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 divorced three decades ago, will arrive in Britain in the week before the May 19 wedding to “spend time” with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.
They will also meet Harry’s father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, 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,” the spokesman said.
“On the morning of the wedding, Ms Ragland will travel with Ms Markle by car to Windsor Castle,” he added. “Mr Markle will walk his daughter down the aisle.”
Thomas Markle Junior, the half-brother of the US actress, has accused the couple of shunning her side of the family, writing in an April 26 open letter that “it’s not too late” for 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.
He and his sister Samantha Grant say they have not been invited to the wedding.
“I guess we’re all distant family to Meg,” wrote Tom Jr.
– No chief bridesmaid –
Markle, 36, will not be having a maid of honour.
“She has a very close-knit group of friends and did not want to choose between them,” the royal spokesman explained.
Her bridesmaids and pageboys will all be children.
Asked when the public would see the newlyweds kiss — often the defining image of British royal weddings — he remained tight-lipped, saying: “I have no comments on kissing”.
Some 2,640 members of the public have been invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle, and will arrive from 09:00am (0800 GMT) for the midday (1100 GMT) service, the royal 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 through Windsor after the service.
Food stalls and giant screens will line the procession route, and the town centre will be decorated with bunting and ceremonial banners.
The couple will join the 600 wedding guests for a reception at the castle after the procession, departing later in the day for an evening reception for 200 at the nearby Frogmore House.
The newlyweds will not be going on honeymoon straight away, but will carry out their first engagement as a married couple the week after their wedding.