You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings. You do, however, get to choose whether you speak to them. Meghan Markle chooses not to speak with her half-brother and half-sister. They have let it be known that they consider her snooty and a bit false. These are ideal qualifications for her role of a lifetime, a plum part in the unending saga of Britain’s royal family. It is their job to be snooty and false. Someone has to uphold Britain’s cherished standards of manners and meaningless small talk.
Markle does speak to her father, the retired lighting technician Thomas Markle. But she hasn’t yet introduced him to Prince Harry. The plan was that Harry would meet his new dad on Saturday, after Mr. Markle had walked Ms. Markle down the aisle at a small, out-of-the-way chapel in Windsor Castle, under the watching eyes of several hundred close friends and the world’s press. After that, Thomas Markle would have a cup of tea with his new in-laws. They are media professionals, too, so the conversation would probably have warmed up, once he’d done the bowing and scraping.
Now, tragically, Thomas Markle will not be going to the ball. On Sunday, Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper caught Markle in an act of media imposture, and not of the kind familiar from the faux-natural documentaries that the Royal Family regularly commissions, to show the plebs that it is Just Like Them.
Markle arranged for himself to be photographed being measured for a suit, working out as he tried to shed a few pounds before the big day, and running some concerned-dad background checks on his daughter’s boyfriend by reading a book about him and his family. A fee of $100,000 was mentioned. Yesterday, Markle’s half-sister Samantha Grant claimed that she had set up the photos, to create a ‘positive’ image of her father ‘for the benefit of the Royal Family’. People have had their heads chopped off for less.
It doesn’t really matter that Harry will not meet Meghan’s father. Plenty of British people believe that she hasn’t met Harry’s father either. Many believe – though royal experts dismiss – the idea that Harry’s dad is not Prince Charles but Captain James Hewitt, a cavalry officer who gave Princess Diana some memorable riding lessons when her marriage wasn’t going well.
Nor should Meghan Markle be embarrassed about her relatives’ behavior. It makes her fit right in with the Windsors. The Duchess of Cambridge, who used to be known as the civilian Kate Middleton, has a dubious uncle called Gary Goldsmith, a tattooed, shaven-headed man who has been photographed apparently chopping up lines of cocaine at ‘Villa Bang-Bang’, his second home in Spain. Elizabeth II had a dubious uncle called Edward VIII, who was too friendly towards Hitler, and whose behavior in the summer of 1940—ignoring orders to return to Britain from France, talking with Nazi officials in neutral Portugal, and allegedly speculating against the British Pound—suggests that he was positioning himself to take over the monarchy.
Now, Meghan Markle will go up the aisle with her mother, and leave the chapel married, and as alone as a person can be when the whole world is watching. As to what happens next, tune in next week, and every week after that until the end of time, for the next episode of House of Windsor. As this is a British soap, not an American one, there is no guarantee of a happy ending.