Meghan Markle's father not attending royal wedding after heart attack, staged paparazzi photos, says report

Kensington Palace refused to comment to Fox News on a bombshell report that Meghan Markle’s father is not walking the “Suits” actress down the aisle at her May 19 wedding to Britain’s Prince Harry, after he suffered a heart attack a few days ago and after admitting he participated in staged paparazzi photos.

Markle’s estranged half-sister Samantha Grant also did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Kensington Palace did release a statement on Monday announcing Markle and Harry are requesting "understanding and respect" for her father. It did not confirm TMZ's report that Thomas had decided not to attend the wedding on Saturday in Windsor, England.

"This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding," read the statement. "She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation."

TMZ reported Monday the patriarch suffered from a heart attack six days ago, but checked himself out of the hospital to attend the royal wedding.

However, the celebrity gossip site claimed he ultimately chose not to attend to avoid embarrassing the royal family or his daughter.

Thomas Markle told the celebrity gossip site he meant no harm to Markle or the royal family when he allowed a photo agency to snap photos of himself getting ready for the wedding. He also claimed the deal wasn’t made for financial gain.

Instead, Thomas insisted he’s been ambushed by paparazzi who have photographed him as a disheveled recluse. Thomas was allegedly upset he was photographed buying beer, implying he was an alcoholic. Instead, TMZ claimed he was buying beer for the guards at his residence.

Thomas also claimed that when a paparazzi agency approached him, he figured the opportunity would help recast his image in a more positive light. However, he admitted the photos made him appear “stupid and hammy,” and has since deeply regretted participating in the photo op.

Grant took the blame for the staged paparazzi shots of her father.

Grant revealed on Twitter Monday she came up with the idea to have their father photographed in Mexico, where he lives.

"The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault," Grant tweeted Monday morning. "The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family."

She added, "We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money."

Markle has a complicated relationship with her father but announced via Kensington Palace on May 4 that he would walk her down the aisle on her big day.

According to the Daily Mail, Markle's father received $135,000 for the photos, which included him getting fit for a suit for the wedding.

But Grant, who last spoke to her famous sister in 2014, insisted her father didn't call the paparazzi for money.

"I'm entirely the culprit. I said to him to show the world 'I'm getting in shape and getting healthy' so I suggested it,'" she admitted on Britain's "Loose Women."

Grant, who was not invited to Markle's first wedding to Trevor Engelson in 2011, was also not sent an invite to her sister's royal nuptials.

The news comes less than two weeks after Markle's half-brother Thomas Markle Jr. shared a handwritten letter to In Touch slamming her for not getting an invite to the wedding. He warned the 33-year-old royal that "it's not too late" to stop the wedding.

The 51-year-old insisted the 36-year-old American actress is a “jaded, shallow, conceited woman that will make a joke of you and the royal family heritage.”

Thomas went on to claim that their father is still struggling financially after he allegedly went into debt to support Markle’s dreams of becoming a sought-after actress. He also claimed the patriarch wasn’t invited to the wedding — which is not true.

"What kind of person starts out by using her own father until he’s bankrupt, then forgets about him in Mexico leaving him broke, over mostly all her debts," he claimed. "And when it’s time to pay him back she forgets her own father like she never knew him.”

Then, on Friday, Thomas Jr. shared another handwritten letter to In Touch revealing he’s had a change of heart.

“Meg I know that I’m not perfect, nor is anyone else in our family, as I’m sure you have read by now,” he wrote. “But good, bad, or perfect, we’re the only family that you have. It does hurt my feelings not getting invited to your wedding, along with the rest of the family.

“But it’s not too late to send me an invite along with your entire family,” he added. "We should all be there to show our love and support on your wedding day because that’s what families do. Not to mention, how long it’s been since we all seen and have gotten together, that would be very nice.

Thomas admitted he and his famous sibling have become distant, “along with the rest of our family members over the years.”

However, he insisted family should always come first, no matter the circumstances.

“Meg, I am very proud of you,” he claimed. “I truly want you to have a great wedding day and [a] long future with Prince Harry. I’m sorry for venting my frustrations about [how] he should call it off, but I was disappointed and confused about not getting invited. I really only wish you the best.

“I remember a loving, caring, amazing girl who had a great family growing up and I know you’re still that person inside. So whatever you decide is OK with me, maybe I’ll see you there, with all of us. It can still be a royal wedding family reunion.”

Thomas concluded, “Once again, congrats to you and Prince Harry. I’m very proud of you and wish you the best.”

Back in January, Grant told Fox News her brother had been speaking to the media without the family’s consent.

“My brother is out there acting like he’s the spokesman of the family,” she said. “He is estranged from my dad because he sold my dad out to photographers from my uncle’s house and tried to get my fragile uncle to talk.

"He gave up my dad’s whereabouts. In other words, all those rumors out there started by my brother. He claimed he would walk Meg down the aisle. That’s more malarkey than I could even imagine to articulate.”

Grant added she and her family are new to the spotlight and it can be difficult to cope with the worldwide interest in their personal lives.

“As much as I love and respect Meg, she’s got security and a publicist and can be protected from all that,” she said. “She and Harry can tell the media to stop. The rest of the family doesn’t have that luxury. I love her, [but] she may not want me saying anything.

“I refuse to be a victim of the media. I’m not going to let them disparage me, embarrass me personally and professionally and not defend myself… I can only hope she would respect and understand that… In fact, if I were Meg, I would probably put something out there so that there was some sort of protective mechanism in place where the family couldn’t be tortured as much.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.