Update 5/19: Meghan began her entrance into St. George's Chapel by walking herself down the aisle. Shortly after, she was accompanied by her new father-in-law Prince Charles as she approached the Quire—the area right before the altar. Meghan's father Thomas Markle, who was originally supposed to walk her down the aisle, told TMZ on Saturday, "My baby looks beautiful and she looks very happy. I wish I were there and I wish them all my love and all happiness." Thomas couldn't make it to his daughter's wedding due to health issues, which you can read more about below.
Original story 5/18:
A little less than two weeks ago, Kensington Palace announced that Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, would walk his daughter down the aisle at the royal wedding on May 19. After reports recently surfaced that Meghan's father staged paparazzi photos of himself preparing for the wedding, he told TMZ that he will no longer be attending the wedding at all "because he doesn't want to embarrass the royal family or his daughter." (FYI, before all of this information became public, he suffered a heart attack and checked himself out of the hospital early just so he could be there for Meghan.)
Earlier this week, Meghan's dad changed his mind about wanting to attend the royal wedding, but despite his decision Meghan has confirmed in a statement that her father definitely won't be attending the wedding. Instead, Prince Charles will walk her down the aisle. Kensington Palace revealed the news in a statement Friday morning:
"Ms. Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St George's Chapel on her Wedding Day. The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way."
According to an interview with TMZ, Thomas believes that staging the paparazzi photos of himself was "stupid" and "hates the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle." However, as Meghan confirms, his health issues will prevent him from doing so.
On Tuesday evening, Thomas told TMZ he would be having heart surgery the following morning, which would mean he won't be able to fly to the U.K. in time to attend his daughter's wedding. "They [doctors] will go in and clear blockage, repair damage and put a stent where it is needed," he says.
The original news that Meghan's dad would walk her down the aisle came as a surprise to many, considering Meghan is significantly closer to her mother: Doria Ragland. According to MarieClaire.com's exclusive royal wedding expert, Caroline Castigliano, Meghan may have originally chosen her father to walk her down the aisle to follow tradition and show respect for Harry's grandmother, the Queen. This is also likely the reason why Meghan chose to have Prince Charles do the honor of walking her down the aisle.
"I think Harry would want to do what his grandmother sees as appropriate as a sign of respect to her," says Castigliano. "They just wouldn't have her mother walk her down the aisle because it wouldn't be what made the Queen feel comfortable, especially at her age."
"There's going to be all sorts of opportunities for Harry to break with tradition and get things to move in a slightly different direction, but at this point I'm sure his respect for the Queen is the most important thing."
According to Castigliano, by tradition it would then defer to the second male in her family: her half-brother, Thomas Jr. "Normally it would go to the next male in line in her family, but I understand her brother is not coming. It's a very difficult situation." Indeed, Meghan's half-brother attacked his sister for not giving him an invite to the royal wedding. He called Meghan "phony" and accused her of tearing her family apart.
Before Prince Charles was set to walk Meghan down the aisle, it was also a possibility that, despite being untraditional, Meghan's mother could do the honor. Ragland is going to be in the car with Meghan as she travels to the ceremony at Windsor Castle. Meghan has reportedly always wanted her mother to walk her down the aisle, but she's following royal tradition instead.
Thomas and Doria were both expected to arrive in the U.K. this week and spend time with Prince Harry's family—including the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Thomas won't make it across the pond, but Ragland was spotted leaving for London earlier this week with a Burberry garment bag. She's met Harry before and is surely thrilled to spend time with her future son-in-law this week.
This post has been updated with new information.