There’s no one as publicly hated right now as Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle. Even Chrissy Teigen called him an “embarrassment” after his latest tirade was published in The Daily Mail. But while everyone rolls their eyes in confusion over why Thomas simply can’t be happy for Meghan and stop running to the press, there’s a lot to the story that’s being left unsaid.
Thomas said in his controversial interview that he’s “angry” and that he “won’t be silenced.” And, to be honest, he kind of has a point. Despite his many public embarrassments, it’s not his fault for how things unfolded — it’s the royal family’s.
Below, a few reasons that might explain why he’s so ticked off:
Before Meghan became a duchess, she was a struggling actress who was running around LA attending auditions. With only a small freelance gig as a calligrapher to help pay her bills, Meghan relied on her father to help her out financially during those early years. He even used his $750,000 lottery winnings to help pay for Meghan’s schools and training.
“My parents had been so supportive watching me audition, trying to make ends meet, taking all the odds-and-ends jobs to pay my bills,” she told Vanity Fair. “My father knew how hard it is for an actor to get work, so he above all people was so proud that I was able to beat the odds.”
Although he’s bitter and full of resentment these days, Thomas has always been a proud dad, even before Prince Harry entered the picture. Back when Meghan was a C-list actress on Suits, Thomas reportedly would tell people, “Do you know who Meghan Markle is? I’m her dad.” When Meghan got engaged, Thomas was proud, and even though he couldn’t meet Prince Harry in person, he threw his support behind the wedding.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Thomas told a reporter outside his house at the time. “I’m very delighted. I think they’re [a] very good match. I’m very happy for them, Meghan and Harry. I love my daughter very much—Harry’s a gentleman.”
In the months leading up to the wedding, Thomas played the part of the “respectful, happy father.” Retired and living a quiet life in Baja, California, he didn’t give interviews to the press and kept a low profile. He was still on good terms with Meghan back then and would talk with her weekly. However, not even her gentle instructions on how to brace himself for the royal wedding could prepare him for the onslaught of paparazzi that would descend upon his quiet town.
Photographers camped outside his home as they took pictures of him taking the trash out, shopping at Walmart, and drinking beer. Reporters even rented the house next door to him so that they could keep daily surveillance of his activities. As the press painted him as a reclusive alcoholic, the reality was that he was an Emmy-winning lighting director who had simply retired and wanted to be left alone.
Although he continued to respect Meghan, simply telling reporters,”No comment, kids, thank you,” he was gradually becoming agitated with the tabloids’ negative portrayal of him.
While Thomas floundered in the U.S., trying to handle the immense scrutiny and stress of the royal wedding, the royals themselves failed to help. According to royal etiquette expert William Hanson, much of the messiness involving the Markle family could’ve been avoided if the royals were more communicative.
“I do think it’s interesting, one of the issues seen this week with members of royalty marrying commoners, is that when you marry someone who has not grown up in this environment, no matter how bright and intelligent they may be, it can be disconcerting and accidents can happen,” he told Page Six. “The royal household should have sent someone out to talk to Mr. Markle immediately and others in Meghan’s family. But that didn’t happen — and it has blown up in their faces.”
A good example of this was when Thomas went to a secret suit fitting arranged by Meghan. Although his whereabouts was supposed to be top-secret that day, he naively purchased a pair of pants using his credit card, giving his identity away. In fact, throughout the whole royal wedding debacle, Thomas proved time and time again that he didn’t understand proper decorum. Suzanne Moore, columnist at The Guardian, agreed:
Having starred in a TV series, Meghan is perhaps better prepared for surveillance than many. Her father is not. No normal person could be… It could surely have been avoided if the palace had stepped in earlier to try to warn, prepare and protect him.
With only guidance from his trashy daughter, Thomas made a huge mistake and took staged paparazzi photos for a payment. The pictures were an embarrassment, showing him Googling his daughter and reading a book about “British images.” He would later admit in interviews that he thought taking staged photos would improve his image.
“I thought it would be a nice way of improving my look,” he told Good Morning Britain after the wedding. “Well, obviously that all went to hell. I feel bad about it. I apologized for it.”
Unknown to Thomas, but the royals have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the press. Anyone who runs off to the tabloids is shunned by the family. Realizing his mistake, he tried to back out of the wedding out of respect for Meghan and the royals, but then things just got even more complicated. According to him, Meghan and Harry told him that he didn’t have to apologize and that he was still welcome at the wedding. But then, a royal aide contacted him again and asked if he needed help writing his apology.
“I was shocked because I’d offered to apologize and been told it wasn’t necessary,” he said. “Then suddenly I’m being told that I needed help apologizing, as if there’s a special way to apologize to the royal family. Perhaps you do it with gravy and flowers on the side? I was taken aback to be asked if I needed help apologizing, like I was a child. That wasn’t going to happen.”
The back-and-forth between him, the palace, and Meghan — not to mention the public embarrassment from the photos — all started to take a toil on him.
Despite the fallout over the pics, Thomas still had an invitation to the wedding. Unfortunately, he suffered a heart attack just seven days before the big event. On the day a royal aide was supposed to drive him to the airport, he checked himself into a hospital for an emergency heart operation.
“He is under significant stress,” a source told The Daily Mail before the wedding. “There is genuine concern about his safety. His health and safety are paramount [to Meghan]. He is under a huge amount of pressure.”
Although there were rumors that he faked the heart attack to get out of the wedding, Thomas denied that was true. Plus, there was evidence that he checked into a Mexican hospital at the time he said he did.
“It’s disgusting they said I didn’t have a heart attack,” he said. “Hospitals are bound by confidentiality laws and when you check in, you can say you don’t want your name on their records if anyone calls in to ask.”
After missing out on one of the biggest weddings of the year, Thomas was understandably crushed. He gave a controversial interview to Good Morning Britain where he talked about his thoughts on the wedding.
“I absolutely wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle,” he said on the show. “The unfortunate thing for me now is I’m a footnote in one of the greatest moments in history rather than the dad walking her down the aisle. That upsets me somewhat.”
People were a little surprised at his sudden outspokenness, especially considering how private he used to be. But it was clear that Thomas was trying to gain control over an uncontrollable situation. Although he said nothing but glowing things about Meghan and Harry in the interview, he would later admit that the interview angered the royal family.
After the media whirlwind he was in, along with the awkward mistakes he made while being in the limelight, Thomas found that he ruffled too many royal feathers and was officially shunned.
“I’m really hurt that she’s cut me off completely,” he told The Daily Mail. “I used to have a phone number and text number for her personal aides at the palace… Those numbers were disconnected, they no longer work. I have no way of contacting my daughter.”
He later lamented that he had no way of even sending a birthday card to her, and morosely said, “Perhaps it would be easier for Meghan if I died.”
Considering Thomas isn’t some deadbeat dad but has loved and financially supported Meghan, to be iced out of her life like that is straight savage on her part.
Upset and hurt, Thomas clearly doesn’t care anymore. After going on a nine-hour tirade to Daily Mail reporters for no money, it appears he simply wants his frustrations to be known. And with his communication to Meghan cut off, he has no choice but to speak to her through the tabloids. His actions aren’t perfect or right, but they’re understandable.
“Kensington Palace is to blame for not realizing the Markles needed assistance,” William said. “These are people who aren’t used to celebrity or royal lifestyle. The perception of fame makes people behave in very odd ways.”