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Meghan's mother Doria is favourite to walk actress down the aisle

  • Doria Ragland is a 'good choice' to give Meghan away, says her father Thomas
  • Prince Charles and Prince William could step in or star, 36, could go it alone
  • Friends said the bride-to-be is distraught over Thomas Markle's decision
  • The 73-year-old said he wanted to save his daughter further embarrassment
  • Harry, 33, is said to be 'devastated' that Meghan's father is set to miss wedding
  • It comes after the Mail on Sunday revealed Mr Markle colluded with paparazzi

By Rebecca English Royal Correspondent For The Daily Mail and Martin Robinson, Uk Chief Reporter For Mailonline

Published: 06:13 EDT, 15 May 2018 | Updated: 07:37 EDT, 15 May 2018

Meghan Markle's father has said her mother should walk her down the aisle instead after he pulled out of the wedding at the last minute.

Thomas Markle believes his ex-wife Doria Ragland would be a 'good choice' to give their daughter away at St George's Chapel, Windsor, after his shock decision not to fly to the UK.

Meghan is said to have pleaded with her father to change his mind after he apparently pulled out of Saturday's wedding because of the faked photographs row.

But the troubled 73-year-old wants to stay in Mexico following reports that he colluded with a paparazzi photographer to stage a series of pictures in the run-up to the wedding and claims to have suffered a heart attack.

Doria is about to fly into the UK from Los Angeles to support her daughter and is now the clear favourite to walk her down the aisle in her father's absence.

Prince Charles is 2/1 with the bookies to step in while Prince William is 5/1 to take Meghan into St George's before starting his duties as Harry's best man.

There have also been a flurry of bets on Meghan walking down the aisle alone.  

Doria, pictured with her daughter in March 2015 has now emerged as the front runner to walk her down the aisle on Saturday
Doria, pictured with her daughter in March 2015 has now emerged as the front runner to walk her down the aisle on Saturday

Doria, pictured with her daughter in March 2015 has now emerged as the front runner to walk her down the aisle on Saturday

Meghan Markle (pictured left) pleaded with her father Thomas Markle (pictured right) to walk her down the aisle after he apparently pulled out of Saturday's wedding
Meghan Markle (pictured left) pleaded with her father Thomas Markle (pictured right) to walk her down the aisle after he apparently pulled out of Saturday's wedding

Meghan Markle (pictured left) pleaded with her father Thomas Markle (pictured right) to walk her down the aisle after he apparently pulled out of Saturday's wedding

Mr Markle said that he did not want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family (Meghan and her father circa 2000)
Mr Markle said that he did not want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family (Meghan and her father circa 2000)

Mr Markle said that he did not want to embarrass his daughter or the royal family (Meghan and her father circa 2000)

Doria with her daughter Meghan at the Invictus Games closing ceremony
Doria with her daughter Meghan at the Invictus Games closing ceremony
Prince Harry and Meghan
Prince Harry and Meghan

Doria, (left, with her daughter) has been keeping a low profile ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding (the couple, pictured right) 

Friends said the bride-to-be was distraught after troubled Thomas Markle, 73, said he wanted to save her further embarrassment, following reports that he colluded with a paparazzi photographer to stage a series of pictures in the run-up to the wedding.   

Who will give Meghan away after her father changed his mind?

Doria Ragland - 4/6 

Prince Charles - 2/1 

Prince William - 5/1

Meghan Walks Solo down the Aisle 5/1

Thomas Markle 10/1

Gabriel Macht 14/1  

Prince Philip 20/1 

Prince Harry 33/1 

Kate Middleton 100/1

Last night he told TMZ Meghan's mother should be the person to do it.

Doria has been keeping a low profile over recent weeks in the run up to Saturday's nuptials, and has been photographed out and about near her home in Los Angeles.

So far there has been no official announcement on who will now be walking Meghan down the aisle.

But according to TMZ Thomas believes Doria, who enjoys a close relationship with her daughter, should now be the one to give her away.

The yoga instructor and social worker has been described by Meghan as a 'free spirited clinical therapist' and she has been seen alongside Meghan at a number of public events.

Prince Harry, who has described her as 'amazing' flew Doria out to Toronto to join Meghan and himself at the Invictus Games last year.

Royal experts said at the time that Harry's decision to invite Meghan's mum to join them at the closing ceremony of his Invictus Games was 'hugely significant.'

Doria was already expected to have an 'important role' during the ceremony. It is thought she will ride with Meghan in the car to the chapel in Windsor Castle.

She is also expected to meet the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince William and his wife Kate before the big day.   

Thomas, 73, said money was not a motivating factor  and had instead hoped to recast his image in the wake of previously unflattering paparazzi pictures (Meghan and Prince Harry last month)
Thomas, 73, said money was not a motivating factor  and had instead hoped to recast his image in the wake of previously unflattering paparazzi pictures (Meghan and Prince Harry last month)

Thomas, 73, said money was not a motivating factor and had instead hoped to recast his image in the wake of previously unflattering paparazzi pictures (Meghan and Prince Harry last month)

Thomas is seen on surveillance video entering an internet cafe with photographer Jeff Rayner to set up staged photos
Thomas is seen on surveillance video entering an internet cafe with photographer Jeff Rayner to set up staged photos

Thomas is seen on surveillance video entering an internet cafe with photographer Jeff Rayner to set up staged photos

Meghan wouldn't be the first to be given away by a woman at a royal wedding 

If Meghan Markle's mother does walk her down the aisle it won't be the first time it has happened.   

Queen Victoria gave away her youngest child Princess Beatrice at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight in 1885.

She wore black to remember her husband Prince Albert who had died 24 years earlier, although her outfit is believed to have been encrusted with diamonds.  

Royal historian Victoria Howard told the BBC: 'I think it would be a lovely touch for Meghan's mother Doria to walk her down the aisle.

'It would be unusual but it wouldn't be an unprecedented move. Queen Victoria walked two of her daughters down the aisle'.  

A friend of Miss Markle, 36, and her fiancé, Prince Harry, told the Mail that she was standing by her father and pleaded for understanding, saying he was 'not in a good place'. 

The friend said: 'This is not what she wants. She obviously wants her dad there. And the idea of contemplating him not being there now is not something that she wants to have to do.

'She and Prince Harry are begging for people to give him some space. They have been saying this for weeks, while trying to offer him support and help. He is clearly feeling under immense pressure. The concern for him is real and genuine.

'He is a proud man who wants to be a father and not be taken care of, but it's quite difficult. Everyone needs to pause and think what this is doing to them and, more importantly, to him. It is a really worrying, scary situation. The couple have been doing everything they can to help him.' 

Harry, 33, is said to be distraught and could try to get Thomas to change his mind.

The friend said: 'Harry feels guilty that this has happened to someone he loves because they are in a relationship with him.

'He is devastated. He feels like this is another thing in the wake of him... the problems he causes. He feels that anyone who gets associated with his life – this is the price they have to pay.

'He wants to protect her and this is really difficult for him to swallow.'

Meghan will now be accompanied by only mother at the wedding (Doria Ragland with Prince Harry and Meghan in September)
Meghan will now be accompanied by only mother at the wedding (Doria Ragland with Prince Harry and Meghan in September)

Meghan will now be accompanied by only mother at the wedding (Doria Ragland with Prince Harry and Meghan in September)

'There's no way he is not going': Thomas Markle's grandson believes Meghan's father will change his mind about pulling out of royal wedding 

Thomas Markle's grandson says his grandfather is 'broken' but expects he will attend Saturday's Windsor wedding.

Meghan's father has thrown the event into chaos after pulling out at the last minute.

Mr Markle says he had a heart attack and is suffering chest pains. 

He says he will not walk her down the aisle to save her further 'embarrassment'.

But his grandson Tyler Dooley, 25, has spoken to him and believes he could change his mind.

He told The Sun: 'There is no way he is not going to go to that wedding. That is his daughter and she loves him more than anything in the world.

'He had a pretty big health scare. He said he plans to get the care and help he needs after the wedding which told me that he was going'.

The couple issued an unprecedented official statement through Kensington Palace in the wake of the crisis.

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

US gossip website TMZ claimed to have spoken 'on the record' to Miss Markle's father, who confirmed he had worked with the freelance photographer to set up images of him being measured for his wedding suit and searching online for articles about his daughter.

He said he did it to 'rehabilitate' his image but had been left looking 'stupid and hammy' – and would not be travelling to the UK to give her away in order to spare her further embarrassment. 

Kensington Palace was clearly broadsided by the claims as aides had insisted on Sunday that Mr Markle would be by his daughter's side at Windsor Castle this weekend. TMZ further claimed that Mr Markle – a former award-winning Hollywood lighting director who lives a reclusive life in Mexico and has yet to meet his future son-in-law – confirmed he had been offered money by US-based freelance photographer Jeff Rayner.

But he insisted the 'deal' was not 'principally' about money. Instead, he wanted to 'rehabilitate' his image after pictures had been published of him looking overweight and dishevelled.

Thomas Jr previously told DailyMail.com his father was 'struggling' ahead of the wedding
Thomas Jr previously told DailyMail.com his father was 'struggling' ahead of the wedding

Thomas Jr previously told DailyMail.com his father was 'struggling' ahead of the wedding

HOW MEGHAN'S BIG DAY WAS UPENDED: TIMELINE TO THOMAS MARKLE'S DECISION TO STAY AWAY

TUESDAY MAY 8: On Monday May 14, Thomas Markle Sr claims he suffered a heart attack six days ago - making it either Tuesday or Wednesday May 8 or 9. He claims he checked himself out of hospital in order to attend the royal wedding. Markle Sr was at his home from Sunday 7 onwards and was not seen leaving it at any time 

WEDNESDAY MAY 9: Markle leaves his Mexican home at 8.30pm. He checks into the Rodeway Inn in San Ysidro, just across the U.S. border, and shops at a nearby 7-11. He is seen purchasing Gas X medication, a milkshake and a bottle of Heineken

THURSDAY MAY 10: At 4.10am Markle drives 135 miles to his property in Los Feliz. He picks up mail at UPS before stopping in to CVS to buy his former wife Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother, a card and returning home. He is later photographed purchasing two Happy Meals and a creamy drink at a McDonalds drive-thru. He also bought a large pot of flowers for his estranged wife from a Home Depot 

Later that afternoon, he is pictured dropping off the flowers and card at Doria Ragland's home. He is then pictured picking up KFC close to the Mexico border as he returns to his Mexico home

FRIDAY MAY 11: Markle remains in his Mexico home

SATURDAY MAY 12: Markle remains in his Mexico home

SUNDAY MAY 13: The Mail on Sunday reveals that Markle has been staging paparazzi photos of himself in the run up to the royal wedding - the photos have raised north of $110,000. Markle remains in his Mexico home 

MONDAY May 14: Markle announces he will not attend his daughter's wedding or walk her down the aisle. According to TMZ, he admitted to staging paparazzi photos in the run up to the wedding. Sources say Kensington Palace was blindsided by the decision. In a statement they say is is a deeply personal matter for Ms Markle

The website wrote: 'He says since his daughter started dating Prince Harry he's been offered anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 for interviews and he's turned all of them down. 

'Thomas says the paparazzi agency approached him, offered him money – though nowhere near the reported $100,000 – and he figured there was no harm in it and it would help recast his image. 

'He admits the pics look 'stupid and hammy'. He says he was just going along with the paparazzi agency, which he now deeply regrets.' 

The website continued: 'Meghan's father will not be walking her down the aisle on Saturday... he isn't going to the wedding at all because of the fallout over selling photos of himself.'

Mr Markle also told the website that he had suffered a heart attack six days ago but checked himself out of the hospital so he could attend the wedding.

There was no independent confirmation that Mr Markle had been ill, however.

Indeed, last week he was seen leaving his home in the beachside community of Rosarito, Mexico, and driving to San Diego, just over the US border. 

According to reports, he stopped for a few hours' sleep and then carried onto LA where he was photographed putting a pot of flowers on the doorstep of his ex-wife, Doria Ragland – Miss Markle's mother.

To add to the confusion, Mr Markle's daughter, Meghan's estranged half-sister Samantha, claimed that she was 'the culprit' behind the humiliating photograph debacle.

In a bizarre intervention, Samantha said she had advised her father to co-operate with the photographer to show himself – and, strangely, the Royal Family – in a 'positive' light. She also insisted his motive hadn't been money.

One source told the Mail that Mr Markle was 'very unwell', adding: 'He is under significant stress.

'There is genuine concern about his safety. His health and safety are paramount [to Meghan]. He is under a huge amount of pressure.'

If Miss Markle's father is not at the wedding, it is believed Miss Ragland will walk her down the aisle.

Thomas Markle admitted to staging  paparazzi photos (pictured) with an agency for money
Thomas Markle admitted to staging  paparazzi photos (pictured) with an agency for money

Thomas Markle admitted to staging paparazzi photos (pictured) with an agency for money

Meghan Markle's father 'claims he has not spoken to his daughter since pulling out of wedding after suffering fresh chest pains following heart attack' 

Meghan Markle's father claims he has not spoken to his daughter since pulling out of her wedding and says he is 'popping Valium' after suffering chest pains.

Thomas Markle says he suffered a heart attack six days ago and is feeling unwell again after his shock deal with a paparazzi photographer was revealed.

The 73-year-old will reportedly no longer fly to London because he wanted to save Meghan further embarrassment after it emerged he 'staged' wedding-related photo shoots for cash.

Last night he told TMZ Meghan's mother Doria Ragland would be a 'good choice' to walk her down the aisle at St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Saturday.

His daughter and Harry are said to be heartbroken by his decision and will try to change his mind but Mr Markle has claimed his daughter is yet to speak to him.  

Two days after his heart attack, Thomas was seen at a McDonald's drive-thru were he purchased a Happy Meal and a cold drink
Two days after his heart attack, Thomas was seen at a McDonald's drive-thru were he purchased a Happy Meal and a cold drink

Two days after his heart attack, Thomas was seen at a McDonald's drive-thru were he purchased a Happy Meal and a cold drink

Thomas then went to a KFC hours after he stopped by McDonald's on Thursday (above)
Thomas then went to a KFC hours after he stopped by McDonald's on Thursday (above)

Thomas then went to a KFC hours after he stopped by McDonald's on Thursday (above)

In an extraordinary interview he called out his eldest daughter, Meghan's half-sister Samantha Markle, who has repeated attacked the star and yesterday claimed she was 'to blame' for her father's 'posed' photos.

The father of the bride told TMZ: 'I've been popping Valium for the pain, especially when I hear about my oldest daughter.'  

Mr Markle is said to have suffered a heart attack last week and more chest pains yesterday. 

But DailyMail.com revealed yesterday that  that Meghan's father did not seek medical attention on the day of his heart attack, and was instead inside his clifftop home in Rosarito the entire day.

Two days later he was seen grabbing two Happy Meals and a frosted beverage at a McDonald's drive-thru before later stopping at KFC and emerging with a bag packed with food.  

On Monday night Markle told TMZ that he was said to be considering a trip to hospital after suffering new chest pains but it is not clear if he went.  

Kensington Palace are said to have bee completely blindsided by his decision not to walk his daughter down the aisle and had not been informed of Thomas' change of heart prior to the publication of his TMZ interview. 

Piers Morgan brands Meghan Markle's half-sister a 'little vulture' after she took the blame for her father's staged paparazzi photos - as she says she hopes he will still go to royal wedding

Piers Morgan today called Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister a 'little vulture' and accused her grabbing money by 'trashing' the Suits star for years.

Samantha Markle appeared on Good Morning Britain and was accused of 'trading off her very tenuous connection' with Meghan, who she hasn't seen for ten years.

In an explosive exchange Mr Morgan asked her: 'How much money have you made from trashing Meghan Markle? to which Samantha replied: 'Not very much'.

Ms Markle said she had encouraged her father to do a deal with paparazzi claiming he had been treated 'shabbily' by the media.

But Piers went on the offensive and said: 'There's no bigger media vulture in this wedding than you. You are doing a book called the 'Diary of princess pushy's sister'. 

Samantha replied that a 'book cannot be judged by its cover or by its title'.  

Piers Morgan today called Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha (right) a 'little vulture' and accused her grabbing money by trashing the Suits star for years
Piers Morgan today called Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha (right) a 'little vulture' and accused her grabbing money by trashing the Suits star for years
Piers Morgan today called Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha (right) a 'little vulture' and accused her grabbing money by trashing the Suits star for years
Piers Morgan today called Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha (right) a 'little vulture' and accused her grabbing money by trashing the Suits star for years

Piers Morgan today called Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister Samantha (right) a 'little vulture' and accused her grabbing money by trashing the Suits star for years 

Samantha Markle, pictured with her famous half-sister in 2008, has said it's her fault their father agreed to appear in staged photos on the eve of the royal wedding
Samantha Markle, pictured with her famous half-sister in 2008, has said it's her fault their father agreed to appear in staged photos on the eve of the royal wedding

Samantha Markle, pictured with her famous half-sister in 2008, has said it's her fault their father agreed to appear in staged photos on the eve of the royal wedding

She also confirmed that her father has pulled out of Saturday's wedding but she hopes he will change his mind.

She said: 'I spoke to him early in the morning and he was quite depressed'.

When asked if he might change his mind she said: 'I hope so. I wanted to see him go [to the wedding]. I don't know as of today what he's plans are but I want him to go. Clearly the priority is whether it's safe for him to do that. 

Yesterday claimed that she was 'the culprit' behind the embarrassing 'faked' photographs of their father taken in the run-up to this week's royal wedding.

Samantha, Thomas Markle's daughter by his first marriage, said she advised him to co-operate with a US-based paparazzo photographer in order to show himself - and, strangely, the royal family - in a 'positive' light and insisted his motive hadn't been money.

But she could not confirm whether Mr Markle had actually accepted any payment for his collusion for the stunt. Mr Markle later told TMZ he had.

Ms Markle told GMB: 'He was unfairly present in the media as shabby, I think photographer looked for the most unflattering photographs. 

'My father has really suffered at the hands of the media. I think a person has a right to say 'enough is enough, I wasn't to be shown how I really am'.

But Piers hit back and said he was a 'grown man who knew what he was doing'.

He said: 'You say this is all the media's fault, because the media has been treating him in shabby way, viewers will look at the way you've treated you sister Meghan and think that you treated her in a shabby way

'You've spent the last two years criticising her, you called her narcissistic, selfish, that Hollywood has changed her and that Prince Harry shouldn't marry her, yet you have the gall to blame media vultures.

'You've made loads of money off the back of a tenuous link to Meghan Markle, who you've spoken to once in 10 years. You've been trashing her for two years you vulture'.

Samantha said she had not used those words to describe Meghan and Piers said 'we have all the transcripts'.  

Harry and Meghan are said to be heartbroken by his decision and will try to change his mind with just four days until their wedding
Harry and Meghan are said to be heartbroken by his decision and will try to change his mind with just four days until their wedding

Harry and Meghan are said to be heartbroken by his decision and will try to change his mind with just four days until their wedding

Yesterday she confirmed photographs taken of an apparently unwitting Mr Markle getting fitted up for his wedding suit and browsing pictures of his daughter on the internet had actually been taken in collaboration with a professional photographer, despite Kensington Palace issuing strongly worded requests for the media to protect his privacy.

Speaking from her home in Florida to ITV's Loose Women programme in London, his eldest daughter, Samantha, said: 'I have to say I am entirely the culprit. As we know the media can take very unflattering photographs of people on their casual days and blow it way out of proportion.

'I said, you know, [to him] the world has no idea you're getting in shape, doing healthy things.

'They don't photograph you buying vegetables and PH water. They photograph you as unflattering ways as they can.

'So I said, really you need to show the world that you're getting in shape and doing great healthy things. So I suggested it.

'There's a lot of scrutiny that it was money motivated, it was not. It was my suggestion that to benefit him and to benefit the royal family that everyone looked good and they depict you as you are - in shape and doing healthy things.'

Asked if she could categorically say he did not receive money for the photographs, Samantha floundered slightly, saying: 'I don't believe so and that was not the motive. I have no idea but if he did I'm going to assume it was a pittance. They don't pay that much. It was really so that the world could see him doing the healthy things he enjoys doing.'

Asked whether she could understand how embarrassing the revelations were for Kensington Palace and her sister, particularly given their stance on protecting his privacy, she conceded that it would be 'awkward' but felt that his treatment by the media had been 'unjust' and 'somehow we could spin it...'

She also tweeted: 'The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault. The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family. We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money'

Despite posting a string of vitriolic tweets attacking her younger sister, Samantha also insisted that she was not bitter about Meghan's decision not to invite her to Saturday's wedding. The pair haven't actually seen each other for around a decade.

Revealed: Harry and Meghan will stay at separate £1,500-a-night hotels before the wedding with her at former stately home linked to the Profumo affair and him the polo club where pair shared first public kiss

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will spend the night before their wedding at separate luxury hotels close to Windsor Castle in rooms costing up to £1,500-a-night, it was revealed today.

Prince Harry will stay at the luxurious Coworth Park in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on Friday, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei's Dorchester hotel group.

The venue is a 15 minute drive from St George's Chapel and Prince William will also stay the night to support his brother, Kensington Palace has said, but is not known if Kate and their three children will also be there.

The duke and prince play regularly on Coworth Park's world class polo grounds, which are managed by Guards Polo Club, and last year Meghan watched her then boyfriend play on the pitch.

Meghan will stay at Cliveden House Hotel, on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, with her mother Doria, where rooms including the aptly named Prince of Wales suite can cost £1,500-a-night.

Prince Harry will stay at the Dorchester Collection's Coworth Park (pictured) in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on Friday, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei
Prince Harry will stay at the Dorchester Collection's Coworth Park (pictured) in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on Friday, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei

Prince Harry will stay at the Dorchester Collection's Coworth Park (pictured) in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on Friday, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei

Harry and his brother will enjoy sumptuously furnished bedrooms like this on the night before walking down the aisle

Meghan will stay at Cliveden House Hotel (pictured), on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, with her mother Doria. It was owned by Lord Astor and his family until it was bought by investors in 2012
Meghan will stay at Cliveden House Hotel (pictured), on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, with her mother Doria. It was owned by Lord Astor and his family until it was bought by investors in 2012

Meghan will stay at Cliveden House Hotel (pictured), on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, with her mother Doria. It was owned by Lord Astor and his family until it was bought by investors in 2012

Cliveden House hotel in Taplow, Berkshire, can cost £445-a-night for a Club Room like this one but suites cost £1,500
Cliveden House hotel in Taplow, Berkshire, can cost £445-a-night for a Club Room like this one but suites cost £1,500

Cliveden House hotel in Taplow, Berkshire, can cost £445-a-night for a Club Room like this one but suites cost £1,500

Cliveden famously hosted the 1961 summer party where John Profumo would meet Christine Keeler and launch the affair that almost destroyed Harold Macmillan's Tory government.

Its gardens still has the same outdoor pool where Christine was sunbathing when the Secretary of State for War first saw her - and it is still known as 'The Profumo Pool'.

She will then make the 25 minute journey to Windsor. Her father Thomas had been expected to be with her before yesterday's bombshell revelation that he would not attend the wedding.

The Cliveden House website describes how the hotel has hosted 'powerful personalities, debaucherous parties and scandalous affairs' for more than 350 years. 

Cliveden proudly describes how the hotel has hosted "powerful personalities, debaucherous parties and scandalous affairs" for more than 350 years
Cliveden proudly describes how the hotel has hosted "powerful personalities, debaucherous parties and scandalous affairs" for more than 350 years

Cliveden proudly describes how the hotel has hosted 'powerful personalities, debaucherous parties and scandalous affairs' for more than 350 years

Its grand grounds includes the outdoor pool where Profumo met Keeler and started a brief affair that cost him his reputation and career and enjoys beautiful views of the Berkshire countryside
Its grand grounds includes the outdoor pool where Profumo met Keeler and started a brief affair that cost him his reputation and career and enjoys beautiful views of the Berkshire countryside

Its grand grounds includes the outdoor pool where Profumo met Keeler and started a brief affair that cost him his reputation and career and enjoys beautiful views of the Berkshire countryside

Christine Keeler shown at the pool where she was sunbathing when the Secretary of State for War first saw her. It has been refurbished and is still known as 'The Profumo Pool'
Christine Keeler shown at the pool where she was sunbathing when the Secretary of State for War first saw her. It has been refurbished and is still known as 'The Profumo Pool'

Christine Keeler shown at the pool where she was sunbathing when the Secretary of State for War first saw her. It has been refurbished and is still known as 'The Profumo Pool'

The pool is pictured today at the Cliveden House Hotel, on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, where Meghan will stay
The pool is pictured today at the Cliveden House Hotel, on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, where Meghan will stay

The pool is pictured today at the Cliveden House Hotel, on the National Trust's Cliveden Estate, where Meghan will stay

Former Secretary of State for War John Profumo is pictured with his film star wife Valerie Hobson, who stood by him after his resignation from the Conservative government in 1963 over his affair with Christine Keeler
Former Secretary of State for War John Profumo is pictured with his film star wife Valerie Hobson, who stood by him after his resignation from the Conservative government in 1963 over his affair with Christine Keeler

Former Secretary of State for War John Profumo is pictured with his film star wife Valerie Hobson, who stood by him after his resignation from the Conservative government in 1963 over his affair with Christine Keeler

It was built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham as a gift to his mistress.

What was the Profumo affair and how was it linked to the Cliveden House Hotel?

The Profumo affair had it all - sex, lies and espionage. It broke at the height of the Cold War, when spying was rife and the threat of war was imminent with the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Here we look back at how the scandal unfolded:

April 1960: At the height of the Cold War, Christine Keeler, having left her home in Wraysbury, Berks, heads for London and begins working at Murray's Cabaret Club in Soho. It is there that she meets Dr Stephen Ward, a London osteopath. Within weeks she had moved into his Bayswater flat. She soon meets Mandy Rice-Davies at Murray's and the pair become party companions.

July 1961: Ward introduces 19-year-old Keeler to Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, while at a party thrown by Lord and Lady Astor at their stately home in Cliveden at Taplow, Bucks. Keeler and Profumo embark on an affair lasting only a few weeks. At the same time, she becomes involved in an affair with Commander Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché at the Russian Embassy in London.

March 1963: After months of speculation among MPs, Profumo is forced to face the Commons, where he says: 'There was no impropriety whatever in my acquaintance with Miss Keeler and I have made the statement because of what was said yesterday in the House by three honourable members whose remarks were protected by privilege.' 

June 5, 1963: Profumo resigns his Cabinet post after admitting lying to the House of Commons about the nature of his relationship with Keeler. 

December 1963: Keeler is found guilty of perjury in a related trial and imprisoned for nine months. 

The privately owned Grade 1 listed stately home is surrounded by 376 acres of National Trust grounds.

Coworth Park in Ascot describes itself as the 'scenic route to five-star bliss,' so it would appear Harry could be having a sedate night before his wedding.

The hotel's website adds: 'Coworth Park offers idyllic relaxation in many guises, from a rural detox to an indulgent, romantic escape.

'Here you'll find an experience to refresh every sense within our welcoming oasis of calm.'

The accommodation once featured in the popular TV talent show X Factor, and William and Harry are likely to know the hotel well as the royal brothers play on its polo grounds every year.

Judge Cheryl Cole, who was joined by Will.i.am from Black Eye Peas, was filmed at the 70-bed hotel when selecting the females to go through to the live finals in 2010.

The duke and prince play regularly on Coworth Park's world class polo grounds, which are managed by Guards Polo Club, and last year Meghan watched her then boyfriend play on the pitch.

The restaurants and bars of Coworth Park will be closed to the public from May 17 to May 21. Both hotels said rooms were unavailable online for this weekend, but it is unclear if any members of the public are staying or will be allowed to book.

MailOnline has contacted Coworth Park and Cliveden House for clarification and comment.

Today it emerged the couple will will attend a garden party marking the Prince of Wales' 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration - just days after their wedding - delaying their honeymoon.

Harry and Ms Markle will join Charles and Camilla at the event on Tuesday May 22 at Buckingham Palace.

Clarence House said: 'The event will celebrate The Prince of Wales' Patronages and Military affiliations as well as others involved in charities supported by The Prince.'

A number of cadets and emergency services personnel who were first responders after the bombing at the Manchester Arena on May 22 2017 will also attend the garden party.

Prince William will also stay the night to support his brother, Kensington Palace has said. It is not known if his wife and children will stay over at the hotel they often play polo at with friends
Prince William will also stay the night to support his brother, Kensington Palace has said. It is not known if his wife and children will stay over at the hotel they often play polo at with friends
As Harry's love affair with Meghan emerged the prince was seen kissing her between parked cars surrounding a polo pitch at Coworth
As Harry's love affair with Meghan emerged the prince was seen kissing her between parked cars surrounding a polo pitch at Coworth

Prince William (pictured left) will also stay the night to support his brother, Kensington Palace has said. As Harry's love affair with Meghan emerged the prince was seen kissing her between parked cars surrounding a polo pitch at Coworth (right)

Coworth Park in Sunningdale, Berkshire, is owned by the Sultan of Brunei and is considered one the world's most luxurious hotels

Rooms come with giant bath tubs with views of the rolling countryside, including this grand copper roll top
Rooms come with giant bath tubs with views of the rolling countryside, including this grand copper roll top

Rooms come with giant bath tubs with views of the rolling countryside, including this grand copper roll top

Harry could relax in this candle-filled room with giant 'Love' during the stay but the hotel says they will not reveal what room he will sleep in 
Harry could relax in this candle-filled room with giant 'Love' during the stay but the hotel says they will not reveal what room he will sleep in 

Harry could relax in this candle-filled room with giant 'Love' during the stay but the hotel says they will not reveal what room he will sleep in 

How do Harry and Meghan's hotels compare? Five-star Coworth Park and Cliveden House go head-to-head

Coworth Park 

Marquee room: The Mansion House Premium Suite 

Room facilities: Minibar, fresh flowers, bottle of chilled Laurent-Perrier champagne on arrival, copper roll-top bathtub, Bang & Olufsen television and polo field views.

Price: From £1,200 - £1,500 a night

Spa: Complete with atmospheric indoor pool, private sun terrace and spacious eucalyptus-infused steam room

Breakfast: Full English with Coworth Park sausages, Baron Bigod and bacon toasted croissant, grilled Manx kippers, waffles with caramelised banana and Scottish oat porridge.

Extras: Polo at Coworth Park and the Equestrian Centre are both open to hotel and non-hotel guests. 

Owner: Coworth Park is owned by the Sultan of Brunei's Dorchester hotel group.

History: William and Harry play regularly on Coworth Park's world class polo grounds, which are managed by Guards Polo Club, and last year Meghan watched her then boyfriend play on the pitch.

Cliveden House 

Marquee room: The Prince of Wales suite 

Room facilities: Decorated with antiques and original works of art, handmade king size bed, views over the Parterre and access to the honesty bar.

Price: Around £1,500 a night

Spa: Bespoke body treatments, acupressure and anti-ageing techniques, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, squash courts, gymnasium and hot tubs

Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the André Garrett restaurant

Extras: Boat picnics on the Thames, Champagne cruises and flotilla lunches. 

Owner: Cliveden House is a privately-owned Grade I listed stately home. It was built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham as a gift to his mistress

History: Cliveden famously hosted the 1961 summer party where John Profumo would meet Christine Keeler and launch the affair that almost destroyed Harold Macmillan's Tory government. 

 

It will be Harry and Ms Markle's first official engagement as a married couple.

The couple spent their final weekend together before the big day at a hideaway cottage in the Cotswolds.

The pair hunkered down at the four-bedroom lodge, which is nestled in a wooded areas of the north Oxfordshire countryside.

Refurbishments have been made to make the leased-out love nest fit for purpose, with motion alarms and cameras set up in the surrounding area.

It is believed that Meghan, 36, is a particular fan of the secret retreat and the picturesque views the couple can see from the kitchen's large window.

A source told The Sun: 'The run-up to the wedding has been quite stressful for them and they just wanted to get away and relax before the big day.

'They like to escape to the country for the weekend and the cottage is just perfect for them.

'It's very private, has a vast open-plan kitchen and dining area for Meghan to cook in and lots of large windows for the stunning views.'

 

 

So if poor Mr Markle isn't going to give Meghan away, who will?

by Richard Kay

There will be nothing but sympathy for Thomas Markle today. Certainly that will be the main emotion as the shock of his reported decision to pull out of the royal wedding and not give his daughter away at Windsor on Saturday is absorbed.

Ever since Meghan's relationship with Prince Harry first emerged to near universal delight, her father has conducted himself with a quiet dignity; unfamiliar with the relentless spotlight of publicity, he has been content to largely remain in the background.

Samantha Markle claimed it was her idea for Thomas Markle to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shots to show him and the royal family in a positive light
Samantha Markle claimed it was her idea for Thomas Markle to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shots to show him and the royal family in a positive light

Samantha Markle claimed it was her idea for Thomas Markle to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shots to show him and the royal family in a positive light

Other members of his family – his son and daughter by his first marriage for example – have seized the opportunity to speak of their younger half-sibling, often thoughtlessly and sometimes with cruelty. 

Tom Markle did none of these things. But then, as the finishing line at St George's Chapel where he was due to walk Meghan up the aisle was visible, he chose to enter into a reckless arrangement that appears to have had shattering consequences. 

At the weekend, it was reported that he had staged paparazzi photographs in exchange for money – though that was not his principal motive. He had, naively it must be said, hoped that choreographed pictures might rebalance the image the world had of him as some sort of bumbling semi-recluse.

Instead the outcome has been one of humiliation for him.

Samantha Markle said it was her idea for Thomas Markle to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shoots where he lives in Mexico
Samantha Markle said it was her idea for Thomas Markle to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shoots where he lives in Mexico

Samantha Markle said it was her idea for Thomas Markle to be photographed in a series of royal wedding shoots where he lives in Mexico

Queen's stamps of approval 

Stamps featuring Harry and Meghan are going on sale to celebrate the wedding. The Royal Mail has produced a special set of four stamps showing two of the couple's engagement portraits and bearing Saturday's date.

The images for the souvenir miniature sheet were taken by New York-based photographer Alexi Lubomirski at Frogmore House in Windsor in December. Lubomirski, who has described the couple as being 'so deliciously in love', has also been chosen as their official wedding photographer. The stamps will be released on Saturday morning.

Harry and Meghan personally approved the set, while the Queen had the final say. The 1st class stamp shows the couple at Frogmore House where they will have their evening reception. The £1.55 stamp is a more informal black and white image showing Meghan with her arm through Harry's as they walk through the grounds.

She is wearing a gown by Ralph & Russo who are reported to have been chosen to make her wedding dress.

So it must have been with an unbearably heavy heart that he made his sudden and totally unexpected announcement. He is reported to have said that he cannot embarrass the Royal Family or his beloved daughter on her wedding day and that the solution is to stay away.

But his decision to do so will strike a chord with people everywhere. Weddings are so often fraught affairs, even royal

ones. Days before she married Prince Charles, Lady Diana Spencer wanted to back out – only to be told by her sisters that it was too late because her face was already on the souvenir tea towels.

Even so, Mr Markle's absence will cast an unfortunate and inevitably regrettable pall over this weekend's ceremony. Some will doubtless say that this sad outcome is of his own making.

But that would gratuitously misunderstand the intentions of a basically honourable m

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