Princess Diana’s former bodyguard said her youngest son Prince Harry should step up as a royal and take responsibility for his father-in-law’s willingness to speak with the tabloids.
Retired Metropolitan Police inspector Ken Wharfe told Yahoo News’ "The Royal Box" Friday that the 33-year-old royal should have “insisted” that aides were dispatched to help the 74-year-old former Hollywood lighting director cope with the intense media scrutiny surrounding his daughter Meghan Markle.
“He’s not an unintelligent guy,” said the 69-year-old. “He’s been through the mill himself, he knows what press intrusion is like. He has a drawbridge and a portcullis to hide behind when they pursue him. Thomas Markle doesn’t.”
Wharfe believed Thomas isn’t getting the appropriate support he needs from the royal family to help him navigate the media invasion following the former “Suits” star becoming England’s Duchess of Sussex.
“Nobody’s looking after him,” said Wharfe. “They’re going to bend his arm, there’ll be the offers money, there’ll be the pursuing paparazzi, the invasion and the negative reporting that we’ve seen. Harry could have done something about that. He may have advised palace officials, maybe he did, but he could have insisted on that. He could well have done, but for some reason, it hasn’t happened.”
And while Thomas continues to speak with the media without the consent of Markle or Harry, Wharfe said he actually felt sorry for the bewildered patriarch.
“I don’t think we should dismiss her father as someone who’s made mistakes here, as an ogre,” he said. “His behavior is a result of poor advice or no advice.”
When Wharfe served as a protection officer to the late Diana, he was in charge of round-the-clock security both at home and abroad from 1987 until 1994. He also closely observed her sons Harry and older brother Prince William as they grew up.
He felt it should have been obvious to the royal family that problems with the American actress’ family could arise long before Markle and Harry announced their engagement in November 2017.
“I think the palace was at fault not to earmark this problem very early on in this engagement or even in that relationship and decide how we are going to address this with her father,” said Wharfe. “These are ordinary folk, divorced living in a foreign land and suddenly their daughter’s marrying a prince. This was always going to be a problem.
“There are a lot of aides and advisors in the royal household that could easily have set up something way before this wedding to ensure that the rights and the privacy of her father — irrespective of what her father has done in his life, that’s irrelevant — to assist him through this one in a lifetime experience.
"Because what’s happening to him now is, what I suspected would happen to him is that one the fairytale moves off, the press wants the next story. And the story is her father, her brother, her sister, her mother, and so it continues. This could have been softened considerably, had he had the advice of people in the palace to ensure this didn’t happen.”
While Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, has received praise by the media for her grace and confidence surrounding the royal wedding, Wharfe said she simply makes it look easy.
“It would be very difficult for any parent outside of royalty,” he said. “Meghan’s mother, this diminutive lady with absolute style arriving at Windsor Castle in front of global media, that’s very daunting for anybody.
"I’ve worked and move within the royal household on a number of occasions and it’s quite a daunting experience. Palace advisors should take some level of criticism for not softening the blow for Thomas Markle, and unfortunately, the media will now stay on him. The story will run until there’s an answer.”
Just days before Markle walked down the aisle in front of millions to marry Harry, she announced her father wouldn’t attend the royal wedding following his heart surgery.
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding,” she said in a statement released by Kensington Palace. “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.”
Kensington Palace then announced Markle would be walked down the aisle by Prince Charles, Harry’s father.
Thomas’ surgery followed days of press surrounding his health and speculation on whether or not he’d attend the royal wedding.
He also stirred headlines when it was revealed he staged paparazzi photos that showed him preparing for the big day. His daughter Samantha Grant claimed she had set up the paparazzi shoot.
Back in January, Grant told Fox News 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,” said the 53-year-old. “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."