Days before he was due to fly to London for the first time for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Duchess of Sussex’s father Thomas Markle has suffered a major stroke that has seen him lose his speech.
He is currently receiving urgent medical treatment in an American hospital.
I am devastated to report this news, just seven days before Thomas would have joined me in London to celebrate the Queen’s 70th year on the throne for a TV special on my GB News show, fulfilling his long-held wish to visit Windsor Castle.
But, in a cruel twist of fate, he will now be unable to make the trip as he recovers in hospital, just like he missed his daughter’s wedding to the Duke of Sussex after suffering from a heart attack.
I have been aware of the stroke since this morning and had agreed with both Thomas and his distraught daughter Samantha not to report the news while he underwent further tests to establish the severity of the stroke.
But a high-profile American website has received information from within the hospital, meaning news of his stroke was about to break.
Days before he was due to fly to London for the first time for the Queen ‘s Platinum Jubilee, the Duchess of Sussex ‘s father Thomas Markle has suffered a major stroke that has seen him lose his speech
A high-profile American website has received information from within the hospital, meaning news of his stroke was about to break (pictured: Thomas Markle with Meghan)
Samantha Markle told me: ‘My father is recovering in hospital. We ask for privacy for the family, for his health and wellbeing. He just needs peace and rest. Godspeed. We are praying. He just needs some rest. It’s a travesty how much he’s been tortured and how much he’s had to go through thanks to my sister’s disregard the past few years. That is unforgivable.’
Family members have been concerned about Thomas over the past few weeks, as he suffered relentless attacks from members of the so-called Sussex Squad of Twitter trolls who had been spreading internet rumours after his decision to launch a YouTube show.
His blood pressure had become a concern before the stroke.
There is fury among the Markle family that Thomas has been left to fund his own medical treatment.
Despite his ongoing health issues, Thomas had been determined to visit the UK for the first time to pay his respects for the Queen.
He was going to be hosted by myself and former I’m A Celebrity star and royal society commentator Lady Colin Campbell during the visit, with a series of events planned to pay tribute to the Queen and his Scottish heritage.
He intended to visit Windsor Castle for the first time, the location where he was due to walk his daughter down the aisle during her nuptials before he suffered a heart attack that saw him unable to travel.
Thomas also remained hopeful that his presence in London would finally see a reunion between himself and his daughter – and a first meeting with his son-in-law Prince Harry.
But then yesterday, his daughter Samantha became increasingly concerned as Thomas lost his speech during one of their daily phone calls.
She immediately alerted local friends who were able to get Thomas to hospital in Tijuana, where he was photographed wearing an oxygen mask on a stretcher.
Meghan Markle and husband Prince Harry are pictured as she presents him with a trophy after his polo victory
His condition was so serious that he was moved overnight to a hospital across the border in the US, just a few hours drive from his daughter’s mansion in Montecito, Santa Barbara.
Thomas is now communicating with family members and close friends via text message but is unable to speak, with the likelihood of a long recovery process ahead.
His son Thomas Markle Junior is currently on a mercy dash to be by his father’s side, while his wheelchair bound daughter Samantha – herself recovering from a recent health issue – is desperate to join him from Florida as soon as possible.
The only offspring he has not heard from is his Duchess daughter who has the means to provide him with the best medical care money can buy in the highly expensive US health system.
That emotional anguish has dominated Thomas’s thinking and his overwhelming wish is that he is able to meet his grandchildren, Archie, three, and Lilibet, 11 months, before it is too late.
He has had to a sedentary lifestyle as a virtual recluse since his heart attack and the pandemic, but has battled to turn his health around.
I have got to know Thomas over many years now – and he is a good soul whose family means everything to him.
I pray for his recovery.
But, even more, I pray that something positive comes out of this brush with death for Thomas: A reunion with his estranged daughter he loves so much who, before she entered the Royal Family, she used to publicly praise as her beloved ‘daddy’ on social media websites.