LONDON — Meghan Markle says her father will not be attending her wedding to Prince Harry, and has expressed hope that he can be “given the space” to focus on his health.
Kensington Palace’s statement Thursday puts to rest days of speculation about whether Markle’s father, Thomas, would walk her down the aisle — as the palace had previously said.
His participation was put into doubt after news site TMZ reported he would not attend because of embarrassment regarding paparazzi photographs. It later reported that he was having heart surgery.
Markle says she would like “to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.”
Harry’s press office initially declined to comment on a celebrity news website’s report that Thomas Markle, 73, needed a heart procedure and would not be well enough to fly to England.
The uncertainty over his health and attendance at Saturday’s wedding came from comments TMZ said the father made exclusively to the site. His condition has not been independently confirmed.
Thomas Markle, a retired Hollywood cinematographer who lives in Mexico, told TMZ he would receive a stent and other treatment for blocked coronary arteries on Wednesday morning.
Stent procedures done on a non-emergency basis typically do not require long hospital stays, but the recovery guidance likely would rule out a lengthy plane trip to England right after surgery.
The bride’s parents divorced when she was a child. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is traveling from Los Angeles to England for the wedding and is scheduled to ride with her daughter to St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle before the ceremony.
Ragland is also scheduled to visit with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William and his wife, Kate, and other senior royals this week. Thomas Markle also had been expected to spend the days before the wedding meeting the queen and other members of his daughter’s future family.
The palace has not announced any alternative plans for Thomas Markle’s role of accompanying his daughter through the chapel to meet the groom.
Some estranged members of Meghan Markle’s extended family have arrived in Britain, but did not receive invitations to the wedding.
Concerns about Thomas Markle’s health overshadowed Wednesday’s announcements of the bridesmaids and page boys who will take part in the ceremony.
The list include William and Kate’s two older children: Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 3.
It is a repeat performance for the two, who were a page boy and bridesmaid when Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton, married last year.
The other bridesmaids are Harry’s goddaughters, 2-year-old Zalie Warren and 3-year-old Florence van Cutsem, and Markle’s goddaughters: Remi and Rylan Litt, ages 6 and 7 respectively, and 4-year-old Ivy Mulroney.
Besides Prince George, the page boys are Harry’s godson, 6-year-old Jasper Dyer, and 7-year-old twin brothers Brian and John Mulroney.
The three Mulroney siblings are the children of Markle’s close friend, stylist Jessica Mulroney, and are the grandchildren of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Some devoted fans of Harry and Markle are already gathering at prime viewing points just outside the imposing walls of Windsor Castle, even though the wedding is three days away.
A few carried signs wishing the soon-to-be newlyweds well, and some carried U.S. flags in honor of Markle’s American roots.
Windsor officials have warned the public that huge crowds are expected in the town on Saturday. Many roads will be closed off and extra security procedures will be put into effect.