Meghan Markle’s Dad Will Reportedly Skip Royal Wedding After Staged Photo Scandal

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Engagement Photo (Credit: Instagram/@kensingtonroyal)

Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, has reportedly decided not to attend his daughter’s upcoming wedding after news broke over the weekend that he accepted money to pose for staged paparazzi photos.

Thomas Markle, 73, had been set to walk Meghan, 36,  down the aisle this Saturday, with the royal family even making a formal announcement about his participation in the wedding.

But the retired Hollywood lighting director made headlines Saturday night when the Daily Mail published a story alleging Markle had secretly collaborated with Los Angeles-based photographer Jeff Rayner to stage photos of himself in his adopted-hometown of Rosarito, Mexico.

Fast forward to Monday, May 14, and Markle told TMZ he is not going to his daughter’s wedding because he “suffered a heart attack.”

The website also reported that Markle admitted to selling photos of himself, but insisted he “meant no harm to Meghan or the royal family” when he made a deal to allow a photographer to take the pictures.

The Daily Mail investigation included screen shots from surveillance footage of Markle in an internet cafe as a photographer followed him with a large camera.

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The footage was dated March 27, 2018. One shot showed him paying to use the cafe’s computers.

Another screen shot captured Markle looking at pictures of Meghan and Prince Harry on a computer.

The story said he also posed for photos that showed him sitting in a Starbucks looking at a picture book about Britain and another set featured him being fitted for a suit – possibly for the wedding.

The Daily Mail said the photographs had been sold to newspapers, magazines and websites around the world, and may have netted up to $135,000.

However, Markle told TMZ he was offered far less money. He also said he only decided to work with a photo agency because he was being constantly hounded by photographers.

The photos were snapped amid a plea from the royal family for the media to respect the elderly Markle’s privacy, and to stop harassing him.

On Monday after the scandal unfolded, Kensington Palace released a statement urging the public to be “understanding” as Meghan deals with this “difficult situation.”

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

Earlier in the day, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle said in an interview that she had arranged the photo shoots.

“I have to say I am entirely the culprit,” Samantha told British talk show Loose Women. She insisted the photo shoots were orchestrated to show her father in a more positive light because the media was making him look bad.

“I said, ‘You have to show the world you’re getting in shape.’ It was my suggestion. I don’t believe he was paid and if he was, it was a pittance. I can understand it’s awkward for Kensington Palace,” she added.

Meghan and Prince Harry are set to tie the knot at Windsor Castle on May 19.

Samantha, who is working on a memoir titled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, is not invited to the ceremony.

News reports Monday evening said Thomas Markle may still attend the wedding.