Just days before her big day, Meghan Markle has been confronted with a situation no bride wishes to face.
If reports are to be believed, her father Thomas Markle is reportedly no longer attending the royal wedding, meaning he won’t be fulfilling his role of walking his daughter down the aisle.
The 73-year-old allegedly staged paparazzi photos of himself in the run-up to the ceremony being held at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
Celebrity website TMZ reported that he has pulled out of the wedding because of the embarrassment caused by the photos.
Kensington Palace released a statement on Monday night, saying: “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.”
Thomas Markle and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland were due to meet the royal in-laws before the ceremony at Windsor Castle.
The former lighting director and his ex-wife were due to shave tea with the Queen and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
So, who will walk Meghan down the aisle in her father’s absence?
Interestingly, royal correspondent Richard Fitzwilliam suggests Harry could meet Meghan halfway down the aisle.
“Speculation that her mother Doria might walk her down the aisle, that she might go alone, that Harry might meet her half way or that a member of the royal family might act as a substitute are all rumours,” he tells Yahoo Style UK.
While it’s not clear how this would work logistically – would Harry go back to meet her? Would he just be waiting halfway? Would he have to walk backwards in order to not see his bride?! – it’s an interesting theory.
Fitzwilliam continued: “If possible [Meghan] still obviously wants her father to walk her down the aisle as they share so many memories and it was being on set when she was a child and he was one of Hollywood’s top lighting directors that made her want to be an actress.
“Her father is reclusive and has undoubtedly been unwise in his handling of the photographs. However this is her big day when she marries the world’s most eligible royal bachelor and she naturally wants him to walk her down the aisle.”
While not custom for the bride’s mother to perform the duty, the role might also fall to Meghan’s mother, Doria.
Odds on her giving her daughter away at St George’s Chapel currently stand at 4/6 with Ladbrokes.
Another option would be to have a male friend of Harry and his bride-to-be, someone who they both trust to provide comfort and support to Meghan and take on the important task.
It could also fall to Meghan’s brother-in-law to be, the Duke of Cambridge.
Even prior to reports that Meghan’s father would not attend the wedding, it was thought that the Duke, Harry’s brother, might take on the task.
Meghan and Prince William have bonded since she was first introduced to him and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, when she and Harry first started dating.
While this is an option, it is likely Prince William will be stood beside his brother at the end of the walkway in St. George’s Chapel.
If not, it is thought Meghan’s father-in-law to be, Prince Charles, could walk her down the aisle.
Odds on Prince Charles performing the duty on Saturday are at 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
It wouldn’t be the first time Harry’s father has stepped up to the plate.
In 2016, Prince Charles gave away close family friend Alexandra Knatchbull at her nuptials after her father, Lord Brabourne, was too unwell at the time.
If it isn’t Harry’s father, another option could be Harry’s grandfather, Prince Phillip, though this is unlikely due to his recent health problems.
Finally, there is the chance (albeit small) that Meghan could walk herself down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel.
In what would be a pretty badass move of independence, the royal-to-be might sway from tradition and ‘give herself away’.
Meghan will not be the first royal not to have her father walk her down the aisle.
In 1960, when Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey, her brother-in-law, the Duke of Edinburgh (Harry’s grandfather) was by her side.
Following the death of Margaret’s father, George VI, in 1952, the Duke accompanied her down the aisle and gave her away at the altar.
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