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As far as statements go it was definitively benign. Even more so when you consider it came from Thomas Markle.
When Meghan Markle‘s father sent his official congratulations on the May 6 arrival of her first child with husband Prince Harry, his sixth grandkid, his words were entirely devoid of the snark and shade he’s often employed while speaking about the royal family.
“I’m delighted to hear that mother and child are doing well,” he told The Sun in a statement. “I am proud that my new grandson is born into the British royal family and I am sure that he will grow up to serve the crown and the people of Britain with grace, dignity, and honor.
His final remarks on the subject: “God bless the child, and I wish him health and happiness, and my congratulations to my lovely daughter Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry, and God save the Queen.”
Referring to the monarch as a “dusty old crown” this was not.
Having tried lashing out and along with straight up begging his daughter, 37, to heal the rift that has been steadily growing between them since he missed her May 2018 vows, the 74-year-old former lighting director is throwing out a Hail Mary: playing nice.
Because for as many insults as he flung his little girl’s way since she, as he claims, ghosted him after his initial interviews with the press, he never imagined he wouldn’t be privy to this pivotal moment.
“We’ve talked about this quite a bit over the past few weeks and this is actually a really scary subject for him,” Thomas Markle, Jr. shared with The Sun of his father’s slow realization that he may not get the chance to hold court with one Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. “If he were to think he’d never be a part of the baby’s life that would be horrible for him, it would really hurt his feelings a lot. It’s one of his biggest fears and he can’t understand it if it goes that way. He’s hoping for her to open up her arms and unite and obviously he wants to be part of the baby’s life.”
Though Thomas’ public statements were purely positive, making no mention of his desperation to meet his grandson, his kids are here to play bad cop.
Thomas, Jr.’s take seems to be that the arrival of Master Archie (as the title-free newborn will be referred to) should serve as a wake-up call of sorts to Meghan about the importance of relatives. This, of course, ignoring the fact that she still remains exceptionally tight with mom Doria Ragland, the one person in her brood who has not spoken out about her despite being courted by Oprah Winfrey of all people.
In a perfect world, he continued, the whole lot of them would have been invited across the pond to pile into her London hospital suite. “She should let the family come over and meet the new baby,” he said. “Usually that’s what happens—everybody crowds into the hospital room to see the new addition to the family—we’d love that. I think everybody should be invited over to see the new baby. Hopefully she won’t be unfair and withhold him from everybody.”
That appears to be Samantha Markle‘s take as well. The duchess’ estranged half-sister, known for labeling her as “incredibly rude” and akin to Cruella de Vil, initially offered well-wishes via DailyMailTV, saying, “Family is family. What I think is incredible is that it’s a great moment historically and although the adults have a lot of water under the bridge, I would really like to see everyone reach out.”
But soon after, she got back on message.
Telling The Mirror she rang a forlorn Thomas to inform him new photos had been released of Archie meeting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip alongside Meghan, Harry and Ragland, she said, “It’s sad. He should have been involved. Being excluded is like a dagger through his heart.”
Worse yet, she continued, it’s little Archie, whom she’s determined has the signature “Markle nose”, that’s missing out by “not getting to know a creative, loving person.”
And Meghan isn’t the only one she took to task. With Ragland on hand at the couple’s Windsor pad, Samantha feels the yoga instructor and social worker should have done more to encourage a father-daughter reunion. “She could have said, ‘Get your dad out here.’ But sadly there seemed to be a lack of effort,” she assessed. “I think everyone’s been hoping Doria and Meghan would have an epiphany, but I don’t know if it will ever happen.” (Samantha, of course, needs no invitation, telling the paper that she will be sending a christening gift: a photo album filled with pictures of the Markle side of the family: “There’s a connection and we exist.”)
Despite few signs a thaw is imminent, Thomas doesn’t seem ready to fully give up just yet. As recently as December, he said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, “I’m certainly hoping that everything goes well and that they produce a beautiful baby and I’ll get to see a little Meghan or a little Harry. That would be very nice. I look forward to that happening…I’m hopeful. I think it should happen. I think she’ll make a great mom, and I think maybe things will soften a little bit and we’ll connect again.”
Yui Mok/PA Wire
This, of course, was pre-Lettergate, the chapter in the father-daughter saga that just might sever them for good. It all began when five of the former actress’ closest companions, fed up with watching strangers bully their friend for sport, defended her in a People magazine cover story this February.
The Meghan pals shared their truth, including one big revelation. Three months into their feud, one that began with Thomas’ regrettable decision to attempt to improve his public image by teaming with a paparazzo and quickly spiraled from there, Meghan sent him a note essentially asking him to maintain a stiff upper lip around the press. “She’s like, ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimizing me through the media so we can repair our relationship,'” a close friend shared with the magazine. “Because every time her team has to come to her and fact-check something [he has said], it’s an arrow to the heart.”
As a response, the friend continued, “He writes her a really long letter in return, and he closes it by requesting a photo op with her. And she feels like, ‘That’s the opposite of what I’m saying. I’m telling you I don’t want to communicate through the media, and you’re asking me to communicate through the media. Did you hear anything I said?’ It’s almost like they’re ships passing.”
Feeling that his daughter’s friends were attacking him, and had received her express permission to do so, Thomas responded by…releasing the exact note they had mentioned, feeling it would somehow vindicate him.
“The letter was presented in a way that vilified me and wasn’t true,” he explained to the Daily Mail, which printed select excerpts of the five-page missive. “It was presented as her reaching out and writing a loving letter in the hope of healing the rift, but the letter isn’t like that at all. Meghan can’t have it both ways. She can’t use the press to get her message across but hang me out to dry. I have the right to defend myself.”
Sure, but that right came at a cost. By exposing the letter, perhaps the only remaining piece of Meghan’s private life he hadn’t yet offered up to the media, he showed his hand—how eager he was to defend his own reputation at the cost of his daughter’s happiness.
Add in the fact that by the time Meghan penned the missive, he’d already granted three increasingly hostile interviews where he transitioned from speculating about how miserable she appeared to poking fun at the in-laws that had warmly welcomed her into the fold to openly taking credit for everything she’d accomplished (“She’d be nothing without me,” he told the Daily Mail. “I made her the Duchess she is today. Everything that Meghan is, I made her,”) and, well, you can see why Meghan might not be ready to have him over for tea.
Sources told Vanity Fair that in sharing the letter with one of his go-to media outlets, the exact thing Meghan requested he stop doing, Thomas had more or less dashed any chance that he might one day repair his relationship with his youngest child. While a source says Harry is “angry” and “upset” that his father-in-law continues to speak to the press, Meghan is simply “at her wit’s end.”
She’s far from the only one continuously baffled by his behavior. While the average person without a Markle surname can understand why the royal has kept her dad at arm’s length for fear anything she conveys to him will find its way on to the Internet, she received a voice of support from a surprising source following Archie’s arrival.
In two separate interviews with the Daily Mail and The Mirror, Thomas’ first wife, Roslyn Markle, mom to both Samantha and Thomas Jr., broke years of silence to share why she felt Meghan shouldn’t bother reaching out. Labeling Thomas as a largely absentee father and husband, she told the Daily Mail that he never met his two eldest grandchildren—Samantha’s daughter Ashleigh Hale, 34, and son Chris Hale, 32—and has had limited contact with Samantha’s younger daughter, 21-year-old Noel Rasmussen, and Thomas Jr.’s kids Thomas Dooley III, 27, and Tyler Dooley, 26.
“Yes, [Archie] is his grandchild,” she allowed to the paper, “but considering that he’s got five others that he doesn’t really have a relationship with…two of them he’s never even seen.”
Compounding this mess even more, the grandchildren in question seem to be Team Meghan leans, largely horrified by their elder relatives’ approach to being monarchy-adjacent.
“My dad and aunt are crazy. I feel terrible for Meghan. Me and my brother Tyler have nothing to do with our dad,” Thomas III told The Mirror. “His behavior since Meghan and Harry started dating has been completely appalling. I just want people to know I have nothing to do with it and just apologize to her.”
For his part, Thomas strongly denies his ex’s claims, telling The Mirror, “These accusations about my relationship more than 40 years ago with my first wife are not valid. None of them. If you have questions ask my children. Take note that both Samantha and Tom Jr left their mother and came to live with me.”
Still, Roslyn is resolute in her stance. “Knowing Tom as I do, Meghan would be a fool to have him in her life,” she insisted to The Mirror. “Archie deserves to be brought up in a happy home, not in this vengeful situation that has been created.”
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
For now, Meghan is limiting guests to the non-controversial variety. Having spent the first week of Archie’s life hunkering down as a family of three, they’re now accepting visitors. Prince William and Kate Middleton swung through Windsor on Tuesday while Harry’s father Prince Charles was expected to drop by Thursday. (In a nod to the importance he places on his late mom’s kin, Harry invited Princess Diana‘s older sister Lady Jane Fellowes over for one of the earliest visits.)
And of course Ragland has been on hand since Easter weekend, bunking with the new mom and dad at Frogmore Cottage. Noting they “love” having her around, a source told Us Weekly, “She is so level-headed and just what a set of new parents need to keep them calm and give them great advice.”
And, fortunately, as Meghan’s family drama approaches the one-year mark, the couple have become quite adept at blocking out that noise as well. It’s a job made even easier by a newborn son, he of the sweet temperament that’s caused Meghan to gush that parenting is “magic.”
Even as her relatives trade jabs across the British papers, the two remain in their new parent cocoon. “Harry and Meghan are truly in baby bliss right now,” the source summed up. “It is a life they’ve both dreamed of and now they get to live it.”