Meghan Markle's Father Breaks Silence, Calls Staged Paparazzi Photos 'a Mistake'

Meghan Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry
Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

Meghan Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry attend The Prince of Wales' 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration at Buckingham Palace in London on May 22, 2018. 

Meghan Markle's dad, Thomas Markle, is opening up about his daughter's relationship with Prince Harry and apologizing over staged paparazzi shots that backfired and led to his skipping his daughter's wedding.

In what Good Morning Britain is billing as his "first ever interview," which aired Monday morning in the U.K., Thomas revealed how Meghan told him she was dating a prince.

"The first phone calls were, 'Daddy, I have a new boyfriend, and I said, 'That's really nice,' and the next call was, 'He's British,' and I said, 'That's really nice,' and eventually the third time around was, 'He's a prince,' and at that point she said, 'It's Harry,' and I said, 'Oh Harry. OK.' 'Of course, we'll have to call him "H" so no one knows we're talking about Harry,'" he said of how they kept the relationship under wraps.

Thomas also spoke about how Harry asked for his permission to marry Meghan.

"Actually, Meghan told me first ... then the few times after that, Harry got on the phone with Meghan, they called me together, and Harry asked for her hand over the phone and I said, 'You're a gentleman. Promise me you'll never raise your hand against my daughter, and of course I give you my permission," Thomas said.

Thomas did not attend the May 19 wedding. He bowed out after he suffered a heart attack and made headlines for his decision to have staged paparazzi photos taken of him preparing for the wedding, according to TMZ.

"That was a mistake," Thomas told the U.K. morning program on Monday of the decision to take part in the staged photos. He said the photos were an attempt to "change my image" after being taking in a series of "derogatory" photos that included him "buying a toilet" and taking out the garbage that made him "look negative."

"I thought it would be a nice way of improving my look well, obviously that all went to hell. I feel bad about it. I apologized for it," he said.

He also told Good Morning Britain that he "absolutely to wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle." (Watch clips from the interview at the end of this story.)

Ahead of the wedding, Harry and Meghan  requested "understanding and respect" for Thomas.

"This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding," the palace statement said. "She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation."

The palace had previously announced before the nuptials that Thomas and his ex-wife, Doria Ragland, would play important roles in the wedding. Both were expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals in the days before the wedding. Prince Charles, Harry's father, ended up walking Meghan down the aisle.

Thomas and Ragland divorced when their daughter was 6 years old, but they both played an active role raising her. Thomas spent many years supervising the lighting and camera crew for the Married ... With Children television show and often brought young Meghan to the set at Sunset Gower Studios. Since retired, he has been living in Mexico.

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