Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked for “understanding and respect” towards the bride’s father, Thomas Markle.
Kensington Palace has issued a statement amid claims Thomas will no longer attend the royal wedding on Saturday.
He had previously been confirmed to walk Meghan, 36, down the aisle.
However, Thomas has been quoted on US website TMZ as saying he won’t travel to the UK, following allegations he’d liaised with a picture agency to pose for staged photographs.
In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding.
“She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation.”
The palace did not confirm that Thomas will definitely not attend.
According to TMZ, the former actress’ father reportedly made the decision to bow out of the wedding over fears of embarrassing his daughter and the royal family.
Thomas had been due to fly to England a few days ahead of the wedding, allowing him time to meet his future son-in-law for the first time.
Kensington Palace had previously confirmed Thomas would also spend time with The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ahead of the wedding.
The palace had described his role in the wedding as “important” as he was due to walk Meghan down the aisle.
A palace spokesperson had said: “Ms. Markle is delighted to have her parents by her side on this important and happy occasion.”
But this week, Meghan’s father has been at the centre of claims he worked with a photography agency on staged photos showing him being measured for a suit and browsing pictures of Harry and Meghan at an internet cafe near his Mexico home.
However, his daughter Samantha – Meghan’s half-sister – appeared on Loose Women yesterday to insist the whole thing had been her idea.
Samantha said: “I have, and I have to say, I am entirely the culprit.”
She said the idea came about because she wanted to counter unflattering photographs previously published of Thomas.
“I said, you know, the world has no idea you’re getting in shape, doing healthy things. They don’t photograph you buying vegetables,” she said. “They photograph you as unflattering ways as they can.
“So I said, really, you need to show the world that you’re getting in shape and doing great healthy things. So I suggested it. There’s a lot of scrutiny that it was money motivated, it was not. It was my suggestion that to benefit him and to benefit the royal family that everyone looked good and they depict you as you are – in shape and doing healthy things.”
When asked if he’d received money for the images, she answered: “I don’t believe so and that was not the motive. I have no idea but if he did I’m going to assume it was a pittance. They don’t pay that much. It was really so that the world could see him doing the healthy things he enjoys doing.”
Samantha added: “Let me clarify, he’s 73, which makes him a bit more fragile. He’s a quiet man. He’s really been admirable about laying low and not speaking out, with all due respect.
“I merely wanted him to be seen in a respectable light. I didn’t feel that was being done so I suggested that the photographers show him as he is, doing positive things and that was never addressed.”
It is now unclear whether Thomas will actually attend the wedding or not and, if he doesn’t, who will walk Meghan down the aisle.
Thomas divorced Meghan’s mum Doria when the actress was six.
Harry and Meghan will marry on Saturday, May 19 at midday at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Don’t miss out: Three steps to ensure you see all ED!’s latest news on Facebook