Meghan and Harry Issue Statement as Her Dad Drops Out of Wedding: It's 'Deeply Personal'

The couple request "understanding and respect" for Meghan's father, Thomas Markle

Meghan Markle‘s father Thomas Markle was set to meet Prince Harry for the first time this week before walking her down the aisle on Saturday, but now the bride-to-be will become royal before the two men ever meet.

Markle will no longer be attending the royal wedding on May 19, as first reported by TMZ following the news that he had participated in staged paparazzi photos. Late Monday, Kensington Palace announced in a statement that Meghan was in the midst of a “deeply personal moment” following the surprise turn of events.

“This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding,” said a spokesman. “She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”

In a press briefing earlier this month, the palace had announced that Markle was set to walk Meghan down the aisle on May 19. On Monday, Markle said that after suffering a heart attack six days ago, he checked himself out of the hospital in order to attend the wedding, but decided against it after it was revealed that he staged photo shoots.

When asked if the “difficult situation” referred to the staged photo shoots or Thomas’ statement that he suffered a heart attack last week, the spokesperson stated, “We are not getting into further details.”

Earlier on Monday, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle admitted to arranging the photo shoots of their father, but argued that their intentions were good. “There’s a lot of scrutiny that it was money motivated, it was not,” Samantha insisted on British talk show Loose Women. She and Thomas both explained that it was to combat the media coverage that they felt portrayed him in a negative light.

Samantha and her brother Thomas Jr. (Meghan’s half-brother) will not be at the wedding. A source tells PEOPLE that Meghan has no relationship with her half-siblings.

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Meghan Markle</a> - 6
Meghan and Thomas Markle. Source: Meghan Markle/Instagram

Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is still expected to attend, and will be staying at a hotel with her daughter the night before the royal wedding.

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They will then travel together by car to St. George’s Chapel, where they were expected to meet Meghan’s dad to walk her down the aisle. As Thomas will no longer be attending, he will not get to meet Prince Harry until after his daughter has officially become a member of the royal family.When asked if Meghan’s father’s decision not to attend was definite, a spokesperson from Kensington Palace confirmed that “The extent of what we are going to say is in that [their original] comment.”

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