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Royalty

Meghan Markle: my father Thomas is a ‘victim,’ who was ‘fully corrupted’ by the media

Website:
The Daily Beast

Date:
July 25, 2020

The new Harry and Meghan biography reveals Meghan was “devastated” to discover her father helped stage tabloid pictures—but was “determined” to get him to the U.K. for her wedding.

Meghan Markle believes her father Thomas “never sought out” the tabloid infamy that beset him.

“I really believe that he’s the victim, and now I feel sad because he’s been fully corrupted,” she reportedly told a friend. Meghan is also said to have been “devastated” when she discovered her father had helped stage paparazzi-style photographs before her wedding to Prince Harry, and was “desperate to get him to London, where he would be protected from the press by palace escorts and protection officers.”

But the plan fell apart when he had a heart attack.

A “trusted confidant” related Meghan’s feelings about her father in candid, verbatim detail to Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, authors of Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, extracts of which have been running in the U.K. Times and Sunday Times. The book is due to be published on August 11.

The latest extract focuses on the drama that unfolded when Thomas helped stage photographs in the Mexican town of Rosarito Beach where he lived, and the frenzied phone calls, messages, and texts that followed between father and daughter as Meghan and the Palace realized the pictures were staged—and then the increasing, painfully public chaos that followed his heart attack as Meghan and Harry’s wedding day approached.

Meghan said that had it not been for Harry, mom Doria and her friends “she wouldn’t have mentally got through” the pre-wedding drama. Meghan sent her father one last text message the night before her wedding to Harry. It never received a response. She reportedly told a friend, “I can’t sit up all night just pressing send.”

The pap-style shots—of Thomas in a coffee shop reading a British history book, for example—had been the idea of photographer Jeff Rayner. Thomas took a 30 percent cut of their sale. But Meghan wanted to believe that her father was a victim of tabloid harassment.

“Dad, we need to know if this is true or not, because my team is going to try to stop this story running—if you are telling me it’s fake,” Meghan allegedly said to her father over the phone. “If they do that, they’re going out of their way to protect you. Dad, you’re telling me you’re being victimized, right?”

Thomas lied to Meghan, the book claims, and said, “Of course.”

“Every single time she was calling him, she was like, ‘Dad, I love you. I just want you to know I love you. Everything is fine. Just get here. We’ll have the wedding. We’ll celebrate. Don’t worry about any of this stuff. Let’s just put it behind us,’” the confidant said. Meghan “wanted to believe the best.”

Plans were made to get Thomas Markle smoothly and discreetly to London, while palace aides prepared to warn newspapers about harassing Thomas. Then the newspapers revealed his deception. A “devastated” Meghan was still determined to fly Thomas to the U.K. where his clothes for the wedding awaited him, calling him multiple times with—the book claims—variations of the message: “Dad, I still love you. Nothing has changed. We’re going to get you safely to London. I’m sending a car to come and get you.”

Thomas didn’t get in the waiting car, or return any of Meghan’s messages, Scobie and Durand claim.

Eventually, Harry and Meghan were relying on tabloid and gossip websites for updates. Thomas told TMZ he had been “ambushed” by photographers—and would no longer be going to the wedding, to save Meghan and the royals from embarrassment.

Scobie and Durand claim Harry never called Thomas to say, “If you had listened to me, this would never have happened.” Meghan, a close friend said, was “hurt and humiliated,” but “she wanted him to be there and was willing to move on. Plus, she was worried about him: she honestly wasn’t sure if he was actually OK. His behavior was bizarre.”

Then Thomas had a heart attack, which Meghan learned about through a gossip website.

Scobie and Durand cite verbatim texts Meghan allegedly sent her father: “I’ve been reaching out to you all weekend but you’re not taking any of our calls or replying to any texts . . . Very concerned about your health and safety and have taken every measure to protect you but not sure what more we can do if you don’t respond . . . Do you need help? Can we send the security team down again? I’m very sorry to hear you’re in the hospital but need you to please get in touch . . . What hospital are you at?”

“Harry and I made a decision earlier today and are dispatching the same security guys you turned away this weekend to be a presence on the ground to make sure you’re safe . . . they will be there at your disposal as soon as you need them. Please call as soon as you can . . . all of this is incredibly concerning but your health is most important.”

Thomas rebuffed the offer, and said he would recover at a motel. “Meghan asked for details but he didn’t reply,” Scobie and Durand say.

“He’s vulnerable,” Meghan reportedly told a friend. “He’s been baited. A lot of the tabloid journalists have been coaxing him and paying him. I don’t know if he really even had a chance.”

Harry and Meghan hold the media squarely to blame. “There is a sort of aggressive intrusiveness and a reckless, irresponsible almost hostility to the media’s actions that’s deeply harmful,” one source told Scobie and Durand, adding, “The sort of ruthless malevolence of some sections of the media, and it is malevolent, is genuinely bad.”

“What they’ve done to her father, drawn him out from his private life and forced him out into the open, and then waving checks at him, it’s just absolutely terrible. He wanted to live privately. He would have continued to live privately. He would have been at the wedding if the media had left him alone as they were asked to.”