Meghan Markle's father is 'alone and upset' today after undergoing heart surgery and admits he may not be allowed to leave hospital before his daughter's wedding.
Thomas Markle is recovering after he had three stents implanted in arteries following a heart attack at home in Mexico eight days ago.
His heart trouble and the embarrassment over his cash deal with a paparazzi photographer means it is now unlikely he will travel to the UK to give away his daughter at St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Saturday.
As his children said he is 'heartbroken' to miss the wedding Mr Markle told TMZ last night: 'I'm okay. It will take a long time to heal. Staying in the hospital a few more days. Not allowed to get excited.'
Meghan's mother Doria was given VIP treatment when she landed at Heathrow yesterday and is expected to give her daughter away in her father's absence.
Today a wedding rehearsal is planned in Windsor but Kensington Palace is yet to comment on the turmoil in Meghan’s family.
Thomas Markle (pictured at a shop last week) is recovering after he had three stents implanted in arteries after suffering a heart attack at home in Mexico eight days ago and is extremely unlikely to attend the wedding
Harry and Meghan are said to be heartbroken that Thomas cannot come because of health problems and the scandal of his paparazzi deal
On the go: Meghan's mother Doria was picked up at her California home as she made her way to LAX on Tuesday and has since landed in the UK where she is expected to give her daughter away
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 his doctors needed to 'go in and clear blockage, repair damage, and put a stent where it is needed' during the operation.
His daughter Samantha, who has a poor relationship with Meghan, claims her father is 'upset and alone' following his surgery.
But there is some confusion over his care as sources close to the Markle family told the Mail yesterday that Mr Markle had already been diagnosed with a heart condition and was due to undergo planned surgery to fit a stent, the same operation Prince Philip underwent in 2011, early next week – on his return from London.
Miss Markle’s nephew, Tyler Dooley, has said he hopes his grandfather will travel but said: ‘We’ll just have to wait and see.’
Meghan's mother Doria Ragland flew into Heathrow on an overnight flight from Los Angeles and she is expected to give her daughter away.
Dressed casually in a T-shirt, linen trousers and canvas pumps, and carrying a suit bag containing what is believed to be her Burberry wedding outfit, she was picked up from the steps of the aircraft by a royal fleet Jaguar.
She was driven to Heathrow’s VIP Windsor suite, where Harry’s assistant private secretary Amy Pickerill was waiting with an immigration officer.
A member of staff from the private office carried her bags.
Royal fans are gathering in Windsor today with just 48 hours to go until the wedding of the year
Police were also out in huge numbers ahead of a rehearsal in the Berkshire town today
Miss Ragland, described as a ‘free spirit’ by her daughter and ‘amazing’ by Harry, was taken to Kensington Palace where she will stay until Friday.
She will not have long to shake off any effects of jet lag. It is thought she will meet the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in the next 24 hours.
On the night before the wedding she and her daughter will move with the bridal party to historic Cliveden, a 25-minute drive from Windsor Castle.
It is widely thought that should her former husband, with whom she is said to be ‘barely on speaking terms’, fail to show, it will be Miss Ragland who has the task of walking her daughter down the aisle. Some royal insiders have also questioned whether Prince Charles might step in to do the honours.
Senior royal sources dismissed reports that the ongoing family ‘soap opera’ had caused opprobrium in the Royal Family.
‘Let’s just say that this is a family well used to personal dramas and everyone feels desperately sorry for Meghan, particularly as it has all happened just days before her wedding day,’ said one.
‘At the end of the day, her father is his own man and she cannot control him.
‘Everyone could not be more supportive of her. Everything is going ahead as planned.’
Meghan Markle’s estranged half-sister, Samantha – who has made no secret of her bitterness at not being invited to the wedding – launched another attack on the bride-to-be last night.
‘She’s not going to tell me that I can’t speak about my life,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to take it. She’s way out of her league to tell me that I can’t speak.’
Samantha, 53, one of two children born to Miss Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, from his first marriage, has given a series of stinging interviews about her sibling.
She has accused Miss Markle of abandoning her family, particularly their father, during her quest for fame, and said Prince Harry would be ‘appalled by what she’s done’.
Samantha Markle gave a bombshell interview to US media where she insisted she had 'freedom of speech' and the right to criticise her half-sister Meghan
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, who has not seen Miss Markle in a decade, has also dismissed the actress as ‘narcissistic and selfish’ and has even penned an as-yet-unpublished memoir entitled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.
Mr Markle revealed he believes his heart attack was triggered by an open letter his son, Thomas Jr (pictured), who flew into the UK last night
Her frequent and increasingly wild interventions have been met with a cold silence by Kensington Palace, although one friend of the couple said they were an example of ‘how complicated family relationships could be’.
Yesterday Samantha, herself a former actress who now lives in Florida, where she is estranged from her own brother and at least one of her three children, was on her soapbox again.
‘If it’s about my life or my father’s there is something in this country called freedom of speech,’ she told US media in a video chat.
‘Meghan doesn’t have a copyright on that and she’s not going to tell me that I can’t speak about my life or my father’s life where it’s a matter of public self-defence.
‘The media is disparaging us. I’m not going to take it. This is not Great Britain.
‘I am a United States citizen and that’s all there is to it. She’s way out of her league to tell me that I can’t speak.’
Bizarrely, Samantha also said she had bought a ‘really sentimental’ wedding present for Harry and Miss Markle despite not being invited to the ceremony, and was hoping to give it to her half-sister in person.
In a series of other interviews with foreign media, she admitted that events this week had spun out of control.
She claimed it was her idea for their father to collude with a paparazzi photographer to stage pictures in the run-up to the wedding in order to ‘rehabilitate’ his image and help the Royal Family.
She said: ‘I would have liked to see her help him [their father] more. I feel that the red carpet should have been rolled out for him.’
Last night it was reported Samantha Markle was taken to hospital with a possible broken ankle after a ‘confrontation’ with a photographer in Florida.
She was reportedly being driven by her boyfriend, Mark, when she hurt her leg and knee in a car crash.
Mark is believed to have crashed into a concrete barrier after he swerved to avoid a photographer, who had moved in front of their car to take a picture, TMZ reported.
Samantha, who has Multiple Sclerosis and is wheelchair-bound, reportedly fell to the floor and was unable to get up, while the photographer is believed to have run away.
The surgery is the latest twist surrounding Mr Markle's attendance at Meghan's wedding. He was pictured on May at Doria's house a day after reportedly having a heart attack
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
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's estranged half-brother is the latest relative to turn up in the UK uninvited and called her a 'perfect princess' weeks after advising Prince Harry to dump her.
Thomas Markle Jr, 51, also said his father will be heartbroken to miss Saturday's wedding as he posed outside Windsor Castle last night.
He recent penned an ‘open letter’ and told Harry: ‘As more time passes to your royal wedding, it became very clear that this is the biggest mistake in royal wedding history.’
He also described Meghan elsewhere as ‘acting phoney’ and claimed she was ‘trying to reinvent herself as the new Princess Diana’.
But as he arrived in the UK despite not getting a wedding invite he appears to have changed his tune about his half-sister.
He told the Daily Mirror: 'My sister's going to be one of the best things ever to have happened to the royal family. She will be the perfect modern princess. I wish Meg and Harry nothing but a happy and healthy future together.'
He added: 'My dad will be heartbroken that he cannot be with Meg in Windsor to walk her down the aisle. He would have moved heaven and earth to be there'.
He also blamed the royal family for failing to give him 'guidance' as he embarrassed his sister.
He said: 'My letter wasn't intended to cause hurt or upset. I'd hoped my letter might shame the palace, I guess, into getting in touch.
'I was wrong. It wasn't designed to humiliate Meg into inviting me, but more hoping we could get the help we needed. Ever since her relationship with Harry emerged two years ago, our lives have been changed forever.
Megan Markle's estranged family members Tracey Dooley and her son Tyler are shown leaving their Waterloo hotel after coming to London without an invite
Tyler Dooley's girlfriend, Sandra Bazan, is also in London for the wedding. It is unlikely she has ever met Meghan
'We needed guidance from the royals but didn't get it.'
Meanwhile, with no members of either side of Miss Markle’s family – apart from her mother – apparently attending Saturday’s ceremony, the bride-to-be’s more distant relatives were popping up to cash in on their 15 minutes of fame.
Miss Markle’s half-brother’s ex-wife, Tracey Dooley, who has not spoken to the actress for 20 years, was enjoying a sightseeing tour of London with her two sons yesterday.
They were due to appear as wedding ‘pundits’ on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, but last night a GMB spokesman said they had been pulled.
One of Miss Markle’s nephews, Tyler, 25, who lives in Oregon, runs a legal cannabis farm and has created a royal wedding strain called Markle’s Sparkle. The family are staying in a £70-a-night hotel in Waterloo, central London.
WHAT IS A STENT PLACEMENT - AND WHY WOULD A PATIENT GET THREE STENTS AT ONCE?
by Mia de Graaf, US Health Editor
Stents hold arteries open to help improve blood flow to the heart and relieve chest pain.
Past president of the American Heart Association, Dr Sidney Smith, MD, told Daily Mail Online how stents work, when they are placed, and why a patient might need three stents at once.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
A stent is a wire mesh tube that props open arteries.
To open the narrowed artery, the surgeon may perform what's known as an angioplasty.
It involves making a small incision in a patient's arm or leg, through which a wire with an attached deflated balloon is thread through up to the coronary arteries.
In some cases, this is all that's needed, to go in and break up the blockage, without putting any permanent artery-openers in place.
However, in some cases surgeons will put in a stent to keep the arteries held open.
The stent surrounds the deflated balloon and expands with it when the balloon is inflated.
After the balloon has been deflated and removed, the stent stays in the artery permanently.
A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during an angioplasty. Once the balloon is removed, the stent remains to keep the artery open
HOW COMMON IS IT?
Angioplasties are increasingly common in the United States and Mexico due to rising rates of heart issues.
And stents are becoming increasingly common in angioplasty patients, since it is very common for the arteries to narrow again if nothing is put in place (this is known as restenosis, and happens in about a third of cases).
CAN IT BE PERFORMED DAYS OR WEEKS AFTER A HEART ATTACK?
Yes - depending on what kind of heart attack was suffered.
There are two kinds of blockages - a STEMI (which is a complete blockage) or an NSTEMI (a partial blockage).
STEMI stands for 'ST-elevation myocardial infarction', which means the patient has suffered cardiac enzyme changes, and changes to their electrical heart activity, as seen on an EKG scan.
A non-STEMI heart attack, or NSTEMI heart attack, is less urgent. It means they suffered enzyme changes but no changes on their EKG.
'A STEMI is a very big, severe heart attack where a patient comes into the emergency room and the artery is totally blocked, and needs to be opened up straight away and the stent is placed,' Dr Smith, Professor of Medicine, Cardiology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, explained.
'That's the patient that goes direct into surgery.'
'In other cases, the patient may have a non-STEMI. They may have chest pain, and they come into the hospital with enzyme changes but no changes on their EKG [electrical activity of the heart]. The need is not urgent. Stents are placed but it can be days later.'
WHY WOULD A PATIENT GET THREE STENTS AT ONCE?
It depends how many blockages they had, or how many vessels were affected.
'The decision to place stents in the coronary arteries is based on the number of significant blockages that's there,' Dr Smith explained.
'Three is not out of the ordinary. Sometimes you place just one, sometimes two or three - it completely depends.
'You places stents where there is a significant blockage. It could be that there were two or three vessels involved, or three blockages in one vessel. That would warrant three stents.'
He adds that the amount of blockages has nothing to do with the severity of the heart attack, or whether it would be a STEMI or NSTEMI.
HOW IS THE RECOVERY?
For patients being treated for chest pain, most are usually able to go home the same day of the operation. Patients are often advised to avoid strenuous activities and driving for at least a week.
But Dr Smith said it depends on each patient, and particularly on whether they have other underlying health issues.
'It depends on how well their heart is pumping,' Dr Smith said.
'Patients are often able to go home within 24 hours, usually into cardiac rehabilitation.'
As for the patient taking a trans-Atlantic flight, Dr Smith said that would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
'It depends on how they're doing, and how long the flight is,' he said.
- Any reader who thinks they may be suffering a heart attack, or may have suffered one, should never diagnose themselves. Always call an ambulance if you think you might be having a heart attack. The EMS crew in your ambulance will route you to the right hospital based on your location