Meghan Markle's father Thomas says his heart will take 'a long time to heal'

Robert Jobson, Lizzie Edmonds, JOnathan Prynn
Thomas Markle, 73, is recovering in hospital after surgery following a heart attack: Daily Mail

Meghan Markle’s father today said he would take “a long time to heal” after his heart operation as the final detailed preparations for Saturday’s royal wedding got underway in Windsor.

Thomas Markle, 73, told the TMZ celebrity news website he was recovering in hospital after surgery following a heart attack in the aftermath of the ‘fake’ paparazzi photo scandal.

The retired Hollywood lighting director said: “I’m okay. It takes a long time to heal. Staying in the hospital a few more days. Not allowed to get excited.”

The bride’s mother Doria Ragland is widely tipped as the most likely stand in after Meghan Markle confirmed her father would not be able to make the trip.

She spent the night at Kensington Palace after arriving at Heathrow yesterday following a ten hour flight from Los Angeles.

Quick march: personnel from the Armed Forces stage a dress rehearsal through Windsor today. (Jeremy Selwyn)

Meanwhile more members of the bride’s circle of closest friends - known as Team Meghan - have been seen gathering in London.

The New York based fashion designer Misha Nonoo, 31 who is credited as the matchmaker who first brought the couple together, posted an Instagram picture of herself walking down a London street.

(Media-Mode / Splash News)

Sarah Rafferty, 45, a co-star in the TV legal drama Suits that made Meghan’s name, was photographed with her family sight-seeing at Buckingham Palace.

Pals: Meghan Markle and Sarah Rafferty

Two more actors in the show, Jacinda Barrett, 45 and her husband Gabriel Macht, 46, also posted an Instagram picture of themeselves in Hyde Park.

A full scale dress rehearsal for the noon wedding at St George’s Chapel involving hundreds of members of the armed forces closed roads around Windsor Castle two hours ahead of its 11am start this morning.

Members of the Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving, the Royal Marines, The Household Cavalry and 3 Regiment Army Air Corps are all participating in the dry run just 48 hours before the wedding is beamed to the hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

Royal super fans also began to gather in the Berkshire town, all desperate to get the best spot to catch glimpses of the couple who will go on a 25-minute carriage ride through the town.

By 9am, groups of locals and tourists had gathered along the streets of town centre out towards the Long Walk - where the main part of the procession will take place- ready to watch the reheasal.

Michelle Poggi, 47, who flew in from Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday for the wedding and was stationed just meters from the entrance of Windsor Castle.

She spent her first night camped out last night, and said: “It was cold. But I love the Royals and everything they stand for. I have watched Harry grow up. I wanted to be a part of this. You can’t get this atmosphere here on the television.”

The paramedic was stationed next to Faith Nicholson, 56, from Poplar in east London.

She arrived last night after work. The disability liaison officer said: “I have been to all the royal weddings and one funeral, Diana’s. The wedding will be an amazing day and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I would tell anyone who is sitting at home now to get off their back sides and get down here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Anne Daily and her Cavalier King Charles dog, called Camilla, had set up camp just down the road.

Ms Daily, who was wearing a veil this morning, said she and her dog were hosting a hen party for Meghan on the streets tonight. “We’ll maybe have some Lucozade and a bit of a party,” she said. We met the couple when they came to visit Cardiff Castle. She was lovely. I have been to a lot of the weddings and I wouldn’t miss this one. Seeing Harry so happy now after all the sadness he has had in his life, that is really wonderful.”

Some entrepreneurial locals had even started selling make-shift Meghan and Harry memorabilia. Tracey Ball was selling £10 caps and £15 scarves. She said: “Friday and Saturday will be my biggest days. It won’t be like working being here. It’s nice to be a part of it.”

However, the last minute preparations were once again overshadowed by the “soap opera” surrounding Meghan’s extended family. Her half-sister, Samantha Markle, was reportedly injured following a “paparazzi confrontation” in Florida. Her partner, named by TMZ as Mark, told the website that their car hit a concrete barrier after attempting to avoid a photographer. Ms Markle is said to have been left with a broken ankle and a fractured knee and is receiving treatment in hospital,

Meghan was also facing fresh embarrassment from her estranged half brother Thomas Markle Jr, who visited Windsor to see where his sibling will marry Prince Harry.

The outspoken sibling, who urged Harry not to wed his sister in an open letter told the Mirror: “My dad will be heartbroken that he cannot be with Meg in Windsor to walk her down the aisle. He would have moved heaven and earth to be there.”

But Mr Markle Jr also said his sister will be a “perfect modern princess” and “one of the best things ever to have happened to the royal family”.