Meghan Markle’s father Thomas will walk her down the aisle when she marries Britain’s Prince Harry, a royal spokesman announced, despite claims from her half-brother that she had snubbed her family.
Thomas Markle and the bride-to-be’s mother Doria Ragland, who divorced three decades ago, will arrive in Britain in the week before the May 19 wedding to “spend time” with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.
They will also meet Harry’s father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, ahead of the ceremony at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
“Both of the bride’s parents will have important roles in the wedding,” the spokesman said.
“On the morning of the wedding, Ms Ragland will travel with Ms Markle by car to Windsor Castle,” he added. “Mr Markle will walk his daughter down the aisle.” Thomas Markle Junior, the half-brother of the US actress, has accused the couple of shunning her side of the family, writing in an April 26 open letter that “it’s not too late” for Harry to call off the wedding.
“As more time passes to your royal wedding, it became very clear that this is the biggest mistake in royal wedding history,” wrote the 51-year-old.
He and his sister Samantha Grant say they have not been invited to the wedding. “I guess we’re all distant family to Meg,” wrote Tom Jr.
Diana’s family to share in wedding joy
The siblings of Princess Diana will look on as their beloved nephew Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle.
Taking their seats in St George’s Chapel, Earl Spencer, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes will represent a link to Harry’s late mother. Lady Jane will give a reading at the ceremony, Kensington Palace announced on Friday.
Both sisters read poems at Diana’s funeral, while Earl Spencer gave a controversial eulogy which was seen as an attack on the royal family. He vowed to Diana in his speech that her “blood family” would do all they could to protect the Duke of Cambridge and Harry “so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition but can sing openly as you planned”. Earl Spencer is the youngest of Diana’s siblings, with Lady Sarah being born nine months after their mother, Frances Roche, later Frances Shand Kydd, married Edward John “Johnnie” Spencer in 1954.
Three years later Jane was born. She would become Lady Jane Fellowes after marrying the Queen’s former assistant private secretary, Robert Fellowes. Diana was born in July 1961, followed three years later by brother Charles, who went on to become Earl Spencer.
It was Lady Sarah who introduced Diana to the Prince of Wales, having briefly dated Charles in the late 1970s.
Footage of William, 15, and Harry, 12, walking behind their mother’s coffin was beamed to the world.
Last year Earl Spencer claimed he was “lied to” about the brothers’ desire to do so.
He said walking behind Diana’s coffin in the funeral cortege was the “most horrifying half-hour of my life”, but that he believed the experience was a “million times worse” for Diana’s sons.
Announcing the attendance of his maternal aunts and uncle on the big day, Kensington Palace said Harry was “keen to involve his mother’s family in his wedding”.
No chief bridesmaid
Markle, 36, will not be having a maid of honour.
“She has a very close-knit group of friends and did not want to choose between them,” the royal spokesman explained.
Her bridesmaids and pageboys will all be children.
Asked when the public would see the newlyweds kiss — often the defining image of British royal weddings — he remained tight-lipped, saying: “I have no comments on kissing”.
Some 2,640 members of the public have been invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle, and will arrive from 09:00am (6pm AEST) for the midday (9pm AEST) service, the royal spokesman said.
Harry and his fiancee, who will spend the eve of the wedding apart, will come face-to-face with the crowds outside the grounds during a 25-minute carriage procession through Windsor after the service.
Food stalls and giant screens will line the procession route, and the town centre will be decorated with bunting and ceremonial banners.
The couple will join the 600 wedding guests for a reception at the castle after the procession, departing later in the day for an evening reception for 200 at the nearby Frogmore House.
The newlyweds will not be going on honeymoon straight away, but will carry out their first engagement as a married couple the week after their wedding.