News & Opinion

The Royal Family

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry want her dad to talk to them, not tabloids

Website:
The Daily Beast

Date:
August 16, 2018

Thomas Markle just compared the royals to ‘cult-like’ Scientology – a strange move if he wants to build bridges with Meghan and Harry who find his media interviews ‘disrespectful.’

Has the royal family had enough of Thomas Markle?

Possibly – at least with his tabloid words.

On Friday night in The Sun, Meghan Markle’s father was quoted as comparing the Royal Family, his daughter’s husband’s family, to “cult-like” Scientologists, or the robotic submissives of The Stepford Wives.

“They are either like Scientologists or the Stepford family. If they hear anybody say anything they just lock the doors. They need to speak up! They are cult-like — like Scientology — because they are secretive.

They close the door, pull the shades down and put their fingers in their ears so they don’t have to hear. “Maybe they have a secret handshake too! You cannot ask a question of them — as they won’t answer.” (The Church of Scientology denies that it is a cult.)

On Wednesday, Samantha Markle, Meghan Markle’s half-sister, revealed that Thomas is about to launch a clothing line. (Every time you think the Thomas Markle/royal family story can’t get any weirder, it does.)

Samantha tweeted: “So excited about my father’s new clothing line for men! Will Keep you posted!”

No further details are available as yet, but at first sight this seems to be in the milieu of ironically named clothing lines, as the original scandal of Meghan’s father involved him setting up fake paparazzi shots of himself getting fitted for a suit for Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding.

After that story erupted, in the days before the wedding, Thomas Markle suffered a heart attack (later rumored to have been faked) and couldn’t make the big day.

And after that, he has continued to cause huge presumed embarrassment and upset by giving interviews to The Sun, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and broadcasters, holding forth on anything from Prince Harry’s alleged support for Donald Trump to the time he lied to Harry about the paparazzi photos scandal.

Thomas Markle said he told Prince Harry he was being measured “for a hoodie” in the shots, before hanging up on his future son-in-law.

“The only reason Meghan hasn’t spoken to her father yet is because she’s yet to hear from him in a respectful manner,” a source close to Meghan told DailyMail.com on Tuesday. “Thomas is speaking to the press more than he’s reached out and spoken to his own daughter. Despite Thomas’s claim that he has no way to reach Meghan, he knows that her mother Doria is in touch with her and Thomas knows how to reach Doria.

“If Thomas truly wanted to speak with Meghan, he could easily have sent a letter to her mother and asked her to pass it along. Unfortunately that wouldn’t sell papers or fit into his fabricated and salacious narrative.”

Another source told Entertainment Tonight that Kensington Palace was considering “a more aggressive strategy” to deal with Meghan’s dad. “The Palace, who normally takes a firm policy of not commenting on personal matters, is now considering a more aggressive strategy to deal with the situation with both her father and her sister. No one wants to see this continue.”

If both sources are to be believed, then it sounds like the royal patience with Thomas Markle and his interviews with his press—as well as his pronouncements over perceived royal slights and palace rejection—is wearing thin.

Kensington Palace is “less concerned” about Samantha than Thomas, the ET source notes, “because she has never had a real relationship with Meghan.” Ouch.

So now what will they do? Leave him be, or finally engage with Thomas Markle and seek to stop his complaining to the media once and for all?

Just a few weeks ago, Meghan was rumored to be planning a “top secret” trip to her father to reunite with him.

The no-engagement option wouldn’t differ that markedly from their past treatment of him, and engagement with a clearly tricky family situation. From the first moment of alarm at his actions, the royal family and PR operation have played a surprisingly, and disastrously, hands-off strategy when it comes to intervening or seeking a rapprochement with Thomas Markle.

Surely the more sensible thing to do would have been for Meghan or Harry or palace flunkies to go see Thomas with a view to make nice, or at least make-workable. Whether Meghan herself vetoed this reaching out is unclear, as is the true nature and gravity of their estrangement.

But after the pre-wedding dramas has come a relentless stream of damning post-wedding interviews. Now it seems Harry, Meghan, and/or the palace have had enough.

Officially, the royal couple have said nothing. The strategy now appears to be to leave Thomas Markle to say what he wants and to have public sympathy swing behind his daughter.

This may be working. The general tabloid feeling was summed up by the New York Post this week as “It’s Time for Thomas Markle to STFU.”

Markle hasn’t yet shut up. He revealed to the Mail on Sunday how his planned father of the bride speech would have gone: “I was going to recount the funny story about how she broke the news to me about dating Harry: ‘Daddy, I’ve met a man… Daddy, he’s English… Daddy, he’s a prince.’

“I thought it was a cute story. Like any father I wanted to say a few words. I was going to thank the Royal Family for welcoming my beautiful daughter into their family. But it was a speech that I was never going to be allowed to give. That hurt.”

“They [the royal family] have treated her father in a way that Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, would have loathed,” Thomas Markle told the Mail on Sunday.

If he is trying to alienate himself from his daughter’s second husband, there can be no surer way than carelessly invoking his beloved, much-missed mother.

Perhaps referring to the unflattering pictures taken of him, Markle emphasized: “I eat a mostly fish-based diet. I go to McDonald’s because when you’re my age after a two-hour drive it is a good place to pee. I get take-out fish from McDonald’s. I’ve lost 40lb since my heart attack. I eat fish and vegetables and stay on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. I’m not ‘the weirdo schlubby dad living in a shack in Mexico drinking beer and eating McDonald’s.’”

The next day he told The Sun of Meghan: “I don’t expect to see her or hear back from her and that’s OK.” He added that he thought he had been “locked out” of her new royal life.

He also told The Sun: “I would like my relationship with Meghan to be like father and daughter like we’ve always been. I would like to put our differences behind us and get together. I miss you very much. If I have a message to Harry, is, get over it, I’m your new father-in-law.”

Again, as long as he stays this intemperate (in public at least), it seems likely that Harry, Meghan, and the palace will want to steer clear of directly engaging with Thomas Markle.

Markle also claims he wants a quiet life—this despite all the interviews he’s choosing to give to journalists about his daughter, now one of the world’s most famous people.

“I don’t want to be followed,” Thomas told the Mail. “I don’t want stories made up about me. I want my boring old life back. I feel like I’m damned if I do talk and damned if I don’t. If you want to stay away from me then I will stay away from you. For two years I’ve been living in hell. I’ve been vilified, stories have been made up about me, I’ve been followed everywhere. I just want my quiet, boring life back.”