Meghan Markle’s estranged father has spoken out about his daughter and son-in-law’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, suggesting that an alleged racist comment about Archie could have been “just a dumb question”.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Thomas Markle also reacted to the Duchess's comments about suicidal thoughts, as well as the birth of her son Archie.
The Duchess did not have her father by her side as she walked down the aisle of St George's Chapel and she has brought legal action against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), the publisher of Mail on Sunday, which published a letter she wrote to her dad after the wedding.
Meghan’s complex relationship with her estranged father has made headlines since she and her husband, Prince Harry, announced their wedding date.
So, who is Thomas Markle, why doesn’t Meghan speak to him, and what did he say about the Oprah interview??? This is what you need to know.
Who is Thomas Markle?
Thomas Wayne Markle Sr. is a retired American television lighting director and director of photography.
In 1975, he received a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence: Non Performers for his lighting design work the Made in Chicago programme.
He has also been the co-recipient of two Daytime Emmy Awards.
In 1964, he married student and secretary Roslyn Loveless and the pair welcomed two children, Samantha and Thomas Markle Jr. before they divorced in 1975.
Following his first marriage, Markle married Doria Ragland in 1979 and Ragland gave birth to their only child, Meghan, in 1981. The couple divorced in 1987 or 1988.
Meghan Markle is estranged from her father.
Mr Markle made headlines in 2018, on the run up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding - and did not attend the royal wedding that May.
Why did Meghan fall out with her father?
Mr Markle had not been close with Meghan for several years before her wedding and her father had made comments about his daughter to the press - which she had not authorised.
He then staged paid photographs for paparazzi in the US, weeks before her wedding and denied this to Harry.
Mr Markle later admitted that he had been paid for the photos, though his daughter Samantha told the press it was her idea and she wanted to show how her dad was “getting into shape and doing great healthy things” before attending the wedding.
Two weeks before the wedding he underwent surgery on his heart, which was thought to be a contributing factor as to why he was not at the wedding.
However, it has since been revealed that he had not confirmed to Meghan whether or not he would be there and it was only a few days before the wedding that US publication TMZ confirmed that he would not attend as he did not want to “embarrass” his daughter any further.
Thomas Markle then went on to tell Good Morning Britain about his relationship with Meghan in the months after the wedding and continued to be paid for interviews with UK media publications.
In July 2018, he told The Mail on Sunday that his daughter would be nothing without him, and that he had “made her the Duchess she is today.”
Does Meghan speak with her dad now?
In the much-anticipated Oprah Winfrey interview which aired in the UK on 9 March, Meghan said she found it difficult to discuss her father’s actions, adding: “I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything to intentionally cause pain to my child.”
Mr Markle has not spoken with Meghan since her wedding but has said he “hopes to reconcile” one day.
In February 2021, Meghan won a court case against the Mail on Sunday for publishing a letter she had written to her father in the days after her wedding.
In the letter, she told her father he had “broken [her] heart into a million pieces”, Mr Markle described it to the Mail on Sunday as a “stab to the heart” for him, not “an olive branch.”
During the court case, it was claimed Mr Markle could testify against his daughter in court - as a witness for The Mail.
He has since said on record that he thinks his youngest daughter is "tossing away every young girl's dream of becoming a princess, for money", and that she and Harry are "destroying and cheapening" the royal institution.
How did Thomas Markle respond to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah?
Harry and Meghan took part in an intimate interview with US talk show host Oprah Winfrey, which aired in the UK on 8 March.
Following the interview on the morning of 9 March,, Thomas Markle appeared on ITV’s breakfast show, Good Morning Britain via video call.
He told hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid that he did not think the comments by a member of the royal family about Archie’s skin colour - alluded to in the Oprah interview - were actually intentionally racist.
Mr Markle told GMB: “The thing about what colour would the baby be, how dark would the baby be, I’m guessing and hoping it’s just a dumb question from somebody. It could just be that simple, it could be somebody asked a stupid question, rather than being a total racist.
He added: “I have great respect for the royals and I don’t think the British royal family are racist at all. I don’t think the British are racist.”
He also confirmed he had not spoken with his daughter since the wedding.
The royal family have not yet responded to the interview. It is thought that the Queen is presiding over what the statement should say.
There have been reports that the royal family prepared a statement in preparation for the Oprah interview being released, highlighting the family’s love and concern for the couple, but it was not signed off by the Queen.