They are touching, heartfelt notes in elegant handwriting, sent from a devoted daughter to the ‘Daddy’ she clearly adores. In one she vows: ‘All I want to do is make you proud… and I promise, no matter what, I’ll do it.’ In another she thanks her father for taking ‘the best care of me’ and adds: ‘I love you to no end.’
For Thomas Markle, estranged father of the Duchess of Sussex, the treasured words are a painful reminder of the bitter rift and ‘wall of silence’ between him, his pregnant daughter and Prince Harry, the son-in-law he has never met.
While Meghan and Harry will spend their Christmas at Sandringham with the Queen, Prince William and Kate, the upcoming festive season fills Mr Markle with dread as it will be his first Christmas without a card, call or visit from his beloved youngest child.
In an exclusive interview, Thomas Markle revealed this photo of himself with his daughter at her first wedding – banishing rumours he didn’t attend
‘I have been frozen out and I can’t stay silent,’ he said last night. ‘I have made dozens of attempts to reach my daughter via text and letters, but she and Harry have put up a wall of silence. They have done what they once told me not to do – they are believing everything negative that has been written about me. So I am reaching out to them, once again, to try to correct the lies and get the truth out there.
‘Everyone says, why don’t I just shut the f*** up? That Meghan can’t speak to me because I’ll give away secrets. But that’s bull****. I’ve been accused of every terrible thing you can think of. In one magazine they had an awful story about Prince Charles right beside one about me. But no one is shunning Prince Charles.’
This is just his fourth interview since the fall-out with Harry and Meghan after he staged paparazzi pictures shortly before the couple’s wedding in May and then suffered two heart attacks, preventing him walking his daughter down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Today, in a wide-ranging interview with The Mail on Sunday, Mr Markle, for the first time, categorically rejects some of the most ‘grievous’ lies against him and produces evidence in the form of photographs, medical statements and even a faded plane ticket that he says proves he is telling the truth:
Mr Markle shared several heartwarming photos and notes of his estranged daughter Meghan – admitting that the treasured memories remind him of the bitter wall between him and Meghan
THE LIE: He ‘faked’ his heart attacks out of embarrassment over the staged paparazzi pictures to give himself an excuse not to travel to Britain for the wedding.
FACT: He produces a stack of private medical bills, a hospital discharge letter citing ‘heart failure’ and a list of medications prescribed to prevent future heart attacks: ‘I had two heart attacks, the second of which the doctor called a widow-maker and nearly killed me.’
THE LIE: He failed to attend Meghan’s first wedding in 2011 to film producer Trevor Engelson at the beach resort of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
FACT: Mr Markle produces a picture of himself and Meghan, taken just moments before he walked her down the beach alongside ex-wife Doria, the only member of Meghan’s family to attend the Royal Wedding. He even kept his business-class plane ticket to the nuptials.
A father’s anguish: ‘Murderers are not punished like I’ve been’
Thomas Markle admits to ‘stupid mistakes’, including posing for paparazzi pictures before the Royal Wedding, but says that being frozen out by Meghan and Harry ‘is a punishment which does not fit the crime’. He has apologised repeatedly for the pictures, which included one of him being measured for a wedding suit.
‘I was a fool. I was convinced to do these pictures to change my image. I was sick of seeing schlubby pictures of me buying beer which wasn’t even for me,’ he says.
‘I apologised to Harry on the phone and all he said was, “If you’d listened to me, none of this would have happened.” I did a few things wrong, said a few things I should not have said. But some of the Royals have done far worse things… There are convicts in prisons who have murdered and committed all kinds of horrible crimes, and their daughters still visit them.’
THE LIE: Meghan and her father were never that close.
FACT: Mr Markle has ‘hundreds’ of notes and cards from Meghan, who lived solely with him from the age of 11 until she went to university: ‘People are trying to rewrite history. Meghan and I were as close as a father and daughter could be right up until her wedding to Harry. Then it all fell apart.’
THE LIE: Mr Markle ‘sold out’ his daughter and has been quoted giving his opinion on recent negative stories about her, including that she brought Kate to tears in a row over the bridesmaid outfit for Princess Charlotte at Meghan’s wedding.
FACT: ‘I’m not selling stories. People make things up and my daughter and her husband believe the lies, the one thing they told me never to do. They think I’m giving hundreds of interviews. That’s rubbish. I am not perfect, I made mistakes but my punishment does not fit the crime. Even murderers get visits from their daughters in jail.’
Sitting in a hotel room close to his home in Rosarito, a beach town just across the US-Mexico border, Mr Markle said he has repeatedly reached out to Meghan to try to heal the rift.
‘I have sent several texts. Her number hasn’t changed and they haven’t bounced back,’ he says.
‘I’ve pleaded with her to pick up the phone. I wrote her a two-page letter and sent it by certified mail via her representative in Los Angeles. I asked her why she was believing the lies. I also pointed out the Royals haven’t always been perfectly behaved. I wrote that I’ve never played pool naked, nor have I dressed up as a Nazi [a reference to Harry’s infamous pictures in Las Vegas in 2012 and the time that he wore a crude imitation of a Nazi uniform, including a swastika armband, in 2005].
‘I even hand-delivered a letter to Doria asking her why our daughter won’t speak to me.
They are the words of love from a daughter who clearly adores her father. In a Valentine’s card, Meghan writes: ‘Daddy, Everything you do for me has turned me into who I am and I am so grateful. ‘All I want to do is make you proud… and I promise, no matter what, I’ll do it. Thank you for everything daddy. I love you with all my heart now and forever. Love Bean’ – her childhood nickname
‘Everything has been met with a stony silence. Their silence means people continue to attack me and write lies about me.’
Mr Markle says he has been surprised by a spate of recent negative stories about his daughter that portray her as a petulant diva.
One claimed she reduced a staff member to tears with her 5am demands and another said she wanted to spray air freshener around ‘musty’ St George’s Chapel – a request rejected by the Queen.
Perhaps the most damaging claim concerns an alleged rift between Meghan and Kate, who is said to have been ‘reduced to tears’ by Meghan’s demands over Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid gown and who later, allegedly, reprimanded Meghan for ‘berating’ a member of her staff.
Kate is said to have told Meghan: ‘That’s unacceptable. They’re my staff and I speak to them.’
Meghan’s father says he is baffled by the reports. ‘I don’t recognise this person,’ he says, shaking his head. ‘The Meghan I know was always sweet, kind, generous. She was always demanding but never rude. I don’t want to say or do anything to hurt my daughter but I worry she is going to hurt herself.’
And in a Christmas card, left, showing a colourful llama, she writes: ‘Because you have always been so generous with me… it brings me so much joy to be able to give you this this Christmas. I love you to no end. Meg.’ Inside was a gift of $2,000 for a holiday
Mr Markle, a retired Emmy award-winning Hollywood lighting director, adds: ‘Meghan grew up on set. I taught her to have respect for the crew. They can make you look good or awful. I don’t pretend to know what she’s like now.
‘She bends the rules. She’s good at that. But this acting up is new. She’s never been rude to me before. I can’t believe I’ve done anything severe enough to be treated this way by her.’ Indeed, he believes his bond with Meghan is ‘unbreakable’ – a point illustrated by two cards from his treasured collection.
Meghan trained as a calligrapher and wrote wedding invitations to help support herself through the early days of her acting career, a skill highlighted in her cards to her father, which are written in elegant cursive script.
‘I loved getting cards from Meghan,’ Mr Markle says. ‘She wrote me hundreds of little cards and notes through the years. Sometimes they were for special occasions, other times just little notes she would leave around the house. I’ve still got a Post-It Note on my fridge which says, “I love you Daddy.” I see it every day. I got a card every Valentine’s Day.’ He pulls one Valentine’s card from a manila folder. It shows a picture of a chubby baby holding a daffodil with a touching message: ‘Daddy… I don’t express as often as I should how much you mean to me. Everything you do for me has turned me into who I am and I am so grateful. All I want to do is make you proud… and I promise, no matter what, I’ll do it. Thank you for everything daddy. I love you with all of my heart now and forever. Love Bean’ – a reference to his childhood nickname for her.
Mr Markle suffered two heart attacks, preventing him walking his daughter down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor when she married Prince Harry – who he is yet to meet
Over the years, Mr Markle ‘willingly’ spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his daughter, sending her to private school and even cashing in Facebook shares to help pay for her first wedding.
A Christmas card showing a llama and the words ‘Fa-La-La Llama’ arrived at Mr Markle’s Mexican home just a couple of years ago, by which time Meghan was a successful actress, earning $50,000 (£40,000) an episode on the hit TV show Suits. The card contained $2,000 for him to put towards a holiday. She wrote: ‘Daddy, Because you have always been so generous with me and taken the best care of me it brings me so much joy to be able to give you this this Christmas. I love you to no end. Meg.’
For Mr Markle, the prospect of never speaking to his daughter again is unbearable: ‘I’m hurt by what’s happened but I’m not going to stay silent.
In a wide-ranging interview with Caroline Graham near his home in Mexico, Mr Markle revealed the anguish he feels at the thought of never seeing his daughter again
‘My life has been turned upside down since my daughter met Harry. When they announced her pregnancy I had seven paparazzi on my doorstep night and day for seven days. They rented the house next door.
‘Their treatment of me is harsh, hurtful and unforgiving. I’m being punished for things I didn’t say.
‘I’m trolled on the internet by one guy who sits in his mother’s basement spewing lies about me. Twitter is the worst but I can’t avoid it.
‘I don’t read things but then people send them to me anyway. They say I faked my heart attacks, that I wasn’t at the first wedding. It’s all bull****. Meghan and I never had any problems before this.
‘If she would just speak to me, things could be different. I love Meghan very much. I want her and Harry to have a beautiful, healthy baby and a great life.
‘But I want them to stop believing the lies.’
Does he believe he and Meghan will ever be reunited?
He shrugs. ‘Maybe. Some day.’
‘I was so proud and overcome with emotion to see my baby in a white gown’: Thomas Markle unveils touching photograph that proves he DID go to his daughter’s first wedding but said no to the party bag marijuana
He was reduced to what he calls ‘a footnote in history’ when two heart attacks prevented him from walking his daughter Meghan down the aisle of St George’s Chapel amid the pomp and pageantry of the Royal Wedding in May.
But Thomas Markle did take a starring role at Meghan’s very different first wedding to Hollywood producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, which took place under swaying palm trees on a Jamaican beach, complete with a Caribbean steel drum band and a most unusual welcome gift for the guests.
Mr Markle says he is ‘sick and tired’ of reading erroneous reports that he failed to attend the wedding, which sadly ended in divorce for the couple two years later. He explains that he asked the photographer to ignore him and concentrate on the young people showing off their beautiful bodies in swimwear.
The invitationto Meghan’s first wedding showed her entwined with Trevor on a beach with a beer
‘There are no pictures out there of me at the wedding because it was on the beach and everyone else was in their 30s and I was in my 60s’, Mr Markle said last night, before showing The Mail on Sunday a photograph – published here for the first time. It shows him posing proudly with Meghan just moments before he and his ex-wife Doria walked her across the sand to marry Trevor.
Mr Markle also kept his business-class ticket to the four-day affair, along with an invitation, which featured a picture of a bikini-wearing Meghan on the beach entwined in Trevor’s arms, and a chilled bottle of Red Stripe beer within arm’s reach.
The wedding took place at the famous Jamaica Inn, where Meghan booked all 55 rooms and villas, taking the £1,200-a-night largest villa for herself and her new husband.
‘Meghan planned everything down to the tiniest detail. She took control of everything. I was given a white shirt to wear, as were all the male guests. She micro-managed everything,’ says Mr Markle.
‘The picture was taken when I walked into her bungalow just moments before the ceremony was due to start. I was so proud and overcome with emotion to see my baby in a white gown, looking so beautiful. We took the picture and then Doria and I both walked her down the aisle.
‘Trevor is Jewish and his father, who is a rabbi, conducted the service. But it was not a traditional Jewish ceremony. Meghan read vows she’d written herself.’
Mr Markle said he did take a starring role at Meghan’s very different first wedding to Hollywood producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, which took place under swaying palm trees on a Jamaican beach
There were 100 guests – including the cast of Suits, the TV show in which Meghan starred – for the ceremony on September 10, 2011. In the US, where the month is written first, that results in 9/10/11, a date Meghan chose because it would be easy for Trevor to remember. The guests were welcomed with a gift of a small fabric bag containing a welcome note from Meghan and Trevor along with a small plastic ‘baggy’ of marijuana. Mr Markle says: ‘It’s illegal, but it’s no big deal in Jamaica. It’s almost customary down there. I don’t smoke weed and to the best of my knowledge nor does Meghan. I don’t know what I did with mine. I think I gave it away. I kept the bag and I use it to keep the sea air [at his Mexican beachside home] off one of my Emmys.’ He has won three of the awards, known as the TV Oscars.
Festivities included ‘beach yoga with Doria’ – while she is now well known, she was listed simply as ‘Meg’s mum’ on the invitation.
The Jamaica Inn is famous as the honeymoon designation of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe and her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, and was a regular haunt of James Bond author Ian Fleming. ‘If it’s good enough for Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller… it’s good enough for us,’ read the invitation.
On the day before the ‘beach chic’ wedding, the couple hosted ‘beach Olympics’ featuring the bride’s team versus the groom’s team in events such as tug-of-war and kayaking, followed by a barbecue. That night everyone danced to a reggae band.
Mr Markle, who helped pay for the celebration, is mentioned twice in the wedding literature. He is credited with ‘generously hosting’ brunch on the final day and gets a special ‘thank you’ for his ‘incredible generosity’.
Guests who chose not to stay at the Jamaica Inn were offered alternative accommodation nearby at The Royal Plantation.
The wedding invitation reads: ‘Cheers to love, cheers to laughter, cheers to happily ever after.’ Two years later, the marriage was over.
Thomas Markle neither asked for nor received payment for this interview.
Evidence he did have a heart attack – and what Harry said
Thomas Markle produced piles of medical bills that ‘prove conclusively’ he had not one, but two heart attacks before the wedding of Meghan and Harry.
Mr Markle had the first heart attack the weekend before the ceremony and has documents proving he was in hospital in Mexico for a day and a half. He then felt well enough to drive to Los Angeles to deliver flowers to his ex-wife Doria before being taken ill again when he returned home to Rosarito.
‘The doctors told me I was having a second heart attack,’ he says. ‘I had a blocked artery which they call the widow maker. A friend took me across the border to a US hospital and they saved my life.’
Bills totalling more than a £100,000 show he was discharged from Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in California on May 17.
Prince Harry called when Mr Markle was recovering in hospital and said: ‘If you’d listened to me none of this would have happened’ – referring to the media stories about the faked paparazzi pictures. Mr Markle hung up on Harry but says he regrets this because it started the rift.
Mr Markle shared these documents, including an expensive receipt from a California hospital, as proof he suffered a heart attack
Man up, Harry and heal this rift…before it’s too late
BY TINA WEAVER
Like a wounded bear, Thomas Markle lurches between pain and anger. His only balm the tender words he reads over and over again. The familiar voice of his beloved daughter calling out from between the lines of her immaculate handwritten script.
‘Daddy, I don’t express as often as I should how much you mean to me,’ writes Meghan. ‘Everything you do for me has turned me into who I am and I am so grateful.’
In one of the last notes she sent, just months before she met Prince Harry, Meghan signed off: ‘I love you with all of my heart now and forever. Love Bean’ – her childhood nickname.
Prince Harry severely berated Mr Markle after he posed for photos before the royal wedding – contributing to their rift
Each heartfelt word reveals the true sentiments of a devoted daughter. Meghan’s love for Thomas Markle is as plain as day.
Yet today he is a pariah. At 74, in failing health in his twilight years, he is spending Christmas ostracised by his daughter. Heartbroken, cut off and cast out into the cold by an angry and indignant Meghan.
The irony will be lost on the new Duchess of Sussex, as she fine-tunes her favoured philanthropic causes, that charity, as the saying goes, should begin at home. But to her, Thomas has become an embarrassment and a rolling public humiliation.
Unable to manage and control him, she has pulled up the drawbridge. Behind the castle walls she will not – cannot – be reached. While Thomas feels wounded, Meghan feels betrayed. She is unwilling to climb down from the battlements. Meghan’s Royal ambition is leaving a large and untidy wake.
She has in the past been accused of using people and then quickly moving on up the ladder, never looking back.
It may be harsh to say she’s ‘ghosting’ her father – the fashionable term used when someone cuts off all communication without warning or explanation. Thomas prefers to describe her behaviour as ‘acting up’. But what’s certain is that she has approached her new Royal life at full tilt, head down, powering through.
As Thomas says: ‘She was a control freak but never in a bad way – she was always sweet and kind.’
Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry wasn’t simply falling in love – although that was the main impetus – it was a life transformation of unimaginable proportions.
A girl raised in a series of Los Angeles apartment blocks, who reinvented herself as a successful TV actress, is now reinventing herself as a princess.
Since joining the House of Windsor her personal style has got more regal and refined. She has made sure social issues are front and centre of her public persona, like her high-profile cookbook launch to help Grenfell survivors with mum Doria in tow. And, of course, she plays the Royal wife with aplomb, as we have seen on the couple’s dazzling tour to Australia and New Zealand. She is, as one source says, ‘putting everything into this’. And as Thomas observes, his perfectionist daughter has always liked to micro-manage her life.
Meghan knew her arrival in the Royal circle would be tricky. A divorcee, a woman with history, there was always the chance of a disgruntled ex speaking out.
What no one expected – and what has repeatedly wrong-footed Palace officials – is that it would be her immediate family who would prove to be the headache.
While Doria has been the personification of discretion, Meghan views her father’s meandering outbursts during this critical time as a reminder of where she came from – not where she’s going. And right now, she finds it unforgivable. A post she shared on her old lifestyle blog The Tig gives a telling insight into how she deals with such ‘negative experiences’.
She quoted Portuguese life coach José Micard Teixeira, who wrote: ‘I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.’
This philosophy still drives Meghan’s thinking and has been firmly applied to her father’s behaviour.
From day one she has appeared to play favourites with her parents – Doria got an official Palace scroll announcing their wedding, Thomas didn’t. Doria was formally invited to the nuptials, Thomas wasn’t. And he was very hurt when told he couldn’t make a speech at the reception.
In most family feuds, it takes a third party – a husband or partner – to intervene, break the entrenched positions and tactfully suggest the offer of an olive branch might be the best way forward.
Harry should have been that peacemaker. But headstrong, unworldly and in thrall to his starry, beautiful wife he did nothing to calm the brewing storm.
Rather than respectfully meeting his father-in-law face to face before the couple’s engagement was announced, he chose a quick chat on the phone. Harry – or rather his advisers – had the chance to bring Thomas into the Royal tent before the world even knew Meghan and Harry were a couple. It was a dropped ball that has led us to this point.
When, only days before the wedding, Thomas foolishly agreed to stunt some photographs, Harry was on the phone again, this time to severely berate him. Thomas, recovering from urgent heart surgery and deeply embarrassed by his actions, pulled out of his daughter’s big day. Some Royal insiders suggested he faked the surgery to find an excuse, but, as we reveal today, it actually saved his life.
For Meghan, the joy of her Windsor Castle wedding shared by the world was a chance to put all the unpleasantness behind her. She decided to take a ‘time out’ from her Dad, but neglected to communicate that to him properly. Once again, he felt hurt and slighted and reacted angrily in a live TV interview.
Right now it’s hard to see Meghan giving ground. Just in practical terms she is heavily pregnant, working with interior designers and armed with swatch fabric and paint samples, to redevelop the couple’s new home, Frogmore Cottage, in time for the spring birth. She won’t be jumping on a plane to Mexico to make peace with her father in those circumstances. But with Thomas in ailing health, Harry needs to man up and fix what he inadvertently set off in the first place by failing to show Meghan’s father the necessary respect. Only then will Meghan and her father be reunited.
Time is a great healer – but time is also something that we can never have enough of. Harry and Prince William spoke movingly last year of how they are haunted by their last hurried phone call to their mother, Princess Diana, the evening before she died.
They were eager to get off the phone because they were having such a great time playing with their cousins at Balmoral. Harry said in an interview: ‘I can’t really necessarily remember what I said but all I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.’
It’s a sentiment we have all felt in one way or another. A visit we never made, a call not returned, and suddenly the chance to say what we wanted to say is gone for ever.
Meghan is at heart a good and generous woman who is ambitious and could be critical in the reinvention of the Royal Family for another generation.
But what she cannot be is forever cast as the cruelly unforgiving daughter of a heartbroken and lonely old man.
And Harry holds the key to making sure that doesn’t happen – before it’s too late.