Thomas Markle, the estranged father of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has been hospitalised over a suspected stroke.
TMZ, which first broke the story, has stated the 77-year-old former television lighting director was in Tijuana, Mexico when he was rushed into an ambulance before being transported over the border and moved into an American hospital.
In a statement to the British tabloid Daily Mail, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle confirmed their father has been hospitalised and was closely being monitored. “My father is recovering in hospital. We ask for privacy for the family, for his health and wellbeing. He just needs peace and rest.”
The 57-year-old Samantha also hit out at Meghan, adding: “It’s a travesty how much he’s been tortured and how much he’s had to go through thanks to my sister’s disregard the past few years. That is unforgivable.”
According to TV host Dan Wootton, Thomas Markle was scheduled to fly out to London in a week to join in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and join him in a TV special on his GB News show, “fulfilling his long-held wish to visit Windsor Castle.”
Years of estrangement
Thomas Markle first grabbed news headlines ahead of his daughter Meghan’s royal wedding to UK’s Prince Harry in 2018. Thomas was set to walk Meghan down the aisle during the 2018 church ceremony, but dropped out after the British press reported he was paid to pose for photos that showed him getting measured for his wedding suit and making other preparations. Ultimately, Prince Charles walked Meghan down the aisle at the wedding, with Thomas later stating he regretted pulling the stunt.
Meghan later addressed the rift with her father and her half-sister in 2021’s infamous sit-down interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey where she spoke about feeling betrayed when Thomas went behind her back and spoke to the press ahead of her royal wedding with Prince Harry in 2018.
“There was such an obsession about anything in my world, including tracking down my parents. And I did everything I could to protect both of them in that media frenzy,” the Duchess of Sussex told telling Winfrey. “But for over a year, the UK tabloids were trying to find my dad, offering people so much money to try to find his address.
“Once they did, I remember being told there was a huge headline like, ‘We found him’ or ‘We’ve got him.’ You’re talking about someone’s father. And from that point, the tabloids, they moved into the apartment next door and across from him. Descended on this small town, which is giving him gifts. The whole thing brings us to where we are today.”
Winfrey prodded further, asking Meghan whether she felt betrayed by her father after he eventually spoke to the tabloids. Meghan said she did not know if she was comfortable “even talking about that.”
She added: “If we were going to use the word betrayal, it’s because when I asked him, when we were told by the comms team, this is a story that was going to be coming out, which, by the way, the tabloids had apparently known for a month or so and decided to hold until the Sunday before our wedding because they wanted to create drama, which is also a really key point in all this. The tabloids do not report news, they create the news.”
The Duchess of Sussex said her father said he had “absolutely not” been speaking to the press when she called to ask him. “I said, you know, the institution has never intervened for anything for us, but they can try to go in and kill this story. But if they do this once, we’re not going to be able to use that same leverage to protect our own kids one day,” Meghan added.
“So he basically lied to you,” Winfrey said.
Meghan continued saying she offered to help her father if he told them the truth. “He wasn’t able to do that. And that for me has really resonated, especially now as a mother,” she said. “And also me saying just full stop, if we use this to protect you, we won’t be able to protect our own children one day. Well, I’m talking about your grandchildren, so I can’t — I mean, I look at Archie. I think about this child and I go I can’t, I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything to intentionally cause pain to my child.”
The Duchess added that the press “hunted” her mother, Doria Ragland, down as well but she maintained a dignified silence.
Then in July of last year, Thomas told Fox News he has hopes to have a relationship with his grandchildren, Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana, and wants to play a part in their lives, while threatening to take his daughter and Prince Harry to court if he had to.
“I will be petitioning the California courts for the rights to see my grandchildren in the very near future,” Thomas Markle told Fox News, while calling out his daughter and Prince Harry for their behaviour with the British royal family.
“Archie and Lili are small children. They’re not politics. They’re not pawns. They’re not part of the game. And they’re also royal and entitled to the same rights as any other royal,” Thomas added.
Prince Harry and Meghan have had a tumultuous 2021 following their bombshell interview after they spoke about the royal family having concerns over the skin colour of Archie before his birth. The racism charge was coupled with Meghan’s own revelation that she had contemplated suicide during her first pregnancy and had reached out for help but the royal family denied her any assistance.
However, over the past year, the royal family has attempted to mend the rift with Prince Harry and Meghan and the couple is now expected to attend next month’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations with both their children.
It will be the first time the Queen will meet her 11-month-old great-granddaughter Lilibet, who is named after her.