told TMZ he checked out of hospital last week after having a heart attack and had been planning to fly to London from his home in Mexico to walk his daughter down the aisle at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
But on Monday night he said further chest pains made him reassess. The Mirror reported Mr Markle fears having another heart attack “due to the emotional distress from the fallout over his deal with a paparazzi agency”.
Speculation is that Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, who will ride to St George’s Chapel in a car with the bride, will take on the job. Prince Charles has also been mentioned as a candidate.
Royal watchers had other ideas:
Here's a thought. Maybe, #Meghan and @KensingtonRoyal should take this situation as a sign that she needs to forego the custom of anyone walking her down the aisle and walk proudly by herself. After all, she is not anyone's property. No one has to "give her away."
— Deesa Roberts (@DeesaRoberts) May 14, 2018
Mr Markle’s health scare came amid revelations he was caught staging a series of photographs with a British photographer.
Kensington Palace had previously insisted Mr Markle had no interest in participating in media opportunities.
Responsibility for the controversial photo shoot was taken by Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Grant, who is estranged from the former Suits actress.
“The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault,” she wrote on Twitter.
She admitted she suggested Mr Markle pose for “positive” photographs “for the benefit of the Royal family”.
Social media lit up with support for Meghan:
This has gone from embarrassing to completely absurd. No wonder Meghan is completely estranged from these people. None of this is worth a moment of her time
— Melody (@melz1rose) May 14, 2018
My heart breaks for #MeghanMarkle. This should be an exciting, happy time for her. She tried to be kind and involve her father (in spite of @SammyMarkle64, et. al behaving like pure trash) and that decision backfired. I hope the #RoyalWedding is flawless. She deserves that.
— Shantel (@FashionandFaith) May 14, 2018
Meanwhile, the palace is yet to confirm whether Prince Philip, 96, will attend the wedding.
A spokesperson said the royal family “very much hope” the duke will be there and will give confirmation closer to the day.
It has been reported Harry wanted a short engagement to make sure both his grandparents were in good health for his wedding.
Royals expert Marlene Koenig told The Express, “if Philip is confined to his room, I would expect he would watch the ceremony on TV – and, I would think, after the wedding, Harry would bring his new wife to see his grandfather and perhaps enjoy a piece of elderflower and lemon cake together.”