Though it was previously confirmed that Meghan Markle's father would attend his daughter's wedding to Prince Harry this weekend and walk her down the aisle, Thomas Markle now tells TMZ he's not going. Thomas Markle, who is divorced from Meghan's mother, tells the gossip site he was tired of being caught by the paparazzi in unflattering situations (including "buying beer, looking disheveled and reclusive," per TMZ), so he agreed when a paparazzi agency offered to pay him if he let photographers take pictures of him getting ready for the royal wedding. An uproar ensued over the staged photos, and Thomas Markle says he decided not to attend the wedding so as to avoid embarrassing his daughter or the British royal family. Asked about the TMZ report by CNN, Kensington Palace said only, "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."
Thomas Markle had a heart attack six days ago, he tells TMZ, but he had checked himself out of the hospital in order to attend the wedding before he changed his mind. He says the staged photos look "stupid and hammy" and that he didn't mean to cause drama for his daughter or the royals; he also says he was not paid anywhere close to the $100,000 that has been reported (and that he's turned down multiple requests to be interviewed for up to $100,000). As People reports, Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha says she's the one who arranged for their dad's photo shoot in an effort to improve his public image. Samantha has spoken out against her sister and Prince Harry more than once, and it was recently reported that Meghan Markle "has no relationship" with her half-siblings (she also has a half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr.) and they would not be attending the wedding. (Read more Meghan Markle stories.)