(Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Poor old Thomas Markle. After months and months of being mercilessly papped, the American 75-year-old finally flipped. On the (questionable) advice of his daughter, Meghan’s estranged half-sister Samantha, Thomas teamed up last week with a photographer to produce a series of staged images designed to show him in a more “positive light”.
The photos, which included Mr Markle being fitted for a suit, browsing photos of the engaged couple in an internet café, and reading a book about Britain, were seized on by the snobbier parts of the British media and were the subject of mild hilarity for a couple of days.
This – understandably – was too much for the very private father of the bride, a retired lighting technician living in Mexico with no experience of publicity. Yesterday, American gossip site TMZ reported that Mr Markle now realises that the photos were “stupid and hammy”, and has decided not to attend the wedding, for fear of embarrassing the royal family and his daughter.
For anyone with an embarrassing parent, or to anyone human, Mr Markle – gauche, exasperating, misguided, but fundamentally decent – is a familiarly endearing figure. He may think that the British public are laughing at him, but really, the best of us, the least cruel, understand just how he’s feeling. Britain is surely cheering him and his whole eclectic family on.
British tweeters are clear. At the time of writing, the most popular tweet on the whole farce reads: “Dear Thomas Markle, please come to your daughter’s wedding, if you are well enough. We all mess up. No really, you should *see* the state of us. We are utterly broken and rubbish. And mostly permanently embarrassed. Come on big guy. We will look after you. Love Britain x”.
Stressful and difficult though it must be for Meghan and Harry, the whole furore has also done a world of good for the Markle image. Meghan’s father – far from being an embarrassment – has proved to the country that poised, beautiful and rich though she is, the princess to be is a real person with the same ridiculous worries as the rest of us. Britain is warming to her.
After far too many years of mating with their own kind, the Royal Family has finally branched out. And it couldn’t be more refreshing. Harry’s previous girlfriends – the Florences and the Cressidas with their baronet fathers and their horses and their internalised copies of Debretts – are history. Self-made, hard-working Meghan Markle and her “hammy” father are the future.
And I, for one, am looking forward to Saturday’s festivities.