Harry and Meghan appeal for 'understanding' amid reports father may miss wedding
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have appealed for "understanding and respect" to be given to the American actress' father amid speculation he has pulled out of the royal wedding.
Thomas Markle has been caught up in controversy after he allegedly staged paparazzi photographs of himself in the run-up to the ceremony being held at Windsor Castle this Saturday.
Speculation that Mr Markle will not walk his daughter down the aisle began after a celebrity website claimed he would not attend, following the fallout from the pictures.
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."
Kensington Palace would not comment further.
Ms Markle's half-sister Samantha Markle attempted to shoulder some of the blame when she earlier tweeted it was her idea for Mr Markle to pose for what she described as "positive photos" in a bid to combat his "bad" portrayal in the press, but stated it was not done for money.
The Mail On Sunday newspaper reported the story at the weekend claiming the images were staged and published CCTV footage stills of the US actress' father in the internet cafe with a photographer.
The pictures were published earlier this month in a number of newspapers and news websites showing Mr Markle in a series of royal wedding related activities, apparently unaware he was being snapped.
Mr Markle was pictured being measured for what was thought to be his wedding suit, looking at screen pictures of Ms Markle and Harry while in an internet cafe, and reading a picture book about Britain while having a coffee.
The celebrity website TMZ first reported that Meghan's father had pulled out of the wedding.
The site stated that it had spoken to the US actress' father, saying: "He's now decided not to go because he doesn't want to embarrass the Royal Family or his daughter."
The statement issued by Kensington Palace indicates the concern Harry and Meghan feel for Mr Markle who is likely to be at the centre of intense media scrutiny in the coming days.
The former lighting director was due to meet the Queen with Meghan's mother Doria Ragland in the days leading up to the wedding being staged at St George's Chapel at the castle.
And at the same event he would have been introduced to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Meghan's father met her mother on the set of the US soap General Hospital, where he worked as a lighting director when she was a temp in the studio. They divorced when Ms Markle was six.
Although she lived with her mother in Los Angeles, Ms Markle also spent a great deal of time with her father and is said to be close to him.
There had been much speculation about whether Mr Markle would be involved in the wedding ceremony and his role was only announced by Kensington Palace during a press conference at the start of the month.
If the reports are confirmed, Mr Markle's decision not to attend will not overshadow the wedding but it will dampen elements of the day like the special moment when the father of the bride is expected to play his important role.
Ms Markle's half- sister Samantha Markle earlier tweeted what she claimed was her role in the alleged staged pictures: "The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault.
"The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family.
"We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money."