Meghan Markle's estranged father, Thomas Markle, is coming clean about what has widely been labeled as the "betrayal" of his daughter's trust — staging paparazzi photos with a British tabloid ahead of the Duchess of Sussex's wedding with Prince Harry in 2018.
"I wish I hadn't done the whole thing," Thomas confessed on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, March 9, explaining that he felt forced into staging the photos because he felt totally unprotected by Meghan, Harry and the royal family — as the press constantly followed him and remained outside 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 added, referring to Meghan's half-sister, Samantha Markle. "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."
While providing an explanation of how the media treated him, Thomas explained: "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. [The press] were making me an alcoholic, calling me names, talking about the way I dress.
"So, yes, I went for this deal where this man was going to make me look better," the 76-year-old admitted. "Maybe I got sucked into it, but I believed him, and I thought it was going to work. It didn't work. Of course."
Meghan, 39, and her father haven't spoken since the staged photos were published in the U.K. two years ago. Their reported last text messages took place when Thomas was recovering from heart surgery in the lead up to Harry and Meghan's May wedding at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle — Thomas credited his heart surgery as the reason why he wasn't in attendance when the two tied the knot.
"At that point we pretty much said goodbye," Thomas said on the morning show. He added that he ultimately hung up the call because Harry allegedly 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 explained. "And that's the last conversation we ever had."
Despite apologizing "at least 100 times or so," Thomas remains estranged from his younger daughter, which is something that has become harder for Thomas after learning of Meghan's mental health battle during her time as a senior royal member.
As OK! previously reported, Meghan revealed she had “very clear and very scary” suicidal thoughts when she was a working royal during her and Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday, March 7. During the bombshell special, Meghan admitted she "didn't want to be alive anymore" because the constant pressure from royal life and the U.K. tabloids had become too much.
"Had I known she was having psychological problems, I would have been there for her," Thomas told Good Morning Britain hosts, while noting Meghan "pretty much ghosted all of her family" in the U.S., so "she really had no one to reach out to."
"She would have had us if she'd kept us," he candidly stated. "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."
At the end of the interview, Thomas shared a personal message directly to Harry and Meghan and apologized once more for his past actions. "This was a long time ago and I've certainly tried to make up for it," Thomas said, adding that the couple know's where he lives if they ever want to talk. "I'd love to get together. I'd certainly like to see my grandson," he concluded.
Thomas' interview comes two days after Harry and Meghan's shocking tell-all, in which they opened up for the first time about their life as royals behind closed doors and their decision to walk away. During the primetime special, Meghan shared her thoughts on whether it "felt like betrayal" when she learned her father "was working with the tabloids" to stage the photos.
Meghan said the "tabloids had apparently known [her father's location] for a month or so," but "decided to hold until the Sunday before our wedding because they wanted to create drama." However, when she and Harry called Thomas to ask about staging the photos, he said: "No, absolutely not."
Meghan — who shares 22-month-old Archie with Harry, 36, and is expecting the arrival of their second child, a baby girl, later this year — pleaded with Thomas once more to tell the truth, but "he wasn't able to do that."
"That, for me, has really resonated, especially now as a mother," Meghan disclosed during the CBS special. "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."