'I'm staying away from Meghan's big day', says dad
Meghan Markle's father will not walk her down the aisle, latest reports have claimed.
Thomas Markle (73) had been due to fly to Britain to take a prominent role at his daughter's wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday.
Mr Markle, a former TV cinematographer, would have met his future son-in-law for the first time on the trip.
However, reports in the US yesterday quoted him as saying he had decided not to go after being caught co-operating with paparazzi "because he doesn't want to embarrass the royal family or his daughter".
Prince Harry and Meghan last night appealed for "understanding and respect" to be given to the American actress' father amid the speculation.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "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."
Celebrity gossip website TMZ also claimed Mr Markle told its reporter he had been planning to travel despite having a heart attack just six days ago.
TMZ quoted Mr Markle, who lives in Mexico, as saying he meant no harm to Meghan or Harry by taking part in an arranged photo-shoot with a paparazzi agency.
He allegedly claimed he had not done it for money, but to improve his image after a series of unflattering photos were taken.
Previously, actress Meghan's half-sister had taken the responsibility for the photo shoot.
Samantha Grant said she had suggested her father pose for "positive" photographs.
Ms Grant, who is not in contact with Meghan, wrote on Twitter: "The media was making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family.
"We had no idea he would be taken advantage of."
Pressed on whether he had been paid, she said: "I have no idea, but if he did I'm going to assume it was a pittance, because they don't pay that much. It was really so that the world could see him doing the healthy things that he's doing."
Asked about the effect on Kensington Palace, after aides repeatedly insisted Mr Markle did not wish to be photographed, she conceded: "I can understand why it would be awkward."
It has previously issued warnings to the media not to publish pictures of Mr Markle or Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, taken "under circumstances of harassment".
However, a series of photos were printed in the tabloid press showing Mr Markle exercising in public, reading a photographic book about Britain, being measured for a suit and looking up pictures of his daughter in an internet cafe.
At the weekend, published CCTV images appeared to show him collaborating with a photographer, walking into the cafe with him and setting up the best angle.