On Monday, Samantha Grant took credit for setting up her father's paparazzi photos—and hours later, Thomas Markle claimed he will no longer be attending Meghan Markle's wedding.
Less than a week before the former Suits actress marries into the royal family, The Mail on Sunday discovered many photos of her father had been staged. Photographed in Rosarito, Mexico, where he currently lives, Tom was seen visiting an internet café to look at images of Meghan and her fiancé, Prince Harry. Other supposedly "candid" pictures showed Thomas reading Images of Britain: A Pictorial Journey Through History and getting fitted for a tuxedo.
The Mail on Sunday obtained surveillance footage showing Thomas talking to a paparazzo before the pictures were taken. Thomas, a former TV lighting director, did not immediately. It caused quite a stir, considering Harry had recently asked the media to give Thomas privacy.
Samantha, who is writing a book about the bride-to-be, took the fall for their father.
"I have to say, I am entirely the culprit," Meghan's estranged half-sister, Samantha, announced on the ITV talk show Loose Women Monday. "As we know the media can take very unflattering photographs of people on their casual days and blow it way out of proportion. I said, 'You know, the world has no idea you're getting in shape, doing healthy things. They don't photograph you buying vegetables and PH water. They photograph you as unflattering ways as they can.' I said, 'Really, you need to show the world that you're getting in shape and doing great healthy things.' So, I suggested it." The palace had no comment on the alleged set-ups. Samantha, who is not invited to the wedding, added, "There's a lot of scrutiny that it was money motivated; it was not. It was my suggestion that to benefit him and to benefit the royal family, everyone look good and they depict you as you are: in shape and doing healthy things."
"Let me clarify: He's 73, which makes him a bit more fragile. He's a quiet man," she said. "I feel that the media have unfairly preyed on him. He's really been admirable about laying low and not speaking out, with all due respect. I merely wanted him to be seen in a respectable light..."
Hours after Samantha's interview, Thomas told TMZ the photos look "stupid and hammy." He argued he merely did as the paparazzi agency told him, which he later came to regret. Thomas added that he suffered a heart attack six days ago, but checked himself out of the hospital in order to attend the wedding. He told TMZ he has now decided not to walk Meghan down the aisle, because he doesn't want to embarrass Meghan or the Royal Family on her wedding day.
"This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding," a Kensington Palace spokesperson told E! News in a statement. "She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation."
At this point, it's unknown who will walk Meghan down the aisle in Thomas' absence.