MEGHAN Markle and Thomas Markle’s fragile relationship looks rockier than ever as he could now testify against his daughter in her bombshell court case.
But with tensions running high over the personal letter he leaked from Meghan – and him being still yet to meet Harry and grandson Archie – it’s hard to believe the duchess was once considered a “daddy’s girl”.
This week, the Mail on Sunday has even claimed that Meghan was behind a devastating smear campaign against Thomas.
However, fans of the royal mum will know that the 38-year-old's relationship with her estranged 75-year-old father hasn't always been so tumultuous.
In fact, her Emmy-winning dad was once her biggest inspiration – and in blog posts from her now-defunct website, The Tig, Meghan revealed the sacrifices her father made so she could have "so much".
Here Fabulous Digital looks at how their tight bond broke down over the years, from a series of damaging outbursts from Thomas and painful texts on both ends…
In the past, Meghan has spoken in detail about her modest upbringing, in a "leafy and affordable" neighbourhood with yoga instructor mum, Doria Ragland, and lighting director dad Thomas.
She described how her mum and dad taught her the importance of kindness and hard work, and how t or donate spare change for those in need.
She told Elle: “I had the most hard working father, a television director by trade.
"My parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it."
Thomas would describe her in similarly admiring terms, saying “my daughter has been a princess since the day she was born.”
He and Doria got hitched in 1979 but separated when Meghan was six but Thomas, who nows lives in Mexico, remained close to his LA-based daughter.
In a personal essay written for ELLE four years ago, Meghan gushed about her, describing him as "the most hardworking father".
HER WAY INTO HOLLYWOOD
It was Thomas' career in the television industry that inspired Meghan to become an actress, and he stood by every step of the way.
She wrote on her now-defunct lifestyle blog The Tig: “I think of so many moments with my dad. Our club sandwich and fruit smoothie tradition post my tap & ballet class — classes, which by the way, he religiously took me to on Saturday mornings after working 75+ hours a week as a lighting director.
"The blood, sweat and tears this man (who came from so little in a small town in Pennsylvania, where Christmas stockings were filled with oranges, and dinners were potatoes and spam) invested in my future so that I could grow up and have so much.
"He put gas in my car when I went from audition to audition trying to make it as an actress.
“He is the person who believed in this grand dream of mine well before I could even see it as a possibility.
"And that, right there, is my point: my dad taught me to find my light."
According to Meghan's half-brother Tom Jr, Thomas Sr reportedly paid for Meghan's school fees after winning £560,000 on the lottery in 1990.
THOMAS' FAVOURITE CHILD
Royal biographer Andrew Morton claims that as Thomas' favourite of his three children, Meghan would always get whatever she asked for at Christmas – no matter how expensive.
In his book Meghan Markle: A Hollywood Princess, Andrew describes how Samantha "often told the story of the time before Christmas when Meghan was looking at a jewellery catalogue and picking out a ring, which Tom Senior promised as a gift."
What's more, Meghan's thoughtful father even bought his youngest daughter two sets of dolls of different races to echo her mixed-race household.
The biographer added: "He bought one with black dolls, one with white and mixed them together to represent Meghan's own family.”
FIRST SIGNS OF FRACTURES
Meghan first told of her fractured relationship with her father in a candid home video shot in 1999 by her best friend.
The actress was filmed by former pal Ninaki Priddy as they drove around Los Angeles chatting about an upcoming audition.
But as they neared divorced dad Thomas’s home in the city the mood changed — Meghan said: “We aren’t going to go there.”
Meghan confided in a pal about her difficult relationship with dad Thomas — saying: “From dad’s house you can see the Hollywood sign.
“But we aren’t going to go there because my dad and I aren’t on the best of terms. I’d like to stop and see if I have any mail, but let’s just say I doubt it.”
GUSHING SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
It is clear from her old social media updates Meghan had a lot of love for her father despite starting to growing apart.
The star shared a throwback snap of her with her father when she was a baby, and wrote on Instagram in 2016: "Happy Father's Day, daddy.
"I'm still your buckaroo, and to this day your hugs are still the very best in the whole wide world.
"Thanks for my work ethic, my love of Busby Berkeley films & club sandwiches, for teaching me the importance of handwritten thank you notes, and for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you xo -Bean."
ENGAGED WITHOUT THOMAS MEETING HARRY
Meghan announced she was engaged to Prince Harry in November 2017, and didn’t introduce Thomas to Harry before this took place.
A friend ‘shed light’ on Thomas and their relationship, saying: “He’s always been a bit of a slob, selfish with no emotional intelligence.
“They didn’t really connect when she was growing up as a girl and didn’t bond when she was a woman.
“There were periods when they were closer — he helped her move to Toronto when she started Suits (in 2012). But as he’s become older he’s become much more reclusive.
“She has helped him many times financially. But there just comes a point when you have to let go.
“Hence why she didn’t feel Harry had to meet him or that she needed her dad’s approval to get married.”
SELLING STAGED PAP PHOTOS
In early May 2018, Thomas was spotted looking up the soon to be royal spouses in an internet cafe in Mexico.
Thomas viewed pictures of the pair and read news items about them during 20 minutes at an internet café in the town where he lives.
He later made the bombshell revelation he was paid to pose for staged paparazzi pictures sold to news outlets worldwide, which he described on Good Morning Britain as “a mistake”.
He told hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid: "I thought it would be a nice way of improving my look, but obviously that all went to hell.”
Despite their once-close relationship, Thomas was unable to attend Meghan's wedding to Prince Harry in May.
According to court documents, Thomas messaged his daughter saying he couldn't come to her wedding because he had been rushed to hospital for emergency heart surgery and told not to fly on health grounds.
He said he received a text that appeared to be from Prince Harry, accusing him of causing hurt to his daughter and did not ask about his health, leaving him "deeply hurt".
In return, Thomas wrote: "I've done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else … I'm sorry my heart attack is … any inconvenience for you."
The duchess was walked down the aisle by Prince Charles, and Doria was the only family member to attend.
Meghan reportedly did not reply to her father’s messages following up after the wedding.
REVEALING HER PERSONAL LETTER
In August, Thomas released extracts from the five-page letter that Meghan wrote to him three months after her May 2018 wedding.
The message saw the Duchess of Sussex accuse him of "creating so much pain" and "exploiting" her relationship with the Prince.
In the handwritten note, Meghan begged her dad to stop lying and let them “live our lives in peace”.
In elegant handwriting, Meghan told her "daddy" that her heart had been broken "into a million pieces" over his behaviour.
She wrote: "If you love me… allow us to live our lives in peace. Please stop lying, please stop creating so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband."
Meghan is now suing the Mail on Sunday for damages after it published the leaked letter and claims it was misuse of her private information and breach of copyright.
MEGHAN IGNORING TEXTS
Meghan's estranged father spoke with Good Morning Britain in December 2018 in an attempt to reconnect with his daughter.
He said he had not spoken to since she married Prince Harry – a man he is yet to meet.
The American also said he was hoping the Queen would step in to resolve the family rift.
Thomas said: "I would appreciate anything she can do. I would think she would want to resolve the family problems."
The unpaid TV interview comes as the dad said he had been texting his daughter everyday in an attempt to reconnect with her – but has been met with radio silence.
He said: "I'm very disappointed by it. Everyday I try to text her, I just haven't received anything back.”
He also revealed he found out she was pregnant after hearing it announced on the radio.
Thomas is now prepared to take the stand against the Duchess of Sussex as a key witness for the defence in a court case she has brought against the Mail on Sunday over the leaked letter, according to the Mail.
Thomas has given lawyers previously unseen text messages sent in the build-up to Meghan's wedding.
Court documents filed at London’s High Court outlined the extent of her fall out with her dad — and claimed she was behind a smear campaign against him.
The documents have been filed by the Mail On Sunday as it fights a legal action bought by Meghan.
They say intimate details of her broken relationship with Thomas, revealed in a US magazine by five “friends,” could only have come from her.
They also accuse Meghan of scheming to use friends to pressure UK journalists into dropping stories about her.
Meghan was seen last night for the first time since the “Megxit” crisis exploded — leaving her Canadian hideaway in a seaplane.
The Duchess, has been lying low at an £11million retreat on Vancouver Island while Prince Harry thrashed out their royal breakaway deal in Britain.
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