As Meghan Markle’s father looked increasingly unlikely to be walking her down the aisle on Saturday, Kensington Palace announced details of those who would definitely be accompanying the bride.
Princess Charlotte, aged three, and Prince George, four, have been chosen for starring roles as part of the bridal retinue of six bridesmaids and four pageboys.
Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, 61, is also reportedly en route to London, and will meet the Queen and senior royals before Saturday, when she will possibly accompany her daughter to the altar of St George’s chapel, Windsor.
Thomas Markle Sr, 73, is reportedly undergoing heart surgery on Wednesday, according to the US celebrity website TMZ through which, after months of silence, the retired TV lighting director now appears to communicate.
After Kensington Palace announced the role of the father of the bride on Sunday, it was reported the next day that he would miss the ceremony, due to his embarrassment over being caught “staging” paparazzi pictures of himself.
On Tuesday it was claimed he did not want to miss the wedding after his daughter reached out to him. But later that day he was reportedly set to undergo heart surgery on Wednesday.
Kensington Palace has not commented on whether Markle Sr is still expected. It is likely the ceremony, which has been meticulously planned over months, is undergoing some last-minute adjustment.
The palace has, however, confirmed the bridesmaids and pageboys. In addition to Charlotte, who is Harry’s niece, the bridesmaids are: his goddaughters, Zalie Warren, two, and Florence van Cutsem, three; Markle’s goddaughters, Remi and Rylan Litt, who are sisters aged six and seven respectively; and Ivy Mulroney, aged four. Along with Harry’s nephew George, the pageboys are: his godson, Jasper Dyer, six, and Brian and John Mulroney, both seven. Ivy, Brian and John are the children of Markle’s close friends the Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney and her TV host husband Ben, whose father is the former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.
Also in the UK – though not at the chapel – are members of Markle’s extended family. Tracy Dooley, who was once married to Markle’s half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr, flew into Heathrow on Monday with their two sons, Tyler, 25 – who reportedly works as a cannabis farmer in Oregon, where marijuana is legal and plans to create a hybrid called Markle’s Sparkle – and Thomas, 26, a fast-food chain restaurant manager.
Dooley has reportedly been signed as a special correspondent for ITV’s Good Morning Britain. She has previously told the programme she has not seen Markle for two decades.
Markle Sr, who lives in Mexico, reportedly told TMZ he had a heart attack last week. The website revealed on Tuesday that he would have surgery on Wednesday afternoon. He has reportedly attributed his health issues to stress.
His daughter and Prince Harry are understood to be distressed and concerned about his wellbeing. Kensington Palace has asked for him to be afforded understanding and respect.
Samantha Markle, Markle Sr’s daughter with his first wife, has said the stress of dealing with media intrusion has put him under immense pressure. The Mail on Sunday alleged he had colluded with a Los Angeles photo agency over pictures of him being measured for his wedding suit, working out and looking at reports of the wedding on a computer at an internet cafe.