Meghan Markle's family drama: What you need to know
Meghan Markle attends the first annual Royal Foundation Forum in London, Wednesday Feb. 28, 2018. (Chris Jackson/Pool via AP)
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, March 2, 2018 6:00AM EST
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot on May 19, many royal observers will be closely watching the bride’s side of the aisle.
Ever since the couple announced their engagement late last year, rumours about the Markle family rifts have intensified, with dozens of tabloid headlines about her “estranged” siblings and “strained” relationship with her father.
Markle’s divorced parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, issued a joint statement after the engagement announcement, wishing the couple “a lifetime of happiness.” But some British media outlets have been reporting that it’s unlikely Markle’s older half-siblings, from her father’s previous marriage, will attend the wedding.
From her sister’s upcoming tell-all book, to her brother’s troubles with the law, the Markle family drama has provided tabloids with plenty of fodder over the last few months.
The tell-all book
Before Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, the bride-to-be’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, was already giving eyebrow-raising media interviews and promoting her upcoming book, The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.
But despite the unflattering-sounding title, Samantha insisted the book will be positive. She told the Good Morning Britain TV show last October that it’s “only a tell-all in that I go through and recant some of the beautiful nuances of our lives, our family home.”
However, she also said the world “will be surprised” by the contents of the book.
“There’s so much the public doesn’t know.”
In a separate interview months later, Samantha revealed that it had been three years since she last spoke to her sister.
The family Markle ‘never had’
After Prince Harry guest-edited a BBC Radio 4 show inlateDecember, he was asked about his fiancée’s first Christmas with the Royal Family. Prince Harry said Markle fit right in and his family “loved having her there.”
“She’s done an absolutely amazing job…it’s the family that I suppose she’s never had,” he told a BBC interviewer.
That comment did not sit well with Markle’s half-siblings, who described it as hurtful.
“She has a large family. She always did,” Samantha Markle tweeted. “Our dad is amazing and completely self sacrificing.”
Markle’s half-brother, Tom Markle Jr., told The Daily Mail that Prince Harry’s comment was “shocking, because Meghan had an amazing, amazing childhood growing up.
“She had a lot of family, especially at Christmas and holidays,” he said.
Markle Jr. also said his father “would be a little confused … at (Prince Harry’s) statement.”
Who will walk Markle down the aisle?
Some British tabloids have suggested that Markle is not close with her father, a former television lighting director who is said to have filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and now reportedly lives in Mexico.
When Prince Harry and Markle gave their first joint interview as an engaged couple to the BBC in late November, they revealed that Harry hadn’t yet met his future father-in-law, but had spoken to him several times.
Prince Harry called his fiancee’s mother Doria, a social worker and yoga instructor who lives in Los Angeles, “amazing.” Many have suggested that Doria will be the one walking Markle down the aisle.
But Samantha Markle has dismissed those reports as “lies, lies, lies.”
“Stop being so gullible people! Readers have all gone mad to believe anything in tabloids! Dad will walk her down the aisle all of this rubbish that says he is not, is to generate sales!," she tweeted in early January. She has since made her Twitter account private.
Tom Markle Jr.’s run-in with the law
Markle’s half-brother was reportedly arrested in January, 2017 after an alleged domestic violence incident involving a gun at his home in Grant Pass, Ore.
According to The Sun, Tom Markle Jr. blamed the arrest on his drinking. He said he was “incredibly sorry” for his actions and vowed to seek help.
On New Year’s Eve, there was another incident at the home Markle Jr. shared with his fiancée. His fiancée was initially arrested, but authorities decided not to lay any charges against her, according to The Sun.
The paper reported that Markle Jr. “blamed the pressure of being in the public eye” since his sister’s engagement to Prince Harry.
The rift between the Markle siblings
Samantha Markle and Tom Markle Jr. have publicly disparaged one another.
Last December, Samantha posted articles about her brother’s run-ins with the law and in one tweet wrote: "#TomMarkleJunior needs to stop disparaging my father who disowned him long ago for being a lying thief."
Samantha also joked on Twitter about her “roguish” brother crashing the royal wedding. She has since made her Twitter account private.
In an article published by In Touch in early February, Markle Jr. claimed that when he tried to reach out to Meghan, she snubbed him through a lawyer and allegedly referred to him as “distant family.”
Markle Jr. called it “a slap in the face.”
Years before she met Prince Harry, Markle married film producer and talent manager Trevor Engelson at a beach ceremony in Jamaica. The couple had been dating for about seven years before tying the knot in 2011, but the marriage lasted only two years.
After Markle’s relationship with Prince Harry became public, Engelson raised eyebrows for his work on a “fictional” TV series described as a “divorce comedy” involving the Royal Family.
According to Deadline, the project’s premise is: “Divorce is hard. Sharing custody is harder. Sharing custody with the British Royal family when your wife marries a prince, in the unforgiving spotlight of London’s tabloid media, is next level.”
While much of the show’s description sounds like it was inspired by Engelson’s relationship with Markle, the couple did not have any children together.