THE Markle family have been thrust into the spotlight as a result of Meghan’s upcoming wedding to Prince Harry.
Here’s everything you need to know about Thomas W Markle Sr, the father of the woman about to marry the sixth in line to the throne…
Instagram Meghan Markle shared a cute throwback photo of her father on social media
Who is Thomas W Markle, where is he from and what does he do?
Thomas W Markle, the father of the actress Meghan Markle, is of Dutch-Irish origin, and was born in 1945.
He is a former television lighting director working on iconic US shows including Married with Children and General Hospital.
In 2011 he won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Drama Series for his work on General Hospital, a long-running US soap.
He was married to Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, in 1979 – but they divorced in 1987.
Getty Images – WireImage Meghan Markle was first romantically linked to Prince Harry in 2016
Will Thomas Markle walk Meghan down the aisle?
After some uncertainty, it was confirmed that Thomas would walk his daughter down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry on May, 19.
Thomas planned to make the trip from Mexico, where he is spending his retirement, to attend the wedding and had been spotted looking up the latest on the happy couple online.
However, on May 14, it emerged he had been struck down by a heart problem and pulled out of the ceremony after realising he might be too ill to make the trip.
The bombshell revelation came as he admitted he was paid to pose for paparazzi pictures sold to news outlets worldwide.
Meghan’s mother Doria will also attend the wedding along with Meghan’s best friends Jessica Mulroney and Lindsay Roth.
In a further twist Thomas then told TMZ that he DID want to attend the wedding – although admitted his doctors might not let him travel due to recent health scares.
He said: “I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle.”
However, the US outlet later reported that his hopes were in vain, with Meghan’s dad set to undergo heart surgery.
Reportedly admitting that his attendance on the big day was now “impossible”, he said: “They [doctors] will go in and clear blockage, repair damage and put a stent where it is needed.”
When did Thomas Markle meet Prince Harry and does he like him?
According to reports, Prince Harry met Meghan’s father Thomas during a trip to Canada – and was won over by the Prince after he started dating his daughter in 2016.
“He first met Prince Harry about six months ago out in Toronto,” Meghan’s brother told The Mail Online in January 2017.
“He’s pretty happy about Harry and he’s extremely proud of her. They have an amazing relationship, they’re very close and they always have been.”
Although there were rumours of a rift between the Markles and the royal family, Thomas has praised his future son-in-law and insisted he and Meghan are a “very good match”.
How does Meghan describe her father, Thomas?
It is clear from social media updates that Meghan has a lot of love for her father.
“Happy Father’s Day, daddy. I’m still your buckaroo, and to this day your hugs are still the very best in the whole wide world,” the star wrote on Instagram in 2016 – sharing a throwback snap of her with her father when she was a baby.
“Thanks for my work ethic, my love of Busby Berkeley films & club sandwiches, for teaching me the importance of handwritten thank you notes, and for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you xo -Bean,” she added.
Although there were rumours he would be blanked from an invite to the wedding after Meghan decided against asking half-brother Thomas Jnr and half-sister Samantha, it has been revealed that he has been invited – and he will beat his shyness to walk her down the aisle.