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Meet the Markles: What's up with the royal in-laws?

Just ahead of royal wedding, we take a peek at Meghan Markle's family

Getty Images
Getty Images

So-called “staged” paparazzi photos? Heart surgery on the very week of the royal wedding? A juicy tell-all? What’s going on with Meghan Markle’s family? Let’s dive in and look at what we know, just as the former “Suits” actress prepares to marry Prince Harry of Wales with the world watching.

Related: Every twist and turn of the last few days of the Meghan Markle family drama, explained

Thomas Markle
What we know

Meghan’s dad, 73-year-old Thomas Markle, has been making headlines as of late for a number of reasons. At last check, he was not planning to attend his daughter’s wedding. Before all the controversy started swirling, Thomas was best known for his various roles in Hollywood (so perhaps this is where Meghan was introduced to the idea of acting?). Throughout his career, Thomas worked as a lighting director on shows that include “General Hospital,” “Married with Children” and “The Facts of Life,” according to his IMDB page. He was nominated for an Emmy award in 1986 for Outstanding Lighting Direction -- and won a daytime Emmy in 2011 for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Drama Series for his work with “General Hospital,” reports say. However, the U.K.-based publication The Sun reported this week that Thomas has recently declared bankruptcy.

Back to the wedding situation, Meghan issued a statement Thursday, confirming that her father would not be coming to the royal nuptials. “Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health. I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.”

Earlier in the week, Thomas was caught staging photos with the paparazzi, as it appeared. He later admitted he looked “stupid and hammy” and then told TMZ he wouldn’t attend the royal wedding. For reference, Thomas was supposed to be the person walking Meghan down the aisle (as in, that was the original plan). He waffled on his wedding decision a few times in the 11th hour, saying he did want to go after all, and then saying he couldn’t come anyway, due to health concerns. Thomas apparently suffered a heart attack recently and said he had to undergo heart surgery this week. Now, Prince Charles is set to walk Meghan down the aisle in Thomas’s place.

Is he attending the wedding?
In a word, no. See above for more (convoluted) details.

Doria Ragland
What we know

Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland, is one of the only family members who isn’t surrounded by controversy. For her career, Ragland has worked at a mental health clinic in Los Angeles and as a yoga instructor. She just recently quit her job at the clinic, but the 61-year-old has talked about wanting to launch a private practice. She and Meghan seem to be very close, based on all accounts and photos. Ragland was introduced to Prince Harry in September of last year at the Invictus Games. Harry reportedly asked Ragland permission before proposing to Meghan. Ragland will travel to the chapel with her daughter by carriage, en route to the wedding ceremony on Saturday.

Is she attending the wedding?
Yes. Ragland was meeting Queen Elizabeth for tea at Windsor Castle on Friday, as final preparations were underway. Ragland met several other members of the British royal family Thursday, Kensington Palace said, ahead of her daughter's marriage to the queen's grandchild and sixth in line to the throne.

She had tea with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall -- Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla -- at Clarence House in London. Later, she met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two older children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, during wedding rehearsals in Windsor.

Samantha Markle
What we know

Samantha Markle, who also goes by Samantha Grant, is Meghan’s half-sister. She’s 16 years older than Meghan, and apparently writing a memoir titled, “The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.” The 53-year-old and Meghan don’t communicate, and Samantha reportedly wasn’t invited to the wedding. She did, however, take responsibility for the publicity stunt involving Thomas Markle (the father she shares with Meghan) and those aforementioned paparazzi photos. Samantha tweeted about the incident, although she has since taken down the posts. Samantha said she thought the photos would benefit Thomas and the royal family, and help put the Markles in a positive light, according to published reports.

Samantha is a Florida resident, mother of three, and a former actress and model. Her IMDB page says she was in “Matlock” in 1986. She lives with multiple sclerosis after a 2008 diagnosis and now uses a wheelchair. Samantha also has claimed that the title of her book is meant to be a play on the tabloids calling Meghan “Princess Pushy” -- not a name that Samantha has bestowed on her half-sister herself.

Is she attending the wedding?
No. Us Weekly said Samantha told the publication that she “would love to go,” but it appears she hasn’t been invited.

In a televised interview, Samantha said: “There are some members of the family who have an air of entitlement about even a wedding invite. I don’t understand why we didn’t get one, but I don’t expect or demand one,” The Sun posted online.

Thomas Markle Jr.
What we know

Thomas Markle Jr., as one might imply based on his name, also shares a father with Meghan, meaning he is a half-brother. The 51-year-old works as a window-fitter in Oregon and is engaged to a woman named Darlene Blount. The pair got into a drunken fight on New Year’s Eve, in an incident that landed Blount behind bars. Thomas Jr. addressed the situation with The Daily Mail, saying, “‘We’ve been under a lot of stress because of all the attention. At some point you find yourself drinking too much to escape the pressure.” Thomas Jr. also has an ex-wife and two sons. He and Meghan are not currently in contact.

Is he attending the wedding?
Thomas Jr. was not invited to the wedding, but his ex-wife and two children were reportedly seen landing in London earlier in the week to make appearances on British outlets to discuss the big day.


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