This is Meghan’s Biggest Royal Wedding Nightmare

Her father backed out, saying he won't be walking her down the aisle after all.

This is Meghan’s Biggest Royal Wedding Nightmare

Her father backed out, saying he won't be walking her down the aisle after all.

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With less than a week until Meghan Markle weds Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, it’s understandable that she’d be suffering from pre-wedding jitters, but the source of her anxiety is worrying royal watchers who have commended the former actress for adapting so quickly to royal life.

Today’s news that her father, Thomas Markle, has backed out of the wedding amid reports he secretly cooperated with Los Angeles photographer Jeff Rayner, is deeply upsetting news the to the bride-to-be.

Kensington Palace issued this statement about the situation: “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.”

TMZ is reporting Thomas Markle told them he suffered a heart attack six days ago, but checked himself out of the hospital so he could attend the wedding. According to the website, he’s now decided not to go because he doesn’t want to embarrass the royal family or his daughter. He also said admits the staged photos look “stupid and hammy.”

Markle told the site he was just going along with the paparazzi agency, which he now deeply regrets. He is now planning to stay away from the wedding.

The constant stream of embarrassing stories involving her half-siblings, sister Samantha Grant (who has recently changed her name back to Markle and dyed her blonde hair dark like her sister’s), and Thomas Markle, Jr. have been bad enough. But the news about her father, Thomas Markle cooperating with a paparazzi photographer and now dropping out of the wedding five days before the ceremony has Meghan extremely stressed over how this will affect her relationship with the royal family.

“Meghan hasn’t put a foot wrong since her engagement to Harry,” one insider told me. “She has worked hard to gain the trust and respect of the Queen and the royal family, and this is hugely embarrassing and upsetting for her.”

Thomas Markle worked with Rayner to stage what were supposed to be “candid shots” of the father of the royal bride-to-be sitting at an Internet café in Rosarito, Mexico, reading stories about his daughter and Prince Harry. In another, he was photographed sitting at a Starbucks reading a travel book on Britain. A third image supposedly shows him having his measurements taken for what looks to be a suit. Witnesses have been quoted saying the bride-to-be’s father and the photographer showed up at the various locations together, took the photos and then quickly departed together.

Rayner reportedly got $135,000 for the faked photographs. It is unclear if Thomas Markle profited from the staged shots.

I reported earlier this spring that Prince William would be walking Meghan down the aisle and it looks like he may step in to save the day after all. “That would be the best solution,” said my source.

The hugely embarrassing story about the fake photos broke right after the Palace issued a statement asking the press to leave Meghan’s father alone. The fallout is only making things worse for Meghan. “This is humiliating, especially since Mr. Markle was due to meet the prince and the entire royal family in the coming days,” said my source. ”

“The Palace has gone out of its way to be as supportive and protective of Meghan and her family. But they will not look kindly on being made to look so foolish.”

Thomas Markle was scheduled to arrive in Britain this week and was to meet Harry, along with the rest of the royal family, for the first time in the days before the wedding. There had been a great deal of speculation about whether the reclusive former Hollywood lighting director would attend his daughter’s wedding at all. Early reports indicated Meghan originally wanted her mother, Doria Ragland, to walk her down the aisle.

“After all the negative stories from her half-sister and brother, everyone thought it was important to have both Meghan’s parents there to show a united front, ” said my source. “It was decided after a great deal of negotiating that Meghan’s father would come to the wedding and walk his daughter down the aisle. He had some misgivings about being able to cope with all the worldwide attention and now, it would seem, the whole thing blew up.”

“This really proves that Meghan has done the right thing distancing herself from her family,” said my source. “Once she is married and officially part of the royal family, it’s likely she won’t be seeing any of her relatives except for her mother ever again.” And to actually see the whole thing go down, well, Here’s How You Can Live Stream the Royal Wedding For Free.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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