Meghan Markle’s father is to ungergo heart surgery which will stop him from walking his daughter down the aisle, it emerged last night.
After a day of confusion, in which he appeared to change his plans repeatedly, Thomas Markle announced via US celebrity website TMZ that he was due to have an operation and would not attend the Royal wedding on Saturday.
It marked a dramatic turn of events and came just hours after an earlier u-turn, in which he said he would be at the wedding.
The furore began on Monday when the 73-year-old said he would avoid the ceremony for fear of embarrassing his daughter in the wake of a controversy surrounding his collusion with the paparazzi.
However, on Tuesday he raised hopes of attending after all by saying his daughter had been in touch to reassure him, and was prepared to fly to Britain if his medical condition allowed.
Mr Markle is reported to have said: “I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle.”
But within hours he appeared to change his plans for a third time, claiming he required heart surgery after falling unwell again.
He told the site: "They [doctors] will go in and clear blockage, repair damage and put a stent where it is needed."
Playing out via TMZ, the abrupt changes raised further fears for Mr Markle’s well-being.
Royal wedding countdown in pictures as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's preparations begin
Kensington Palace has not commented on any of the claims, repeating only a plea for understanding and respect for Mr Markle.
Meghan Markle, he claimed, harbours “no ill feelings” towards him for the unfortunate episode, in which he was exposed for working with the paparazzi despite Kensington Palace’s repeated insistence that he wished to remain private.
The confusion leaves plans for the royal wedding in further disarray, irreversibly overshadowing the marriage of Prince Harry and Ms Markle.
His inclusion in the wedding was only confirmed for the first time on May 4, with the 73-year-old planning to fly from his home in Mexico to Britain to meet the Queen and all senior members of the Royal Family before the big day.
Instead, on Monday, he disclosed he had pulled out of walking Ms Markle down the St George’s Chapel aisle “because he doesn’t want to embarrass the Royal family or his daughter”.
A Kensington Palace spokesman 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.”
In comments that have not been confirmed or denied by the palace, Mr Markle said his daughter had sent him messages telling him that she loved him and was concerned about him.
It is understood that neither she or her husband-to-be Prince Harry hold him accountable for his decision to work with the paparazzi, believing him to have been placed under intolerable pressure by their presence.
Doria Ragland, Ms Markle’s mother, is flying to Britain, and is expected to meet the Queen this week as planned.
She is expected to be the alternative choice to walk Ms Markle down the aisle.
Meghan's extended family arrive in London - without invites
Meghan Markle's extended family arrived in London with seemingly no invite to the big day.
With the constant speculation over whether or not her father would attend the ceremony, her nephews' arrival with their mother heaps more embarrassment on the American actress, 36.
Tracy Dooley - who was married to Meghan Markle's half-brother Thomas Markle Jr - was pictured at Heathrow Airport with her sons, Tyler, 25, and Thomas, 26.
Ms Dooley has previously told ITV's Good Morning Britain she had not received an invitation to the ceremony at Windsor Castle on Saturday, admitting she had not seen Ms Markle for 20 years.
She is expected to cover the event for an American broadcasting network and said she "will be in the front row cheering them on" in Windsor.
The Dooleys took to Facebook to announce their presence in the capital on Monday evening.
Ms Dooley posted pictures of landmarks, including the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye, writing: "We're here. Yay."
Her son Tyler uploaded an image of the Imperial War Museum, as well as a photograph of the inside of a hotel room.
"Just touched down in London. Man, what a journey so far," he wrote. "We're safe and sound."
Ms Dooley lives in Medford, Oregon, according to her Facebook, but is originally from Calabasas in California.
She is listed as a creative advertising and marketing specialist at Opus Broadcasting - a company responsible for a handful of radio stations, according to its website.
On May 3, she shared a link to her personal blog, saying she was travelling to London to "cover all things Royal wedding".
Upon the family's arrival, the Facebook blog page - called Royal Wedding with the Dooley Markles - posted a picture of the trio landing at Heathrow with the caption: "Just glad to have landed safely and hoping for Tom senior to be well, healthy and happy.
"I wish the same for Meghan, Prince Harry, my children, friends, family and those who need our prayers and love. Peace, love and good works."
In April, the blog's page, which appears to be run by Ms Dooley, shared an article headlined "Meghan Markle snubs nephew and his mum with no invite to Royal wedding."
It was accompanied with the caption: "Beyond blessed to be any part of this momentous occasion. We'll be front and center at Windsor cheering Meghan and Prince Harry on."