Thomas Markle calls Prince Harry and his daughter Meghan 'lost souls'
LONDON - Thomas Markle, the estranged father of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, appeared on a British television documentary Wednesday night and said Prince Harry and his daughter are "cheapening" the royal family to make money.
The interview made for uncomfortable watching, and it comes as Harry and Meghan surrender their Royal Highness titles and end their roles as "working senior royals," to seek "financial independence" in new lives split between Canada — where they are now — and Britain.
The hour-and-half-long documentary, "Thomas Markle: My Story," aired on Britain's Channel 5. It showcased Meghan's 75-year-old father venting about his daughter.
"I can't see her reaching out to me, especially now," Markle said. "I think both of them are turning into lost souls at this point."
He said, "I don't know what they're looking for. I don't think they know what they are looking for."
On camera, Markle says he was paid to tell his story to the Channel 5 broadcaster — and threatens to keep selling his story. "I'm going to defend myself and I'm going to be paid for it," he said. "I don't care. At this point they owe me. The royals owe me. Harry owes me. Meghan owes me. For what I've been through, I should be rewarded."
Markle was speaking of being tricked by paparazzi and being defamed as a "big fat slob" and an alcoholic. He suffered a heart attack from the stress, he says, and never heard from Meghan or Harry when he was in the hospital. Not a card, he says. No flowers.
In the documentary, Markle trashes his daughter while proclaiming his love. Many might find it must-see-but-sad TV, on a channel that features "Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly" and "Bad Girls Behind Bars."
Markle, a retired TV lighting director living in Mexico, imagines his own death. "The last time they might see me is being lowered into the ground," said Meghan's father, who has struggled with health problems.
He said Meghan long ago promised him she would look after him in his senior years. "I'm 75 years old," Markle said. "It's time to look after daddy."
The retiree said he lives off $5,600 a month, though he said he did receive $20,000 from Meghan. He said he paid for her university and apartment rentals when she was getting started.
Markle says he has been cast aside by the couple and the palace: "I don't think at this point they're thrilled to see me or want to talk to me."
He confesses that he sold photos of himself to the paparazzi before his daughter's wedding — and is still making money off the images. "Absolutely. Because those pictures will sell forever," he told the broadcaster. He posed for the photographs to better control his image, Markle said.
For many, Markle plays the villain. Others think he has been treated shabbily.
He is, for sure, the dad who won't shut up — despite Meghan's pleas. In a letter leaked to the British tabloids last year, Meghan begged her father to stop talking to the press, saying, "your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces."
The Duchess of Sussex is now suing The Mail on Sunday for publishing the letter. The Mail has responded in court that Meghan assumed her letter would be widely distributed and that her personal life, as a senior royal, was newsworthy.
In the days before his daughter's wedding, which garnered an estimated 1.9 billion viewers, Markle played an offstage but dramatic role, saying he both wanted to come to the celebration and was either too sick to travel to England or not really wanted.
In the end, only Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, attended. Meghan walked solo partway down the aisle before being accompanied by Harry's father, Prince Charles.
In his remarks, Markle suggests that his daughter has thrown a good thing away.
"Every young girl wants to become a princess, and she got that, and now . . . it looks like she's tossing that away for money," he told Channel 5.
Yet Meghan isn't a young girl. She's a 38-year-old, previously divorced, successful American actress, with a new husband and an 8-month-old son.
Her husband is worth an estimated $30 million, inherited from his mother, Princess Diana, and his great-grandmother, the queen mother. Meghan is thought to have made $6 million from her years on the television show "Suits."
What they could earn as financially independent global "influencers" is unknown. Although they will no longer be working royals, they will be expected to conduct themselves in a way that doesn't reflect badly on the royal family.
On the Channel 5 broadcast, Markle refers to the $3 million home renovation done at taxpayer expense for the couple's home in England, Frogmore Cottage, a five-bedroom historic mansion near Windsor Castle.
"Apparently $3 million and a 26-bedroom home isn't enough for them. It's kind of embarrassing to me," said Markle, confusing the number of bedrooms at Kensington Palace, Harry and Meghan's former abode.
In a promotional clip before the show was aired, Markle complained that Harry and Meghan were turning the royal family into "a Walmart with a crown on it."
In remarks before a private audience Sunday night, but promoted on the couple's new SussexRoyal social media sites, Harry said the couple were "taking a leap of faith" in stepping away from their duties as senior royals, but added, "There really was no other option."
Harry said that away from the palace and their royal lives, the couple hoped for "a more peaceful life."
The 35-year-old prince called the news media "a powerful force" that needs to be countered and suggested that intrusions by the press were one of the reasons they chose to quit their royal roles and go to Canada.
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