Prince Harry has his bride's back.
Meghan Markle faced some challenging moments this month when her father Thomas Markle got caught up in a scandal involving staged paparazzi photos and subsequently revealed that he had suffered a heart attack. As the royal wedding drew closer, the retired Hollywood lighting director reportedly underwent heart surgery three days before the ceremony. By Thursday morning, the American star issued a statement confirming that her father will no longer be attending her nuptials and, as such, will not be walking her down the aisle.
"Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding," Meghan said in a statement. "I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health."
As a source told E! News, "This is a very celebratory and happy time for both Meghan and Harry, but the situation with her father has been very difficult." As for the groom, "Prince Harry is very protective. He will do all he can to protect Meghan and her immediate family."
"Mental health is a huge priority to the Royal Family and everyone is fully aware of what kind of effect this can have on someone," the source continued. "Prince Charles and the entire family have a great understanding and are supporting and caring for both Prince Harry and Meghan during this private matter."
Prince Harry's father demonstrated his support for his future daughter-in-law when he met with Markle's mother Doria Ragland for the first time on Wednesday. E! News exclusively learned he and Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, enjoyed tea with Prince Harry, Markle and Ragland at their London home, Clarence House. E! News has learned it was a pleasant affair. Everyone got on very well and it was a happy day.
As E! News previously reported, Prince Charles thinks she is charming and very bright and Duchess Camilla believes Markle has made a great start in becoming a member of the family.
Despite the unfortunate Thursday announcement, Markle smiled to fans lining the streets as she and Prince Harry arrived to Windsor Castle on Thursday. The soon-to-be bride looked radiant from inside the car as she and her British beau reportedly traveled for a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II over tea.
As Markle concluded in her public statement, "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."