ROYAL WEDDING: Meghan’s dad ’popping Valium'
THE father of Meghan Markle claims he has not spoken to his daughter since pulling out of the royal wedding and is "popping Valium" as a result of the emotional upset.
Thomas Markle told TMZ he had not spoken to Meghan since he stunned the world with his revelation that he would not walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday.
The 73-year-old said he believed Meghan's mother Doria Ragland was the best person to walk their daughter down the aisle at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Mr Markle told TMZ he was upset over the drama being caused by his eldest daughter Samantha Grant, who has been openly critical of Meghan Markle in the media.
"I've been popping Valium for the pain, especially when I hear about my oldest daughter," he said.
Mr Markle also told the website he felt like he needed to go to hospital again because he was worried he was suffering another heart attack. He said he had been treated at the General Hospital in Mexico six days ago.
Thomas Markle dropped his bombsehll with just five days to go before the royal wedding.
In an announcement that appears to have come as a complete surprise to Kensington Palace, Mr Markle told American media that he would not attend the wedding at Windsor Castle on Saturday because he didn't want to embarrass his daughter any further.
His comments to celebrity website TMZ come 48 hours after the British press revealed Mr Markle, 73, had collaborated with the paparazzi, arranging for them to take supposedly candid photographs of him preparing for the wedding.
TMZ said Mr Markle had told them he regretted his decision to collaborate with the photographer, and did not want to cause further embarrassment to his daughter and to the royal family.
The last-minute decision to pull out was partly because of the fallout of reports that he staged paparazzi photos of himself, according to TMZ, and he also claims he suffered a heart attack six days ago.
British media reports Meghan is "distraught" and is pleading with her father to walk her down the aisle as planned, with a friend of the bride-to-be adding that Prince Harry was blaming himself.
"This is not what she wants. She obviously wants her dad there," a friend of Meghan's said.
"(Harry) is devastated. He feels like this is another thing in the wake of him... the problems he causes. He feels that anyone who gets associated with his life - this is the price they have to pay."
Kensington Palace issued a statement this morning 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."
British media reports her mother, Doria Ragland, is now the leading candidate to walk her daughter down the aisle.
The palace had announced last week that Mr Markle and his ex-wife would play important roles in the wedding.
Both parents were also expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals in the days before the wedding.
Thomas, who retired to Rosarito, Mexico, was supposed to be flying to London this week to meet the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Wills and Kate at a lunch ahead of the ceremony.
But Mr Markle reportedly had a change of heart after the paparazzi scandal broke, telling TMZ that the "staged" pictures looked "stupid and hammy" but said that he "meant no harm", insisting he was trying to amend his image after being ambushed by paparazzi in unflattering circumstances.
Mr Markle has admitted to colluding with agency Coleman Rayner for the staged pictures.
"Thomas says the paparazzi agency approached him, offered him money - though nowhere near the reported $100k - and he figured there was no harm in it and it would help recast his image," TMZ reports.
The pictures show a lonely Mr Markle browsing images of his daughter and Prince Harry in an internet cafe, lifting weights to get in shape for the wedding, and being fitted for a suit for the big day.
Mr Markle reportedly added that since his daughter started dating Prince Harry he had been offered between $50,000 and $100,000 for interviews but he'd turned all of them down.
Earlier today, the estranged controversial half-sister of Meghan Markle took responsibility for the "staged" paparazzi photos of her father.
In a tweet, Samantha Markle - who attracted headlines in the past when she announced she was planning a tell-all book called The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister - claimed it was her idea for her father to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shoots, in order to paint him in a "positive" light ahead of the ceremony.
She is not on the wedding guest list.
"The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault," she tweeted.
"The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family."
In addition to the photo scandal, Mr Markle also claimed he suffered a heart attack six days ago but checked himself out of the hospital so he could attend the wedding.
But he reportedly decided not to attend the May 19 nuptials because he "doesn't want to embarrass the Royal Family or his daughter".
Meanwhile, Meghan's extended family who weren't invited to the wedding have been pictured landing in London.
Meghan's nephew Tyler, his brother Thomas Dooley, and their mother Tracy - the wife of Meghan's estranged half brother Thomas Markle Jr - were sighted at Heathrow Airport.
They all are set to be 'special correspondents' on Good Morning Britain.
Dooley, 25, yesterday said his granddad had suggested only on Sunday that he would be at the wedding.
He said: "My grandfather is in pieces - he is broken. He is not doing well.
"He is a very reclusive guy - he has been in the spotlight his entire life behind the cameras and now he has been thrusted into all this with the Royals.
"It is overwhelming. My grandfather just wants to be left alone - he wants the peace and the quiet back.
"He said he's had some serious complications because of the stress, anxiety and pressure. I was also told that he had a heart attack. He had a pretty big health scare.
"He told me that he loves me very much and he's sorry about everything that's happening.
"He said plans to get the care and the help he needs after the wedding - which told me that he was going."
Dooley said he believes that Thomas will change his mind again and go to the ceremony - because he loves Meghan so much.
He added: "There is no way he is not going to go to that wedding. That is his daughter and she loves him more than anything in the world.
"I couldn't be more proud of Meghan - she is everything to me.
"She knows she has a big support base behind her and that's all she needs to know."
Mr Markle is a retired Emmy-award winning lighting director, who worked on shows such as General Hospital.
Mr Markle was married to Meghan's mother, Doria, in 1979 but they divorced in 1987 when Meghan was six years old.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will tie the knot on 19 May at St George's Chapel, Windsor.