WINDSOR, United Kingdom: Meghan Markle’s father will not be able to walk her down the aisle at her wedding to Prince Harry after all, as he will undergo heart surgery on Wednesday, celebrity website TMZ reported him as saying in the latest dramatic U-turn just days before the big occasion.
Thomas Markle told TMZ he was due to have surgery to repair coronary damage and clear a blocked artery, after reportedly suffering a heart attack a week ago.
Doctors “will go in and clear blockage, repair damage and put a stent where it is needed,” Markle, an Emmy-winning Hollywood lighting director, was quoted as saying.
He had hoped to walk his daughter down the aisle during the meticulously planned ceremony at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel on Saturday,” but now he realizes it’s all but impossible given the upcoming surgery,” TMZ said.
There had been confusion over Thomas Markle’s plans after he apparently changed his mind repeatedly in recent days.
After originally planning to attend, he then decided not to travel from his home in Mexico to spare his daughter embarrassment after a paparazzi scandal where he posed for staged pictures.
On Tuesday TMZ initially reported an about-face from Markle, who said he would try to attend after he had been contacted by his daughter via text—before he revealed once more that his health was preventing him from traveling.
“I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle,” the 73-year-old told TMZ from hospital.
Thomas Markle said his ex-wife Doria Ragland, 61, would be a good choice to walk their daughter down the aisle in his place, according to the website.
Ragland, who has reportedly already arrived in Britain, is expected to spend Friday night with Meghan in a plush hotel before traveling with her by car to Windsor Castle.
US actress Markle, 36, grew up in Los Angeles and remains close with her parents, who divorced three decades ago.
Harry’s Kensington Palace office issued a brief statement that did not mention Markle’s heart drama, but 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.”
The palace could not be reached for further comment.