Meghan’s stunningly independent move
MEGHAN Markle has been escorted part-way down the aisle to her new husband by Prince Charles, after an extraordinary last-minute cancellation by her father.
The bride looked radiant in her gown, designed by Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy, as she was led by the arm through St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, while her new father-in-law smiled proudly.
Thomas Markle Sr spoke about his replacement yesterday, telling TMZ he was "honoured and grateful" that Prince Charles would be taking over.
He also said he would "proudly" watch the wedding on television from "a secluded place with friends, hopefully with no press."
While Prince Charles walked Ms Markle down the aisle at the royal wedding, she made the bold choice to complete part of the bridal procession alone.
After being dropped off at the chapel's entrance, a visibly nervous and excited Meghan then walked down the aisle of the nave unescorted. Harry's beaming father took her by the arm as she approached the quire, where the guests were seated, and chaperoned her to the foot of the altar.
In a stunning break from tradition, the glowing bride then approached Prince Harry alone - effectively meaning no one "gave her away."
The unprecedented arrangement, which Ms Markle came up with herself, would have reportedly been the same had her father Thomas Markle been well enough to attend the wedding.
Tonight's emotional scenes follows days of turmoil for the newest member of the royal family, who has had to deal with her family dramas playing out in a spectacularly public fashion ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry.
In April, Kensington Palace had confirmed that Thomas would be taking on the fatherly tradition of giving his daughter away at her wedding, but that all blew up in the days leading up to the big day.
Last Monday, the famously reclusive former TV lighting director insisted he could no longer attend after it was revealed that he had been staging paparazzi photos for cash, explaining that he didn't want to "embarrass" his daughter or the royal family any further. He also said he had recently had a heart attack.
The very next day, Thomas changed his mind, telling TMZ he wanted to attend the wedding after all.
But by Wednesday, it was all over. Thomas was forced to undergo major surgery for his "seriously damaged" heart, dashing any lingering plans he may have had to go to England.
Speculation had been mounting for days about who would replace him during the ceremony - with many even predicting that Meghan, 36, would break with tradition and go it alone.
Prince Charles was always a clear frontrunner to take on the job, although Meghan's mum Doria Ragland had also been in the running.
Technically, with the absence of a grandfather or father there on the day, Meghan's future father-in-law was the next closest thing.
Fortunately, Charles had no other official duty during the wedding, and had previously made it clear just how excited he and the Duchess of Cornwall are to welcome Meghan into their family.
Kensington Palace said in a statement on Friday: "Ms Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St George's Chapel on her wedding day.
"The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms Markle to the royal family in this way."
Meanwhile, LA-based yoga instructor Doria also played a significant part in the ceremony and the days beforehand, after spending the night with the bride at the exclusive and lavish Cliveden House last night, and then proudly escorting her to Windsor Castle.