A piece in today’s Times:
The half-sister of the Duchess of Sussex has described how she helped set up the fake paparazzi photographs that led to the absence of their father Thomas Markle from the royal wedding in 2018.
The photographs, which are at the centre of the rift between the duchess and Mr Markle, 76, showed him preparing in Mexico for the wedding.
After they were revealed to have been staged, Mr Markle announced he would not attend the ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He and Meghan are now estranged and he has said that he would give evidence against her in a legal action against The Mail on Sunday.
Samantha Markle, 56, also known as Samantha Grant, who is 17 years older than Meghan, has published a memoir: The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister. She writes: “I got a call from someone offering to connect me with a photographer friend by the name of Jeff [Rayner], who promised to discreetly take photographs of my father, putting him in an honest light, because other photographers had been so disparaging, intentionally.
“I received no money for the deal per my request, and the goal for my father was not money, because he had been turning down $50,000 interviews. It was just allowing the royals and the world to see him in his proper light, because he was so horribly labelled and photographed.
“It was like watching vultures feast. The photographer said, ‘Don’t worry, I will take good care of your dad, and nobody will even see’.” She said she asked the photographer to stay 100 yards away. But when CCTV pictures emerged of when they set up a photoshoot at an internet café near his home in Rosarito, the photographer was clearly in evidence.
Ms Markle, who lives in Florida, wrote: “I nearly choked, when I saw photographs of the photographer walking 3 feet behind my father . . . I was guaranteed that he would not be visible. I was guaranteed it would be discreet, and then he publicly allowed himself to be seen walking three feet behind my father with the long-lens camera, and furthermore, bragged about it on his Facebook page.
“I sent an email to the photographer, letting him know that I was horribly upset by what had occurred, and he said that he would arrange ‘something’ with my father that would make him happy, and that he would ‘fix the situation.’ The damage was done, and the thought of ‘fixing it’ was tragicomedy at best.”
The book recounts the disintegration of the half-sisters’ relationship from when Meghan was born to the point now when all hope of reconciliation has been “completely extinguished”. In one passage she tells how her father sounded “very hurt and dismissed” when she spoke to him by phone before Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry. “I said, ‘Dad, what’s going on, what’s wrong?’ He said, ‘This is really weird, she’s not the same. When Harry is in the room, she is very sweet and a different person but when he steps out of the room, she is mean and controlling’.”
Ms Markle, who has multiple sclerosis, also explained why she had decided to write the memoir. “It was a ‘Catch 22’ situation, and as we all had bills to pay, and I am living with disability, I decided that when it was appropriate, and what I had to say seemed to have social utility, why should I not be compensated?
“The world was wanting to know about so many things, and I refused to lie helpless tied to train tracks bound and gagged. I believe in win-win situations, and I was adamant about the fact that, if they were going to make money, then so were we.”
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