Meghan Markle’s father Thomas appears to have pulled out of attending her marriage to Prince Harry with just days to go.
It now seems certain he will not be in the country to walk Meghan down the aisle as planned on Saturday.
Reports have surfaced of Mr Markle’s interview with US celebrity news website TMZ from his home in Mexico, saying he had decided not to attend his daughter’s wedding.
It is said the 73-year-old suffered a heart attack two weeks ago, but that is unconfirmed.
A statement released by Kensington Palace yesterday said it was “a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle”.
The shock news follows revelations in the sunday papers that Mr Markle had worked with a press photographer to stage some photos.
They included shots of him allegedly being measured up for a wedding suit – and another where he is sitting at a computer looking at newspaper stories about Meghan.
Another showed him sitting by a window apparently studying a book on British history.
It is reported he explained he did not want to cause further embarrassment to his daughter or to the Royal family by traveling to the UK to attend the ceremony.
But Samantha Markle, Meghan’s half-sister from her father’s first marriage, said she hopes he will still be at Windsor on Saturday.
She told the Good Morning Britain television show that the paparazzi photographs had been taken with “good intention”, and that Mr Markle had suffered a heart attack due to stress.
She went on to say the media had “raked him over the coals and distorted his image”, adding: “He had a moral right to set the record straight and defend himself.”
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.”