Meghan Markle's biggest PR problem still remains her beleaguered father
At the best of times, it’s hard to understand Thomas Markle’s motivations.
After weeks of silence, it seemed as if Kensington Palace finally had Meghan’s father under wraps - it was the longest he’d been out of the news since his daughter’s May wedding - but then, like no time had passed at all, he was back and now, he has receipts.
“Daddy… I don’t express as often as I should how much you mean to me. Everything you do for me has turned me into who I am and I am so grateful. All I want to do is make you proud… and I promise, no matter what, I’ll do it. Thank you for everything daddy. I love you with all of my heart now and forever. Love Bean,” read a handwritten card from Meghan to her father, published in the Mail on Sunday yesterday.
According to the paper, which went out of its way to highlight that he wasn’t paid for the interview, nor was he approached, it’s only Thomas’s fourth interview and everything we believe about him are lies - even when it comes from his own mouth.
It made for captivating reading, especially at a time when public favour is turning so drastically against Meghan, who is being depicted as the Yoko Ono to husband Prince Harry and brother Prince William. Tabloids have gone to great lengths to mirror her against Wallis Simpson and she is being portrayed as an overly ambitious, rude Hollywood diva who, more than likely, didn't know quite what she was getting herself in for when she became a duchess.
Thomas resorted to his usual wallowing and self-pitying, but he did make a convincing argument that at least some of what is accepted as fact simply isn’t. His decision to share private correspondence and personal cards from his daughter as recently as 2015, is an abhorrent abuse of trust, but it was also the evidence needed to disprove the idea that they weren’t so close after all. It also was likely the final nail in the coffin that is their father-daughter relationship, but that seems to be of minimal concern to him.
He says Meghan lived with him in Los Angeles from the age of 11 until 18, when she moved to Illinois to study at Northwestern University. He also claims he helped pay for her first wedding in Jamaica to Trevor Engelson in 2011, at great expense, sharing a picture of the invitation, a faded plane ticket as proof of travel and most importantly for his case, a picture of them together before he and Doria walked her up the aisle.
The reason there are no other pictures?
“It was on the beach and everyone else was in their 30s and I was in my 60s.”
"People are trying to rewrite history. Meghan and I were as close as a father and daughter could be right up until her wedding to Harry. Then it all fell apart,” he said.
At first, it seemed like Thomas was motivated by money and 15 minutes of fame, but the more interviews he does, the sadder it becomes. He’s getting extraordinarily poor advice and it seems at this stage, he genuinely wants contact with his child, but is going about in completely the wrong way. He says that he’s contacted her by phone sending text messages, written to Doria asking for clarity, and still seems genuinely baffled as to why he’s being frozen out.
“They are believing everything negative that has been written about me. So I am reaching out to them, once again, to try to correct the lies and get the truth out there,” he said.
The irony of him saying that people should ignore the concerns that he'll “give away her secrets” in a newspaper article sharing her private writing seems lost only on him. The Sunday story came out days after a bombshell report in The Sun, detailing the breakdown of Harry and William’s brotherly bond, and the stresses put on Meghan in the run up to her big day. Apparently, the decision was made to cut Thomas off after he pulled out of walking his daughter up the aisle claiming he had a heart attack.
“Calm but collected, Meghan decided her team should say nothing publicly and cut him off,” the story reads. “However, William, having lost his mum, couldn’t understand ignoring a parent, whatever they’d done. He thought Meghan was making a mistake. Even Charles, who dotes on Meghan, asked a senior member of his staff to intervene. But the policy stands.”
Her decision to cut him off has been polarising: some say it’s callous to ignore an old man, while others say she is simply protecting herself. At this stage, the easiest solution to Meghan’s PR problem is to reach out to her father, no matter how much it hurts (not to mention gently approaching the idea of an NDA)
Either way, the ‘Thomas Markle Problem’ isn’t going away, so what's the harm in trying a different tactic? A more civil relationship might make for poor headlines, but at least it would spare the public from being used as pawns in what should be a private matter.