Bride's father absent: royal wedding news digest

Windsor (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


With just two days to go until the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry and US television star Meghan Markle, she confirmed Thursday that her father will not attend following heart surgery.

Here is a round-up of the latest news:

- Bride's sadness as father recovers -

Thomas Markle, an Emmy Award-winning TV lighting director, had been due to walk his daughter down the aisle.

However, he will not be coming, Markle said, after reports that he had undergone heart surgery.

"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," Meghan Markle said in a statement.

"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."

- Days in hospital -

Thomas Markle is recuperating in hospital, the 73-year-old was quoted as saying by US celebrity news website TMZ.

"I'm ok. It will take a long time to heal. Staying in the hospital a few more days. Not allowed to get excited."

TMZ said he was alert and coherent and said doctors had implanted stents in his blood vessels.

He had been set to walk his daughter down the aisle, then pulled out after suffering heart problems when staged paparazzi pictures backfired. He changed his mind and intended to come, but then had to undergo surgery.

- Press pummel palace -

Harry's Kensington Palace household received a battering in the British press for not offering more support and guidance to the Markle family.

"The royals have let down Meghan Markle's father", said a comment piece in The Times, while The Sun's front page said "Palace 'won't aid Meghan dad'."

- Car crash sister -

Meanwhile Meghan's half-sister Samantha Grant was in hospital with a suspected broken ankle and a fractured knee after her boyfriend Mark drove into a concrete barrier trying to avoid a photographer, he told TMZ.

Grant suffers from multiple sclerosis and is already wheelchair-bound as a result.

- Uninvited brother in Windsor -

Half-brother Tom Markle Junior was in Windsor ahead of the wedding, despite not having an invite.

Last month he urged Harry to bail out of the wedding to his "jaded, shallow, conceited" half-sister who he said would make a "joke" of the royal family.

But he appeared to have had a change of heart. The Daily Mirror newspaper quoted him as saying: "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 said the letter was a "moment of madness" and a cry for help while at "breaking point" dealing with the pressure.

"Despite her job, there will be no acting by her on Saturday for sure. She'll be unable to hide her happiness."

- Privates on parade -

Around 250 soldiers, sailors, marines and air crew are due to take part in the wedding and the military staged a rehearsal in the streets of Windsor.

"There's a lot of planning and preparation that goes into this," said the Royal Navy's state ceremonial officer Eddie Wearing.

"The guys will be able to cope with the pressure on the day because we have done a lot of training and it's all about repetition.

"Nerves are a good thing and a bit of healthy nervousness is good in my book. We are absolutely ready to go."

- Most loyal opposition? -

Jeremy Corbyn may be the paid leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition, as head of the second-biggest party in parliament, but the veteran leftist is a staunch republican and will not be watching the wedding live.

Instead, the Labour leader is scheduled to speak at a party economics conference.

- Hitting a high note -

Two choir boys who will sing during the wedding said they were nervous and excited to be performing, after weeks of rehearsals.

Leo Mills, 11, and nine-year-old Nathan Mcharo are among 12 young choristers who will sing during the service.

"I'm super excited. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. If it's handed to you, you take it," said Mills.

"We've been rehearsing often for the last three or four weeks."

Mcharo added: "I've got a bit of nerves but that's all right because we're confident."