Meghan Markle's father to walk her down the aisle

London (AFP) –


Meghan Markle's father Thomas will walk her down the aisle when she marries Britain's Prince Harry, a royal spokesman announced Friday, despite claims from her half-brother that she had snubbed her family.

Thomas Markle and the bride-to-be's mother Doria Ragland, who are divorced, will arrive in Britain days before the May 19 wedding to "spend time" with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.

They will also meet heir-to-the throne Prince Charles, Harry's father, ahead of the ceremony at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

"Both of the bride's parents will have important roles in the wedding," said the royal statement.

"On the morning of the wedding, Ms Ragland will travel with Ms Markle by car to Windsor Castle," it added. "Mr Markle will walk his daughter down the aisle."

Thomas Markle Jr, half-brother of the US actress, on Thursday accused the couple of shunning her side of the family, writing in an open letter that it was not "too late" for Prince Harry to call off the wedding.

"As more time passes to your royal wedding, it became very clear that this is the biggest mistake in royal wedding history," wrote the 51-year-old.

But the royal family said Friday that they were "very much looking forward to welcoming Ms Markle's parents to Windsor for the wedding".

Around 2,000 members of the public have been invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle, and will arrive from 0900 GMT for the 1200 GMT service, the spokesman said.

Harry and his fiancee, who will spend the eve of the wedding apart, will come face-to-face with the crowds outside the grounds during a 25-minute carriage procession after the service.

Preparations are already underway to deal with the hordes that are expected to descend on the town, west of London, in two weeks' time.

Rail operators will put on extra trains and a 6,000 space car parking area has been created.

Food stalls and giant screens will line the procession route, and the town centre will be decorated with bunting and ceremonial banners.

Members of the royal family will arrive 40 minutes before the service, with Prince Harry and his brother Prince William -- his best man -- expected to arrive on foot.

The couple will join other guests for a reception at the castle after the procession, departing later in the day for an evening reception at the nearby Frogmore House.