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A Royal F*** Up

14 May 2018 | Lloyd Hughes

Thomas Markle has been in the news over the weekend for all the wrong reasons ahead of his daughter’s marriage to Prince Harry this Saturday.

The Mail on Sunday has obtained CCTV stills of Thomas Markle seemingly setting up paparazzi shots of him ‘Googling’ images of the Royal Family and British palaces, as well as getting measured for a suit (involving a 17-year-old stand-in, who wasn’t even a tailor) and other wedding related activities.

At first viewing, the images are endearing. Thomas Markle seems to be doing what any dad would do in his situation (although my eyebrows were raised that he was using an Internet café to do his research). It must be an incredibly nerve wracking position to be in. The eyes of much of the world are set to be on him, and a daughter’s wedding day is no doubt a nervous time for any father – let alone a royal occasion with all the associated pomp.

Mr Markle is seemingly keen to be involved with proceedings, opting, according to reports/snippets of information strategically leaked by the Palace, to walk his daughter down the aisle, while also set to give a traditional after dinner ‘Father of the Bride’ speech.

This is certainly an admirable approach. Were it my daughter’s wedding day I’m sure I’d be keen to do the same, even if it did involve marrying a member of the Royal Family. It is, after all, a chance – if not a once in a lifetime opportunity, then certainly a rare one – to let people know just how proud you are of your progeny.

With the emergence of the paparazzi set up though, a huge shadow has been cast on proceedings.

The whole thing seems bizarre to me. If this was a cynical money making ploy, then how could a father do that to their child? Mr Markle has caused huge embarrassment for his daughter in the run up to possibly the biggest day of her life. The attention is already intense, and this is looking like, if not ruining the wedding for her, then certainly ruining the build-up.

Not a wealthy man by all accounts, you can sympathise somewhat with him seizing the opportunity to earn some money and make his own life that bit easier. But at your daughter’s expense? That’s not the sort of character trait I’d be keen to expose to the world…

At best, he’s been extremely naïve to press manipulation. He might have thought it would do no harm (and was probably told it would endear him to the public, as indeed it did at first) so thought he had nothing to lose in that regard and some good will to gain. But, if that was the case, he should’ve ran it past his daughter first, and Harry too, of course. If she gave it the go ahead then, while it exonerates Thomas to a degree, it does, however, expose Meghan’s naiveté to the level of scrutiny she’s now under.

I’ve blogged previously on how Meghan may have underestimated the Royal spotlight. However, I imagine she probably had no idea her father planned to do it, and I’m absolutely certain there’s no way Harry would agree with it considering his well-documented aversion to the press.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe the whole thing was a setup, including the tip off to the Mail on Sunday. The initial story seems like it was a cynical paparazzi who concocted the idea of staging some photos, knowing full well their value to the press. He could’ve pitched it to Thomas Markle as an easy way for them both to make some money, with no harm done and his reputation actually enhanced as a Father of the Bride taking his responsibilities seriously.

But perhaps the whole thing was in fact a more elaborate sting? It’s been portrayed as some investigative journalism by the Mail, digging around the work of an unscrupulous photographer. Well, I say unscrupulous, however it’s common practice for celebrities to agree to staged photography in a bid to avoid being photographed unawares. This would never have worked in relation to the Royals though. Paparazzi will hound them regardless thanks to the money making possibilities.

If there were deeper levels of deception involved and Thomas Markle was the fall guy in an intricate ‘double’ setup, we’re probably unlikely to find out. The press, admittedly, will go to great lengths to uncover the truth (an aspect which is one of its saving graces in other scenarios), however it seems a tad odd that the Mail on Sunday has sent out reporters to Mexico to find out the truth behind a few seemingly innocuous photos without at least being aware that there was something underhand at play, ripe for exposure. Perhaps the photographer really was unscrupulous and tipped them off himself, recognising an even bigger pay day for his photos.

Regardless, it just goes to underline the ruthlessness of the media. Prince Harry has previously complained about press intrusion surrounding Meghan, as he’s painfully aware from previous experience of the intensity of the glare his family is under.

In any event, it should be a massive wakeup call, that (even if it’s not a full-blown sting) serves as an example of the extraordinary lengths the tabloid press is willing to go to, to get a scoop. Being a celebrity is one thing for Meghan, but being a member of the Royal Family is a completely different scenario. And one that anyone born out of the Royal spotlight probably fails to comprehend until they feel its excoriating heat.

UPDATE: It turns out Meghan’s father was paid for the story, while her sister (who wasn’t invited to the wedding) has taken the blame for advising him that it would be a good thing to do, with Meghan being entirely unaware. He’s also apparently set to miss the Royal Wedding now, having suffered a ‘heart attack’. A sad state of affairs all round.