Thomas Markle, father of Meghan, has been hospitalized after a possible stroke. He was scheduled to go to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on June 5, where he would meet his son-in-law, Prince Harry, for the first time.
I must admit, I feel bad for Thomas Markle. He is thought of as a vile, opportunistic man who sold out his daughter for cash, appearing on numerous British television shows to talk about how Meghan iced him out. But in reality, Thomas Markle is just as much a victim of the Royal family and the British press as his daughter and her husband.
In her new book The Palace Papers, Tina Brown got considerable access to Markle; her conversations with him are as depressing as they are revelatory. Brown paints him as a supportive father who doted on Meghan but spent most of his time working. When Meghan started dating Harry, Thomas was quietly living his retirement in a little Mexican town called Rosarito, not far from the California border.
When his daughter’s relationship went public, the Palace left Markle hanging. “It’s worth remembering that when Harry and Meghan first went out together, the Palace officials officially reached out to all the press on background and said Thomas Markle lives privately alone and doesn’t want to speak to media,” Paddy Harverson, a former public relations executive for the Palace, told Brown. “The press ignored all this. They groomed him; they broke him down to the point where he succumbed. There was no public interest in it. All the stuff that happened stemmed from the ruthless way the media broke into his life.”
Markle’s life was so inundated by the press that he took to only leaving his house in the middle of the night to, as he put it, “go to my ATM machines and do some shopping.” Meanwhile, he felt slighted by his future son-in-law, who acted in his typical weenie manner — he showed no interest in meeting him before proposing to Meghan, and then pleaded with him over text to not talk to the reporters who swarmed his house and his town. A sample text Harry sent Markle, according to Brown: “Tom, Harry again! Really need to speak to u. U do not need to apologize, we understand the circumstances but ‘going public’ will only make the situation worse.” Oy. U can see how this was a fraught situation.
Eventually Markle succumbed to the press’s carrot: They offered him money in exchange for staged photos of him getting measured for a tux and reading a picture book about England. Going off the advice of his disturbed eldest daughter, Samantha, he took the cash. Markle was ashamed when recounting this to Brown. “I thought I was doing the right thing, which obviously I was not,” he told her. “It was a mistake.”
In many ways, Thomas Markle is kind of a sad bizarro Princess Diana. But while the press adored Diana to death, they’re perversely into Markle: Who is this doddering old bear, the seemingly loserish father of a beautiful Duchess? He’s the butt of the joke — and he’s being exploited until he breaks.