(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The American actress Meghan Markle has confirmed that her father, Thomas Markle, will not attend her wedding to Britain’s Prince Harry on Saturday.
Her statement ends days of speculation over the 73-year-old’s health, and a controversy over whether he staged a series of paparazzi-style photographs.
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” Meghan Markle said in a statement provided by Kensington Palace Thursday.
“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.”
The statement is the first official confirmation that Thomas Markle would not be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
CNN has learned that Markle has been in contact with her father in recent days, who told her that he was unable to attend the wedding on medical advice. CNN understands that while Markle is concerned for her father, she is surrounded by friends, in a good frame of mind and is looking forward to the wedding.
Kensington Palace has faced criticism for not doing enough to protect Thomas Markle from the inevitable glare of publicity that would come with the situation. In particular, some royal commentators have suggested that the royal family ought to have sent a “minder” to look after Markle in the weeks running up to the wedding.
The royal family never discusses such arrangements publicly, but CNN has learned that Kensington Palace has been offering advice and providing practical support in protecting Thomas Markle’s security and privacy since after the couple met in 2016.
Kensington Palace did not say who would take Markle’s place, but Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, arrived in London on Wednesday and will be a leading candidate.
Another possible stand-in would be Prince Charles, Meghan’s future father-in-law.
Thomas Markle first suggested he might not attend the wedding on Monday, after conceding he had worked with an American celebrity photographer to stage a series of pictures of him preparing for the ceremony.