He was reduced to what he calls ‘a footnote in history’ when two heart attacks prevented him from walking his daughter Meghan down the aisle of St George’s Chapel amid the pomp and pageantry of the Royal Wedding in May.
But Thomas Markle did take a starring role at Meghan’s very different first wedding to Hollywood producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, which took place under swaying palm trees on a Jamaican beach, complete with a Caribbean steel drum band and a most unusual welcome gift for the guests.
Mr Markle says he is ‘sick and tired’ of reading erroneous reports that he failed to attend the wedding, which sadly ended in divorce for the couple two years later. He explains that he asked the photographer to ignore him and concentrate on the young people showing off their beautiful bodies in swimwear.
In an exclusive interview, Thomas Markle revealed this photo of himself with his daughter at her first wedding - banishing rumours he didn't attend
‘There are no pictures out there of me at the wedding because it was on the beach and everyone else was in their 30s and I was in my 60s’, Mr Markle said last night, before showing The Mail on Sunday a photograph – published here for the first time. It shows him posing proudly with Meghan just moments before he and his ex-wife Doria walked her across the sand to marry Trevor.
Mr Markle also kept his business-class ticket to the four-day affair, along with an invitation, which featured a picture of a bikini-wearing Meghan on the beach entwined in Trevor’s arms, and a chilled bottle of Red Stripe beer within arm’s reach.
The wedding took place at the famous Jamaica Inn, where Meghan booked all 55 rooms and villas, taking the £1,200-a-night largest villa for herself and her new husband.
‘Meghan planned everything down to the tiniest detail. She took control of everything. I was given a white shirt to wear, as were all the male guests. She micro-managed everything,’ says Mr Markle.
‘The picture was taken when I walked into her bungalow just moments before the ceremony was due to start. I was so proud and overcome with emotion to see my baby in a white gown, looking so beautiful. We took the picture and then Doria and I both walked her down the aisle.
‘Trevor is Jewish and his father, who is a rabbi, conducted the service. But it was not a traditional Jewish ceremony. Meghan read vows she’d written herself.’
Mr Markle said he did take a starring role at Meghan’s very different first wedding to Hollywood producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, which took place under swaying palm trees on a Jamaican beach
There were 100 guests – including the cast of Suits, the TV show in which Meghan starred – for the ceremony on September 10, 2011. In the US, where the month is written first, that results in 9/10/11, a date Meghan chose because it would be easy for Trevor to remember. The guests were welcomed with a gift of a small fabric bag containing a welcome note from Meghan and Trevor along with a small plastic ‘baggy’ of marijuana. Mr Markle says: ‘It’s illegal, but it’s no big deal in Jamaica. It’s almost customary down there. I don’t smoke weed and to the best of my knowledge nor does Meghan. I don’t know what I did with mine. I think I gave it away. I kept the bag and I use it to keep the sea air [at his Mexican beachside home] off one of my Emmys.’ He has won three of the awards, known as the TV Oscars.
Festivities included ‘beach yoga with Doria’ – while she is now well known, she was listed simply as ‘Meg’s mum’ on the invitation.
The invitationto Meghan’s first wedding showed her entwined with Trevor on a beach with a beer
The Jamaica Inn is famous as the honeymoon designation of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe and her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, and was a regular haunt of James Bond author Ian Fleming. ‘If it’s good enough for Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller… it’s good enough for us,’ read the invitation.
On the day before the ‘beach chic’ wedding, the couple hosted ‘beach Olympics’ featuring the bride’s team versus the groom’s team in events such as tug-of-war and kayaking, followed by a barbecue. That night everyone danced to a reggae band.
Mr Markle, who helped pay for the celebration, is mentioned twice in the wedding literature. He is credited with ‘generously hosting’ brunch on the final day and gets a special ‘thank you’ for his ‘incredible generosity’.
Guests who chose not to stay at the Jamaica Inn were offered alternative accommodation nearby at The Royal Plantation.
The wedding invitation reads: ‘Cheers to love, cheers to laughter, cheers to happily ever after.’ Two years later, the marriage was over.