Royals

Why Duchess Meghan owes Thomas Markle nothing - including an introduction to baby Archie

The word 'father' is not a password - actions speak louder than words.

By Marisa Bate
According to sources close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Duchess Meghan has made the "heartbreaking" decision to become estranged from her father, Thomas Markle, and not let him meet her son, Archie.
Despite once being close, relations broke down after Thomas Markle struck a deal to stage photos with a British paparazzo. I've never met the Duchess, but even I could have warned Thomas that this was properly a really bad idea. The suggestion that he'd collude with the British tabloids, who have been accused of bullying the Duchess, is spectacularly awful. And so, sources claim, she's protecting herself, Harry, their son, and moving on.
Yet according to the papers, Thomas Markle thought having a baby might "mellow" his daughter (is that Californian for "Calm down, dear?"), and bring an end to what he claims is 16 months of "ghosting" (this man is 75).
But he was wrong. Sources claim that although the Duchess is saddened by the reality of estrangement, she made the decision a while ago and is sticking to it – I imagine that now she's a parent herself, she finds his press-loving, wildly inappropriate behaviour towards his own his child even more distressing. (And by the way, the idea that having babies "softens" women is deeply noxious. I've watched enough wildlife programmes to understand it is, actually, the complete opposite of what happens).
The thing is Thomas Markle seems to have been wrong about a few things, and most fundamentally this: Meghan, and by extension, Harry and Archie, owe him absolutely nothing. Nada. Or in the Queen's English, bugger all.
Thomas Markle keeps mentioning the words "father" and "grandfather", like a broken bot, as if those words are magic passwords that will put him on the first flight to Frogmore. It's as if he thinks that if he says those words often enough, they will bulldoze a path to the heart of British monarchy, extreme wealth, oh, and yes, I almost forgot, his daughter.
But no matter how many times he declares his parental biology over that woman, those words mean nothing unless he acts upon them. And it doesn't take an expert to suppose that clearly Meghan feels Thomas Markle has not behaved as a father should. Screeching "father" at the Mail on Sunday can't undo that. If he wants the privilege of being the Duchess of Sussex's father, he should have behaved better.
And now the parental roles have seemingly switched. Thomas stomps his foot to any journalist who will listen, while Meghan, the grown-up, takes away the toys because he doesn't deserve them. Cue publicity-seeking tantrum.
Thomas insists that he has tried to reach out to his daughter but any serious effort is somewhat undermined by attempts to further humiliate her and her new husband by colluding with the press: "Why couldn't Prince Harry have got on a plane and flown to see me to ask for her hand?" he said to the Mail on Sunday. "He obviously has no problem getting on private jets."
Somehow, statements like this don't really suggest this is about him missing Meghan or wanting to fix a relationship or get to know Archie. It's about him feeling hard done by, it's about him getting in the press, it's about him.
And, finally, what he really can't fathom is that she doesn't need him. Clearly, she's got a wonderful relationship with her mother that is more than sustaining.
As the press likes to remind us, she's got a lot of good (A-list) friends and she has recently got married and become a mother – she clearly is doing A-OK without her father. Thomas Markle isn't alone in thinking this is impossible. The world wondered out loud how she was going to walk down the aisle on her wedding day without her dad. Miraculously, she managed it by putting one foot in front of the other.
Thomas Markle is relying on the tired idea that we need certain men in our lives to have full ones but when they cause more harm than good, that is just not true. He's relying on male privilege and the notion that his role automatically means he should be given a seat at the table. Again, not true. Men, even fathers, have to earn a right in your life. That's all there is to it.
This story was originally published on our sister site, Grazia, and has been republished on Now To Love with permission.