by Zach Johnson | Tue., May. 15, 2018 7:05 AM
Reportedly, Thomas Markle will not be walking Meghan Markle down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry Saturday. Thomas, a former television lighting director, said Monday he had recently suffered a heart attack. Furthermore, he does not want to embarrass Meghan or the Royal Family any further, after it was revealed Sunday he'd staged his paparazzi pictures.
Kensington Palace did not confirm Thomas' abrupt absence, saying only, "This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation." Samantha Grant, Meghan's half-sister, took the fall for their father on ITV's Loose Women Monday. After Thomas reportedly spoke to TMZ that afternoon, she appeared via satellite on ITV's Good Morning Britain Tuesday to shame the world's media for invading her dad's privacy.
"He was living a very quiet peaceful life, not as a recluse," she said of Thomas, who lives in Mexico. "He is a very intelligent man. He's been gregarious and worked in entertainment for 40 years. He wanted peace and quiet. He was avoiding the media. He hadn't spoken with the press and was doing just that. But when he called me panicking on the freeway because he's in a dangerous situation, being followed by seven or eight cars…I think there have been examples in history of how dangerous that can be. He was so stressed out; they rented the house next to him in Mexico, four or five of them. He can't open his blinds. He can't go anywhere without being followed, and really, it's quite atrocious and intrusive—and I think it's highly unethical."
Samantha, who is estranged from Meghan, said Thomas "was really having heart pains and suffered a heart attack" a week before the wedding. "It was an unbelievable amount of stress." To silence any skeptics, Samantha told the co-hosts, "As far as whether or not he had had a heart attack, people have had heart attacks they didn't know they'd had until they had an ECG. They're not always that loud and they're not always that dramatic. For him, that was the case."
By that point, Piers Morgan was enraged. "You say this is all the media's fault, that he's not coming to the wedding because of this, because the media have been treating him in a shabby way. Many of our viewers may have watched your activities in a year and half and think that you have treated your sister, Meghan, in a shabby way," he told Samantha, who is writing a tell-all book titled The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister. "That may be, of course, why you're not invited to the wedding." Morgan pointed out that in the past, she has described Meghan as "narcissistic" and "selfish," but Samantha insisted her previous comments were overblown. "I think lot of what you're reading is from tabloids," she told Piers, "which are wholly inaccurate."
As for why Samantha encouraged Thomas to stage paparazzi photos, she said, "The goal of those photographs was basically because he's feeling defenseless. A person has the right to say, 'Enough is enough.'" She then shamed "media vultures" for allegedly "taking advantage" of him. But Piers didn't believe Samantha was being honest about the situation. "Here's the problem with all this: In the last few weeks, the British media have been bombarded with letters from Kensington Palace saying he wants to be left alone," he explained. "And now, it turns out he was actively invading his own privacy. I now feel sorry for his own daughter, who doesn't have her father at the wedding because he has been caught up posing for paparazzi photos." He also accused Samantha of "trading off her very tenuous connection" with Meghan, whom she has not seen in 10 years. "It's pretty rich coming from you, Samantha, to accuse media of being vultures...There's no bigger media vulture with this wedding than you, is there? How do you have the gall to come on here and talk about media vultures? You're doing a book called The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister. You have been trashing her for two years, you little vulture!"
Samantha, who said she "hoped" Thomas would attend the wedding, then tried to explain why she gave her book a sensational title. "I'm sure, Piers, your inquiring minds would like to know why it was that. I've made it clear in several interviews that you can't judge a book by its cover, and similarly, you can't judge a book by its title. The title was a mockery of social labels because they are injurious. I wanted a title that was opposite content," Samantha said. "For intelligent minds to look at that, I assumed that people would understand that. But I think people just want to look at the negative and they want to dig out the negative. That was the assumption..."
Regardless of Thomas' intentions, Piers' sympathies lie with Meghan in the days before her wedding. "It seems to me that her father—your father—has let her down," he told Samantha.
Watch E!'s five-hour Live From the Royal Wedding coverage Saturday, 19 May starting at 10 a.m. and again later that day.