In Depth

Thomas Markle interview: behind the scenes

Estranged father accuses Duchess of Sussex of ‘cheapening’ Royal Family

The estranged father of the Duchess of Sussex gives his take on their relationship in a feature-length documentary airing on Channel 5 tonight.

In a preview clip released on Sunday, Thomas Markle accuses his daughter of “cheapening” the British Royal Family.

The full interview is being screened just days after Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would no longer be “working members” of the monarchy - and after it emerged that the Duchess’s father could testify against her in her legal battle with The Mail on Sunday. 

Who is behind the interview?

The interview was secured by US mass media conglomerate ViacomCBS, which owns Channel 5, and is executive produced by Paul Sommers and Casper Days at Alaska TV.

The director is David Modell, who won a Bafta in 2003 for his Channel 4 film Young, Nazi and Proud.

Channel 5 commissioner Daniel Pearl, who secured the access to Meghan’s father, has pedigree with feature-length documentaries. Pearl also commissioned Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland while working at Channel 4.

When was it filmed?

Thomas Markle: My Story was recorded in October 2019 over six days at his home in Mexico, before his daughter and Prince Harry announced their decision to step away from the Royal Family.

What can we expect?

Markle, 75, gives his side of his public rift with his daughter during the interview.

“I want everyone to know that I’m not all the trashy things that are being said about me. I want Harry and Meghan to see this video and know that this is not fair,” he says.

The former TV lighting director adds that it was “almost a joke” that he learned of Meghan’s pregnancy on the radio rather than from his daughter over the phone.

But he apologises for missing the couple’s wedding, in May 2018. As Sky News notes, “confusion over whether he would travel to Windsor to walk her down the aisle threatened to overshadow the wedding”.

He eventually decided not to attend after having a heart attack.

“I want to apologise to the Queen and to the Royal Family,” he says in the interview.

He also says he may never again see the Sussexes, who plan to divide their time between Canada and the UK after stepping back from their royal roles.

“The last time they might see me is being lowered into the ground,” he said. “I don’t think at this point they are thrilled to see me or want to talk to me.”

Markle claims he had never heard of Harry before learning that Meghan was dating him.

And he hits out over comments made by Harry during a Radio 4 interview in the run-up to the 2018 wedding, shortly after Meghan made her Sandringham Christmas debut. The Royal said: “She’s done an amazing job, you know it’s the family I suppose she’s never had.”

Markle says: “When I heard Harry say she’s getting the family she never had, that was an insult and that was bullshit.

“As a matter of fact I would think that family she’s never had, that she’s getting now, is a lot stiffer than the one she’s left. Goodbye Harry, that doesn’t work for me.”

Thomas Markle: My Story airs at 9pm on Channel 5 on Wednesday 22 January.

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