How the Royal Family Is Dealing With Meghan Markle's Family Drama
By Antoinette Bueno
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How the Royal Family Is Handling the Thomas Markle Scandal
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Meghan Markle's pre-wedding drama with her father, Thomas Markle, has now dominated headlines leading up to the nuptials on Saturday, but how does the royal family feel?
On Tuesday, TMZ reported that Thomas has had a change of heart after initially telling the outlet on Monday that he would no longer be walking Meghan down the aisle as planned following his recent photo controversy -- in which the Daily Mail reported he was caught staging paparazzi photos of himself getting ready for the wedding -- because he doesn't want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family. TMZ reported that Thomas said he changed his mind after Meghan contacted him to say that she still loves him, and had no ill feelings toward him with regard to the paparazzi scandal.
However, according to the outlet, Thomas is still unsure he will make it to the May 19 wedding since he's back in the hospital due to serious chest pains after suffering a heart attack a week ago.
ET's Kevin Frazier spoke to Daily Mail editor-at-large Piers Morgan on Tuesday in London, who said the palace likely feels "let down" by the entire photo controversy.
"They have this big thing about you got to respect people's privacy and leave him alone and everything else and issue statements ... and suddenly we discover he's been invading his own privacy," Morgan tells ET. "That changes the narrative, so the palace will be feeling very let down. They'll be feeling cheated, frankly. They'll be forced into making erroneous statements to the media, make themselves look ridiculous, and they'll be feeling very concerned about Meghan. They know this is a big deal for her. We know the pressures on her and now she's got this huge, unfurling human drama to deal with."
ET also spoke to Morgan on Monday, when he said Prince Harry is likely "feeling enraged" due to the 33-year-old royal's personal history with the paparazzi. Prince Harry's mother, the late Princess Diana, died in a car crash in Paris, France, in 1997, with some blaming the paparazzi who were following her car at the time.
"The royal family will be appalled and horrified," Morgan tells ET. "Prince Harry will be really feeling enraged because he still believes his mother died at the hands of the paparazzi, that they chased her and hunted her to her death. The idea that the father of his own bride-to-be is colluding with the paparazzi that he hates, and potentially making money out of this wedding, will appall and anger Harry beyond belief."
Morgan said he doubts Queen Elizabeth II will say anything about the drama enfolding.
"I've been with the queen a few times and when she wants to express her disapproval, she doesn't really say very much," he notes. "She just looks at you. It's a look that could cut through butter from a thousand miles and you get the look of disapproval. I doubt she'll say very much. She's too dignified for that and to enter the decorum of royal work. What I would say is Harry will have to say something to him. Harry has been issuing warnings from Kensington Palace, 'Don't invade the privacy of my wife-to-be and of her family.' He's been doing this for months -- two years -- and now his own father-in-law?"
Meanwhile, ET also talked to royal expert Katie Nicholl on Tuesday, who said that she's been told that Meghan has been in "eleventh-hour talks" with her father.
"I was told by sources close to Meghan last night that she was utterly heartbroken, that she couldn't believe that this was happening just days before her wedding," Nicholl says. "That she is close to her father, they always had a special relationship, and that she feels that what he did in terms of staging those photographs were never meant with a cruel intention, it was actually meant to present himself in a more positive light. He didn't ever have any understanding or any suspicions that this could have backfired on him as badly as it has done."
As for the royal family's response, Nicholl said she hopes for some sort of announcement from Kensington Palace toward the end of the week, confirming whether or not Thomas will be a part of the ceremony.
"The problem with this and the reason for why these sort of stories go down so bad at the palace is because everything is now in final ink," she explains. "The orders of service have gone into press. I'm told they're literally drying at the moment. We don't like surprises like this. Royal weddings work like clockwork. They're planned down to the final minutia, so everything that's unsettled those plans will not go down well with Her Majesty, the boss over there at Buckingham Palace."
Nicholl mused that nobody is likely bringing up the scandal with the queen.
"I'm sure no one wants to upset the queen by mentioning the whole Thomas Markle debate, and who knows whether she has been updated with the latest," she says.
As of now, Nicholl said no changes have been made to the order of service.
"I think it would be a bit of a giveaway had they reprinted or changed the order to reflect the fact perhaps Thomas Markle wasn't coming," she explains.
"If Thomas Markle doesn't come over to the U.K. then we're in slightly uncharted territory," she also notes. "There is no royal protocol to say that [Meghan's mother] Doria shouldn't walk Meghan down the aisle. She is going to be in that bridal car making that final journey for Meghan as a single woman. There's no reason why she shouldn't get out of the car and walk Megan down the aisle."