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Less than a week from the big day, and Meghan Markle is dealing with some serious Royal Wedding drama. As in, her father is no longer attending the ceremony, even though he was slated to walk her down the aisle. According to TMZ, this decision came after both a heart attack, and after the iconic paparazzi images of him reading a book about England were revealed to have been staged, as well as a number of other images taken by photographers. He apparently does not want his presence to embarrass Markle on her special day.

“This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding,” the Palace said in a statement about Thomas Markle’s absence. “She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”

The tension appears to stem from a larger drama involving the children from Thomas Markle’s marriage to Roslyn Markle, whom he was with before Markle’s mother, Doria Radlan (Markle’s father and Radlan later divorced in 1988). Aside from making a number of negative statements about Markle in the press, her stepsister Samantha Markle reportedly encouraged her father to take the staged photos.

“The bad press over my father… 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,” she wrote in a now-deleted tweet according to the Daily Mail. “We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money.”

While there’s no reason to believe there’s any current animosity between Markle and her father — when she was 18, she said they weren’t “on the best of terms” in a home video — she has remained publicly close with her mother in a way she has not with him. In her first interview with Prince Harry, Markle said that her fiancé has “talked to [her] dad a few times. He hasn’t been able to meet him just yet.”

Radlan, however, was photographed spending time with the couple at the Invictus Games in October, and Prince Harry described her as “amazing” in the couple’s first interview.

The last thing anyone needs before their wedding is family drama, so let’s hope Mr. Markle’s absence gives his daughter the peace she deserves.

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