Doubts over whether Meghan Markle’s father will walk her down the aisle continue with just days to go until the royal wedding.
The American former actress’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, said she hoped Thomas Markle would be at the ceremony, but that he had faced an “unbelievable amount of stress”.
Bride-to-be Meghan is reported to be trying to persuade her father to accompany her in St George’s Chapel on her big day.
Samantha Markle told Good Morning Britain that Mr Markle had health issues, and had had chest pains and suffered a heart attack.
But it was not clear whether doctors had diagnosed a medical emergency.
“I think he wants to go to the hospital and get checked out,” she said.
I wanted to see him go (to the wedding)...
But clearly the priority should be whether or not it's safe for him to do that. That's where we're atSamantha Markle
“I don’t know as of today what his plans are, but there’s a very real concern. I wanted to see him go (to the wedding), I didn’t want him deprived of that.
“But clearly the priority should be whether or not it’s safe for him to do that.
“That’s where we’re at.”
Mr Markle became embroiled in controversy after he allegedly staged paparazzi photographs of himself in the run-up to the nuptials at Windsor Castle this Saturday.
Celebrity website TMZ claimed Mr Markle had decided not to go to the wedding for fear of embarrassing his daughter following the fallout from the pictures.
Kensington Palace declined to confirm whether or not Mr Markle had pulled out of attending but appealed for understanding.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding. She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation."— PA Royal Reporters (@PARoyal) May 14, 2018
A palace spokesman said: “This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding.
“She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation.”
Samantha Markle defended Mr Markle, saying he had been pressurised into a dangerous situation because of press intrusion.
“He was living a very quiet, peaceful life, not as a recluse. He’s a very intelligent man. He’s been gregarious and worked in entertainment for 40 years,” she said.
“He had spoken with press and was doing just that, but when he called me, panicking on the freeway because he’s in a dangerous situation being followed by seven or eight cars, I think there have been examples in history of how dangerous that can be.”
She earlier attempted to shoulder some of the blame when she tweeted that it was her idea for Mr Markle to pose for what she described as “positive photos” in a bid to combat his “bad” portrayal in the press, but insisted it was not done for money.
Pictures published earlier this month in newspapers and websites showed Mr Markle in a series of royal wedding-related activities such as being fitted for a suit, apparently unaware he was being snapped.
The Mail On Sunday newspaper reported that the images were staged and published CCTV footage stills of the US actress’s father in the internet cafe with a photographer.
The former TV lighting director was due to meet the Queen and other royals with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, this week ahead of the wedding.
Meghan’s father met her mother on the set of the US soap General Hospital, where he worked as a lighting director when she was a temp in the studio. They divorced when Meghan was six.
Ms Ragland is being tipped to step in and accompany her daughter down the aisle instead.