What You Don't Know About Meghan Markle's Dad

To say that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been surrounded by controversy throughout their relationship is an understatement. From their jaw-dropping interview with Oprah Winfrey, to their very public feud with Prince William, it's safe to say that the ex-royal couple has stayed in the headlines, whether or not they've wanted to. After leaving the royal family in early 2020 and moving to the United States, Harry and Meghan have tried to redefine themselves in the public eye, turning their attention to their foundation and advocacy work. But one scandal that absolutely will not leave them alone is Meghan's relationship with her father, Thomas Markle.

For those of you who aren't die-hard royal fans, you should know that Thomas made waves when confusion surrounding his attendance at the royal wedding began to circulate. Between rumored fake "health scares" to threatening to sue his daughter over visitation rights of his grandchildren, Thomas has made it clear that there is bad blood between him and Meghan. But how did that come to be? Who is Thomas Markle and what has his life looked like? Here's what you don't know about Meghan Markle's dad.

Thomas Markle got his start in the entertainment industry

Thomas Markle was born in Newport, Pennsylvania, in 1944. He spent his childhood in the "Keystone State" before turning his attention to the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. As noted by Hollywood Life, Meghan Markle's dad worked his way up in the entertainment industry as a lighting director, and started his career in the 1970s for Chicago's WTTW-TV Channel 11. He clearly was very talented at his chosen field, because in 1975, he was the recipient of the Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence: Non Performers due to his professional lighting work on the "Made in Chicago" show. 

In addition to his work on "Made in Chicago," Thomas also worked on shows including "Married With Children," "The Facts of Life," and "General Hospital," the latter of which resulting in two more Daytime Emmy Awards for the lighting designer: Outstanding Achievement in Design Excellence for a Daytime Drama Series in 1982, and Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Drama Series in 2011, per Hollywood Life. It's clear that Meghan had a successful example of entertainment industry success, given that her father — despite their differences — was a respected professional in his field.

Meghan Markle's dad got married for the first time in 1964

If you've ever heard about Meghan Markle's siblings making their rounds in the media circuit, you might be wondering if said siblings are fully related to her, half-siblings, etc. What is the case? Well, according to Hollywood Life, Thomas Markle married his first wife, Roslyn Loveless, in 1964. The two met during a party at the University of Chicago, and eventually tied the knot. While they were together, Thomas and Loveless had two children — Yvonne Marie Markle (who you most likely know as Samantha Markle), and Thomas Wayne Markle Jr., who were born in 1964 and 1966 respectively. The couple eventually split in 1975. 

So to answer any remaining questions, the two siblings who have essentially ridden Meghan's coattails into the spotlight are her half-siblings, and Samantha specifically has made it her mission, it seems, to call Meghan out over her supposed treatment of their father. Despite not having not spoken to her half-sister since 2008, Samantha told Us Weekly that Meghan "doesn't have a heart" when it comes to their father. "[Meghan] would [be] doing everything she could to make him comfortable, and reciprocate, and be loving and gracious," if she cared about her father, Samantha said.

Meghan Markle's parents were only married for eight years

Even if you don't consider yourself to be a fan of the royal family, you've probably seen photographs of Meghan Markle and her mom, Doria Ragland, out and about together. The two are obviously very close, which begs the question as to the status of Doria's relationship with Meghan's father, Thomas Markle. Well, as noted by the Daily Mail, Doria and Thomas got married in Los Angeles in a "wacky" ceremony at the Self-Realisation Fellowship Temple on December 23, 1979. The bride and groom were accompanied at the altar with "gold orb-topped turrets, stone elephants and plastic Buddhas" and their wedding invitation noted that the celebration would be "a fresh new day ... and it is ours." Doria was just 23 at the time, but observing the photos, the couple seemed to be incredibly happy. 

"It was a lovely wedding," Meghan's uncle, Joseph Johnson, shared. A lovely sentiment, but things didn't stay cheery between the couple for that long. After welcoming Meghan on August 4, 1981, Doria and Thomas only stayed together for two more years before separating, as per Hollywood Life. Their divorce was confirmed in 1987.

Thomas Markle took his daughter to sets when she was little

When we think about Meghan Markle's relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, the words "tense" and "complicated" might come to mind. But when she was little, Meghan had a closer bond with her father, and he made a point of taking her to film and television sets as a kid — that explains a lot, given Meghan's successful acting career. As noted by Hollywood Life, Thomas would "often" take Meghan along with him to set, which certainly seems like a dream scenario for a little kid destined to become a prominent actress. But to say that their relationship was close, even when Meghan was young, is an overstatement. 

According to the Daily Mail, Thomas worked "crazy" hours when Meghan was young, and the responsibility of raising her fell on Doria Ragland, her mother, significantly. "Culturally our family did not have male figures around. The women were the ones left to raise the children. And Meghan was lucky my sister and mother were tough, fair, funny and smart," Meghan's uncle, Joseph Johnson, shared. "Meghan was raised by her mother and grandmother, two beautiful, strong black women who instilled in her a sense of self-belief."

Thomas Markle once won the California state lottery

Here's something we definitely didn't expect to find out about Thomas Markle — he once won the California State Lottery. We have all the details. Andrew Morton, known for his biography of Diana Spencer, wrote a book about Meghan Markle entitled "Meghan: A Hollywood Princess," where he revealed that Thomas won the lottery when Meghan was young. Thomas' story, however, is not a fairytale, because he ended up losing a significant chunk of the money. 

In an excerpt of the book published by The Times, Morton revealed that Thomas often purchased lottery tickets — it wasn't a purchase he just made on special occasions — and he reportedly spent "thousands of dollars pressing his luck." His gamble eventually paid off, to an extent, and he ended up collecting a $750,000 payout from the California State Lottery in 1990. Meghan was nine years old at the time. Thomas' winning numbers included digits from none other than Meghan's birthday, and the senior Markle had a pretty big payday as a result. In 2021 money, the payout equates to $1.58 million. Thomas didn't hold onto the money for long, but more on that later.

Meghan's dad paid for her to go to school

Before Meghan Markle's father lost his lottery money, he did put some of it to good use. When it came to Meghan, Thomas Markle used some of the money to help his daughter in her academic pursuits, which is certainly a good use of it. "If Meg marries Harry she'll have won the lottery of life but dad winning the lottery helped us all," Meghan's brother, Thomas Markle Jr., told Mail on Sunday (via the Independent). "That money allowed Meg to go to the best schools and get the best training. Meg is someone who has always had laser focus. She knows what she wants and she doesn't stop until she gets it," he continued. 

As for Meghan's education, she certainly didn't settle for anything less than best. According to Business Insider, she was "a star in the classroom" while attending the all-girls private school, Immaculate Heart. After leaving the Catholic high school (where she was also made Homecoming Queen), Meghan went on to attend Northwestern University. While at university, the future duchess studied both theatre and international studies — it's almost like she knew a future in international affairs would await her.

Despite professional success, Thomas Markle filed for bankruptcy in 2016

Thomas Markle certainly seemed to have a fall from grace. While making himself known as an award winning lighting designer and even winning the lottery, financial stability did not follow him. As noted by The Times, Meghan Markle's father was divorcing her mother at the time of his big win, and to "avoid further financial difficulties" due to his divorce, he had a friend collect his earnings for him. The same friend then talked him into investing a chunk of the money into a jewelry business, but the venture collapsed and as a result, so did Thomas' money — doesn't sound like the best sort of friend to have around. 

As such, Thomas declared bankruptcy, and according to the Daily Mail, cited a debt of $30,000. But the father of three did put some of the lottery earned money to good use before it all went down the drain. As aforementioned, he helped Meghan pay for her academic pursuits, and The Times also noted that he gave some of the winnings to Thomas Markle Jr. in order for him to start a flower business. Thomas Sr. also purchased his daughter, Samantha Markle, a car.

The relationship between Thomas and Meghan deteriorated further after this stunt

All eyes were on Meghan Markle when it was announced that she and Prince Harry would be tying the knot. The second son of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer was arguably the world's most eligible bachelor, and so many of us were jealous when the gorgeous actress swept the prince off his feet. However, not everyone was thrilled with the attention, and Thomas Markle was reportedly very bothered by the "harassment" that he was facing at the hands of the paparazzi. In the wake of his complaint, Kensington Palace released a statement, asking publishers to maintain distance with Thomas, as per the Daily Mail

But did you know that Thomas "secretly collaborated" with members of the British paparazzi in order to stage photos of him reading about Great Britain? Yes, even after Harry made a public statement asking the cameras to leave the retired lighting designer alone. The photos in question that Thomas staged allowed him and the photographer, Jeff Rayner, to bag about $132,000. The two met at an internet cafe, and were seen on CCTV cameras staging the photos with Thomas reading an article about Meghan and Harry.

Things got even more sour between father and daughter after Thomas's health hit the headlines

The staged photos aforementioned was a blow to Meghan Markle. At the time, Thomas Markle was still set to walk Meghan down the aisle, but the photos turned those plans upside down. As noted by the Daily Mail, Thomas reportedly suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery shortly after the staged photo story came to light, but even that report was put under the microscope. 

A source close to Meghan told the Daily Mail, "The whole story about Meghan's father undergoing heart surgery was made up" as a "ploy" for him to skip the wedding. And of course, where there was criticism against Meghan was her half-sister, Samantha Markle, who chimed in about the ongoings. Unbeknownst to some people, Samantha claimed at the time that if her father were to die due to his heart attack, it would be Meghan's fault. But to make the situation even more complicated, the Daily Mail contacted the hospital in question to confirm Thomas' procedure, and the hospital had "no such name" in their system. It was a mess, and Prince Charles ended up walking Meghan down the aisle. 

Thomas and Meghan have been dueling in court

It's easy to get caught up in the "he said, she said" nature of Thomas Markle and Meghan Markle's relationship, but did you know that the court is involved? As noted by The Guardian, Thomas and Meghan are pretty much going head to head over the contents of a letter published by the Mail on Sunday, and it's an ongoing fight that is pretty brutal to say the least. 

Back in February, Meghan won a lawsuit against Mail on Sunday regarding a "personal and private" letter from her to her father that her father had then handed over to the publication for distribution. The high court ruled the case in her favor, and determined that publishing the letter was "manifestly excessive and hence unlawful." As of publication, the letter is back on the legal forefront as the legal defense for the Mail on Sunday have argued that Meghan was the orchestrator of a "nasty and untrue" People article regarding her father and the letter in question. The lawyers argued that Meghan wrote the letter to her father "with potential public consumption in mind." To say it's all a mess is an understatement.

Thomas Markle threatened to sue Meghan and Harry over his grandchildren

If the fight over the letters wasn't enough, did you know that Meghan Markle's dad threatened to sue her and Prince Harry over the visitation rights of his grandchildren, Archie and Lilibet? According to Page Six, Thomas Markle threatened legal action, as he has been virtually cut off from them (it is assumed that he has never met either grandchild). Thomas told the hosts of "Good Morning Britain" that Meghan was acting "childish" in her decision to have space in between her children and their grandfather, and he insinuated that legal action could come as a result. 

"I'd love to see my grandchildren. People have suggested in California I could sue to see my grandkids," he said, sharing that "several lawyers" had given him their thoughts on the matter. "But I think if I did that I'd be doing the same thing Meghan and Harry are doing," he continued, alluding to the perceived media-grabbing behavior that Meghan and Harry have been accused of. He went on to say that he doesn't want Archie or Lilibet to be "in this situation," but rather he wants to see them both "with friendly parents and friendship all around."

Megan Markle's dad thinks that one day, she will resume talking to him

It's hard to imagine that Meghan Markle would want anything to do with her father given the headline wars — but the estranged father told the hosts of "Good Morning Britain" that he still thinks Meghan will reconnect. Page Six reported that Thomas Markle hasn't seen Meghan since before her wedding to Prince Harry, and since has been targeting her in the media. But he went on to tell "Good Morning Britain" hosts Richard Madeley and Susanna Reid that regardless of hearing "not a word" from the royal couple, he is adamant that a relationship between them will happen in the future. 

"Eventually she'll start talking to me. This is way too childish, this is kind of silly," Thomas said. "It's time to talk with each other, we're family. The kids are going to grow up without knowing they have two families." He went on to say that the situation between him and his daughter involves far more than just the two of them — but rather because it involves Harry, Archie, and Lilibet, "it's time to do something. To talk." Time will tell.

Thomas Markle categorized his daughter as this

We were really surprised when we came across this tidbit about Thomas Markle, but alas, the man is full of shocking confessions. When we think of Meghan Markle, we think of descriptors such as ambitious, compassionate, fashionable — but when it comes to her father, Thomas doesn't see his daughter in the same light. He told GB News that Meghan does not have "any ambition," especially when it comes to a future career in politics. 

Meghan stirred up attention when she lobbied U.S. politicians for paid parental leave, and rumors about a potential run for public office have always swirled around her (especially since she now lives back in the United States). But Thomas shared that he doesn't think his daughter has what it takes, and shared that the whole idea is laughable to him. "I think that's a joke, from beginning to end, I think it's a complete joke," he said, as noted by Newsweek. "I don't think she has any ambition to be a mayor. I don't think she has any ambition to be a governor or president. I don't think that's in her mind at all. If someone's saying that, it might be cute."

Meghan Markle's father does not shy away from criticizing his daughter publicly

It's hard to think that Meghan Markle's father really wants a relationship with her again, because he never shies away from criticizing her publicly. Most recently as of publication, Thomas Markle came out against Meghan's recent appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" where she played a silly prank on unknowing vendors, with the funny talk show host telling her what to say through an earpiece. 

Thomas was (unsurprisingly) not a fan. He told The Mirror that the whole segment was a "stupid stunt" that was shameful to the royal family. "It's no way to behave. The whole thing was kind of embarrassing. It was certainly embarrassing for the royal family," he said. "It's embarrassing for her as well. I suspect it embarrassed everyone in the U.K., too." We were surprised that he'd have such an admission, but Thomas went on to say that he's "never seen a duchess behave this way," and that the appearance on the talk show was completely out of line for Meghan. Given that the funny video has over 2.1 million views on YouTube as of publication, we think Meghan is clearly doing something right.