Thomas Markle Opens Up About 'Betrayal' of Staging Paparazzi Photos: 'I Wish I Hadn't Done the Whole Thing'
"I wish I hadn't done the whole thing," Thomas Markle, 76, told Good Morning Britain on Tuesday.
Thomas also provided the explanation that he felt forced into staging the photos because he felt totally unprotected by Meghan, Prince Harry, and the wider royal family in the face of constant press attention at his home in Rosarito, Mexico.
"My oldest daughter was contacted by a man named Jeff Rayner who was a photographer, who said, 'If you can convince your dad, we can make him look good,'" Thomas said.
"For an entire year, outside my house, somebody was taking photographs of me. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without being photographed buying something, coming out of a store," he added.
"And god forbid I'm buying beer for the guys at the guard gate… everybody knows I don't drink. But I bought beers for the guys at my guard gate," he continued. "They [the press] were making me an alcoholic, calling me names, talking about the way I dress.
"So, I, yes, I went for this deal where this man was going to make me look better. Maybe I got sucked into it, but I believed him, and I thought it was going to work. It didn't work. Of course."
During her sit-down with Oprah Winfrey, 67, on CBS Sunday (her first since her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017), the Duchess of Sussex, 39, was asked whether it "felt like betrayal" when she learned her dad "was working with the tabloids" in staging the photos.
Meghan said, "The tabloids had apparently known [her father's location] for a month or so and decided to hold until the Sunday before our wedding because they wanted to create drama."
"We called my dad and I asked him [about staging the photos] he said, 'No, absolutely not,'" the Duchess continued in the Monday, CBS This Morning clip.
"I said, 'I just need you to tell me and if you tell me the truth, we can help,' and he wasn't able to do that," said Meghan— who shares 22-month-old son Archie Harrison with Harry, 36, and is expecting the couple's second child, a baby girl. "That, for me, has really resonated, especially now as a mother."
Meghan — who shares 22-month-old son Archie Harrison with Harry, 36, and is expecting the couple's second child, a baby girl — added, "I look at Archie, I think about this child [on the way], and I genuinely can't imagine doing anything to intentionally cause pain to my child. I can't imagine it. So it's hard for me to reconcile that."
Meghan and her father have not spoken since the images were printed in the U.K. and last communicated via text while he was recovering from heart surgery in the lead-up to her May 2018 wedding at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
"At that point we pretty much said goodbye," said Thomas on Tuesday, adding that he ultimately hung up the call because Harry had texted him, "If you had listened to me, this wouldn't have happened to you."
"Me laying in a hospital bed after I'd had a procedure and getting a stent put here and a stent put here (points to his chest), felt that that was kind of snotty, so I hung up on him," Thomas told Good Morning Britain. "And that's the last conversation we ever had."
Despite feeling as though he's apologized for the photos "at least 100 times or so," he told Good Morning Britain that he remains estranged from Meghan—something that's become even more painful following her dramatic revelation about just how mentally traumatizing her life was inside the royal family.
"I love my daughter very much," Markle said Tuesday. "Had I known she was having psychological problems, I would have been there for her. Biggest problem here is she's pretty much ghosted all of her family. On her mother's side and my side. So, she really had no one to reach out to. She would have had us if she'd kept us."
He added, "The bottom line is, she didn't lose me. She made a statement saying she lost me. She didn't lose me. I would have always been there for her. I'm there for her now if she wants me."
In a personal message to Harry and Meghan at the end of the interview, he added "I'd like to say again, I'm sorry for what I've done. This was two years ago. This was a long time ago and I've certainly tried to make up for it. The stories in the paper, each time are because I haven't heard from you. They know where I live, now we're closer together, they're probably about 70 miles from me now. So, I'm available any time that we can get together. I'd love to get together. I'd certainly like to see my grandson."