For a 73-year-old recluse, who prefers to spend his days unshaven and lounging around in T-shirts drinking beers with his friends at his beachfront hideaway, the events of Saturday May 19 are likely to present something of a social challenge.
But Meghan Markle’s father Tom, a retired television lighting director, is determined to walk his 36-year-old daughter down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry, 33, in six weeks’ time. There had been intense speculation as to who would give away the former actress, with her mother and even Prince William suggested as potential candidates.
However, a new biography of Meghan, by royal biographer Andrew Morton, suggests the role will be fulfilled, as tradition dictates, by Meghan’s “shy” father who is of Dutch-Irish descent.
The book also claims that Tom Markle attended fittings for a morning suit last month in preparation for his important role. “My father worships the ground Meghan walks on,” Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Jr told Morton. “I know how proud he will be to take her arm and walk her down the aisle.
“But I also know how terrified he will be. If he doesn’t go he will regret it for the rest of his life. He is not just representing his family, he is representing America.”
His journey to the church will take the reclusive retiree from an undistinguished apartment in the Mexican beach resort to the epicentre of British royalty, as he mingles with lords, ladies and heads of state on the most important day of his daughter’s life.
It remains unclear, however, whether he will give a speech at the wedding reception. Meghan, who is determined to defy convention, is planning to that herself.
So just who is Thomas W Markle, the man whose daughter will soon become the most modern and emancipated princess the royal family has ever known?
Born to a poor family in Pennsylvania, he may have filed for bankruptcy in 2016 before moving to Mexico but he appears to have been a positive role model for his young daughter in other ways.
Having designed the lighting for shows including Married… With Children and General Hospital – for which he won two Emmys – Meghan has credited him with being a huge influence on her career.
Describing him as “hardworking” and “caring”, she says that he “invested in my future so that I could grow up to have so much”.
For a boy who had grown up on simple dinners of “potatoes and Spam” this was helped by a £500,000 lottery win when Meghan was nine. Her brother says: “That money allowed Meg to go to the best schools and get the best training”.
Tom also overcame the racial prejudice of others to marry an African-American woman and helped develop his daughter’s social conscience.
“I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques,” Meghan once wrote about the day her father first met her mum Doria, two years before her arrival on August 4, 1981 – just six days after Princess Diana married Harry’s father, Prince Charles.
Doria and Tom were married in 1979 at the Self-Realization Fellowship on Sunset Boulevard a venue founded by a Hindu guru popular with Hollywood stars – and Doria.
They separated when Meghan was six but Tom stayed in close touch with his daughter – so much so that when an English teacher asked her to tick the ethnicity box for Caucasian on a mandatory census, she says it was her father who told her, aged 12: “If that happens again, you draw your own box.”
“To this day your hugs are still the very best in the whole wide world. Thanks for my work ethic, my love of Busby Berkeley films and club sandwiches, for teaching me the importance of hand- written thank-you notes, and for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you xo – Bean.”
It was posted alongside a photo showing the infant Meghan lying on her father’s chest.
If Thomas Markle was proud of his daughter for her acting career, now he must be even more so
She said: “Tom is fine. He has a slight hobble but nothing that would stop him attending.”
In an interview in Vanity Fair Meghan once described both her parents as “so supportive” of her fledgling acting career.
“My father knew how hard it is for an actor to get work, so he above all people was so proud that I was able to beat the odds,” she said.
Now that his daughter is a princess-in-waiting one can only wonder at the pride he must feel.