On Air Now
The Smooth Late Show with Martin Collins 10pm - 1am
12 April 2019, 16:36 | Updated: 8 May 2019, 10:03
Ex-film worker Thomas Markle is Meghan Markle's 74-year-old father. He lives in Mexico and has been accused by Meghan of breaking her heart "into a million pieces."
Now that Thomas Markle is a grandfather to Meghan's first child we take a look at the Duchess's reclusive father and the role he has played in her life.
Having lived a relatively low-profile life in Mexico for years, Thomas Markle was thrust into the media spotlight upon the marriage of his daughter to Prince Harry in 2018.
So just who is Thomas Markle, what has Thomas said about Meghan, what did the letter from Meghan say and why didn't he attend the royal wedding?
Read on to find out more...
Thomas Markle is Meghan Markle's 74-year-old father who was brought up in Newport, Pennsylvania.
He now lives in the secluded area of Rosarito, Mexico - a seaside town 20 miles south of Tijuana.
Alongside Meghan, Thomas has two other children Thomas Markle Jr and Samantha Markle, who lives in Ocala, Florida.
Now retired, Thomas Markle previously worked as a TV director of photography and lighting director on shows such as General Hospital and Married With Children.
He was awarded a Chicago / Midwest Emmy and was the co-recipient of two Daytime Emmy Awards in 1982 and 2001.
Thomas Markle married Roslyn Loveless in 1964 after meeting at a party in Chicago. They had two children Thomas Markle Jr, 53, and Samantha Markle, 55, and the pair divorced in 1975.
Thomas went on to marry Meghan's mother Doria Ragland in 1979 and had their only child together, Rachel Meghan Markle - now the Duchess of Sussex - on August 4, 1981.
In 1990 Thomas Markle won $750,000 on the California State Lottery but by 2016 he had unfortunately filed for bankruptcy over a $30,000 debt.
Previously to her relationship with Prince Harry becoming public, Meghan spoke of her father as a huge inspiration to her life in an interview with Elle in November 2016 - just a year before her engagement to Prince Harry was announced.
"My mother was a free-spirited clinical therapist," Meghan told ELLE.
"...and I had the most hard working father, a television director by trade. My mum raised me to be a global citizen, with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities.
"My parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it."
She talked about her father's profession in the film industry, which inspired her to follow in his footsteps and become and actress.
“And there I was, behind the scenes of a glossy soap opera and a TV sitcom, surrounded by famous actors and their glam teams, multi-million-dollar budgets, and crew lunches that always included filet mignon and enough sweets to make you think you were at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory," Meghan wrote on The Tig, her now closed-down lifestyle website.
"I think of so many moments with my dad. Our club sandwich and fruit smoothie tradition post my tap & ballet class — classes, which by the way, he religiously took me to on Saturday mornings after working 75+ hours a week as a lighting director," wrote Meghan.
"The blood, sweat and tears this man (who came from so little in a small town in Pennsylvania, where Christmas stockings were filled with oranges, and dinners were potatoes and spam) invested in my future so that I could grow up and have so much.
"He put gas in my car when I went from audition to audition trying to make it as an actress. He is the person who believed in this grand dream of mine well before I could even see it as a possibility.
"He taught me to write thank you notes, to always arrive early, to drink Arnold Palmers [a non-alcoholic cocktail of lemonade and iced tea], to find my light when I’m on camera...and beyond."And that, right there, is my point: my dad taught me to find my light."
Up into just a few weeks before the royal wedding it was widely believed that Meghan had a good relationship with her father and he would be coming to Windsor to walk her down the aisle at the royal wedding.
However, according to Thomas Markle and his daughter Samantha Markle, Meghan's father had to pull out at the last minute due to a heart attack.
Thomas claims that he underwent a heart stent operation on May 16, 2018 - three days before his daughter's wedding.
In the same few days it was revealed that Thomas had collaborated with a paparazzi to take false photos of him being measured for a suit.
A day after Thomas Markle's operation, a statement from Kensington Palace was released on behalf of Meghan on May 17 which said:
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.
"I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.”
As a result Prince Charles stepped in to walk his future daughter-in-law down the aisle at St George's chapel on May 19, 2018.
Much like his daughter Samantha Markle, Thomas Markle has spoken often and openly to the press - to the dismay of his daughter Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
In February 2019 Thomas released a letter from Meghan Markle, written to her father in August 2018.
It is the first time the Duchess's has been heard since her statement on her father's health two days before her wedding to Prince Harry.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this, not understanding why you have chosen to take this path, turning a blind eye to the pain you’re causing. Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces - not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this.
"Something I will never understand. You’ve told the press that you called me to say you weren’t coming to the wedding - that didn’t happen because you never called. You’ve said I never helped you financially and you’ve never asked me for help with is also untrue; you sent me an email last October that said: ‘If I’ve depended too much on you for financial help then I’m sorry but please could you help me more not as a bargaining chip for my loyalty’.
I have only ever loved, protected, and defended you, offering whatever financial support I could worrying about your health…and always asking how I could help. So the week of the wedding to hear about you having a heart attack through a tabloid was horrifying.
I called and texted… I begged you to accept help - we sent someone to your home…and instead of speaking to me to accept this or any help, you stopped answering your phone and chose to only speak to tabloids.
"If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop. Please allow us to live our lives in peace. Please stop lying, please stop creating so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband…I realise you are so far down this rabbit hole that you feel (or may feel) there’s no way out, but if you take a moment to pause I think you’ll see that being able to live with a clear conscience is more valuable than any payment in the world.
I pleaded with you to stop reading the tabloids. On a daily basis you fixated and clicked on the lies they were writing about me, especially manufactured by your other daughter, who I barely know.
You watched me silently suffer at the hand of her vicious lies, I crumbled inside. We all rallied around to support and protect you from day one, and this you know. So to hear about the attacks you’ve made at Harry in the press, who was nothing but patient, kind and understanding with you is perhaps the most painful of all.
"For some reason you continue fabricating these stories, manufacturing this fictitious narrative, and entrenching yourself deeper into this web you’ve spun. The only thing that helps me sleep at night is the faith and knowing that a lie can’t live forever. I believed you, I trusted you, and told you I loved you.The next morning the CCTV footage came out.
You haven't reached out to me since the week of our wedding, and while you claim you have no way of contacting me, my phone number has remained the same.This you know. No texts, no missed called, no outreach from you - just more global interviews you’re being paid to do and say harmful and hurtful things that are untrue."
Speaking to The Sun following the birth of Meghan Markle's first child, the proud grandfather announced: “I’m delighted to hear that mother and child are doing well.
“I am proud that my new grandson is born into the British royal family and I am sure that he will grow up to serve the crown and the people of Britain with grace, dignity and honour.
“God bless the child and I wish him health and happiness, and my congratulations to my lovely daughter Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry — and God save the Queen.”