Thomas Markle has told how he cried as he watched his daughter’s wedding on television in a small rented hide-out, in a tell-all interview in which he claims Prince Harry was "open" to Brexit.
Mr Markle, who said he was “jealous” as the Prince of Wales walked his daughter down the aisle as he was receiving treatment for a heart attack, has spoken to Good Morning Britain in an extraordinary interview detailing private political conversations.
Claiming Prince Harry had once told him to “give Donald Trump a chance”, the 73-year-old alleged the sixth-in-line to the throne had seemed “open” to the idea of Brexit.
Mr Markle told how his daughter, then actress Meghan Markle, had confided in him that she had a new boyfriend, before eventually revealing he was British, then that he was a Prince they should call him “H” for security reasons.
He spoke to the Prince straight afterwards, he said, getting to know him over the telephone before giving his blessing to their marriage following their engagement in November.
“Meghan told me first and then a few times after that Harry got on the phone with her and asked for her hand over the phone,” he said.
“I said you’re a gentleman, promise me you’ll never raise a hand against my daughter and of course I give you my permission.”
Saying his new son-in-law was “great” and an “interesting guy”, Mr Markle said he “made a great pick” in his daughter, who has been a “princess since the day she was born”.
Revealing that he watched the ceremony from a television in a room rented for him by friends in California, Mr Markle said he had been “jealous” that he was left as a “footnote in history”, but said “thank God” that the Prince of Wales, whom he has never spoken to, was there to step in.
Prince Harry's private views on Trump and Brexit
In an interview unlikely to have been sanctioned by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex or Kensington Palace, Mr Markle said he had come to know the “smart” Prince Harry over the phone in a series of “interesting conversations” in which they allegedly discussed his private political views.
“I was complaining I didn’t like Donald Trump,” said Mr Markle. “He said give Donald Trump a chance. I sort of disagreed with that but I still like Harry. That was his politics, I have my politics.”
Asked whether he believed the newlywed Duke was still a fan, he added: “I would hope not now, but at the time he might have been.”
On the subject of Brexit, he said: “It was just a loose conversation about something we have to try. There was no real commitment for it. I think he was open to the experiment.”
On grandchildren: 'There’s got to be a child in the making there soon'
Mr Markle said that he expects his daughter will want to try for children soon.
Asked whether a “stork” had paid a visit to the palace yet, Mr Markle said: “She’s wanted children for a long time.
“When she met Harry and she spoke about how much she loves him... there’s got to be a child in the making there soon.”
'Meghan cried': Moment he told couple he would not make wedding
Saying he had “absolutely” wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle, he disclosed he had spoken with Prince Harry, Ms Markle and one of their security staff about his trip to the UK shortly before being admitted to hospital with heart problems for a second time.
After learning how severe they were, he said, he had to tell his daughter he would not make her wedding, leaving her concerned and in tears.
Talking about the moment he told his daughter and her husband-to-be that he would not make the wedding, Mr Markle said: "They were disappointed. Meghan cried, I'm sure, and they both said 'Take care of yourself, we are really worried about you'."
He added: "I absolutely wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle."
The father-of-the-bride speech he never got to make
The retired TV lighting director disclosed he had cried as he watched the royal ceremony on television, describing his daughter as "beautiful".
"It was incredible watching her," he said. "I was very proud. I was very upset that it wasn't me (walking her down the aisle) but the whole world was watching my daughter. I was very happy about that.
"The unfortunate thing for me now is I'm a footnote in one of the greatest moments in history rather than the dad walking her down the aisle. That upsets me somewhat."
Saying he had prepared a speech for the big day, Mr Markle told GMB he had hoped to regale wedding guests with the story of how he had told her about "this nice British guy" before thanking the Royal family for welcoming her.
"I couldn't be more proud of those two, I think they'll do a fabulous job," he said. "They're great and I love then dearly. I'm very happy to have a new son-in-law."
'I feel bad about it': Apology for paparazzi stunt
Asked about his own actions before the wedding, which included a series of photography shoots set up with the paparazzi, Mr Markle said "I accept full responsibility. I can say I'm sorry for those things for the rest of my life, but I'm paying for those things for the rest of my life.
"But as long as they're happy and have a great life and have some beautiful children and do good things in the world, I'm can't ask for more."
Asked about the much-publicised episode, which saw him exposed for colluding with the paparazzi days before the royal wedding, Mr Markle said he had not done it for the money but to improve his image.
“Obviously that all went to hell,” he said. “I feel bad about it, I apologise for it and that’s all I can do. That was a mistake.”
'I look forward to coming to London': Hopes for visit
Mr Markle said dozens of members of his daughter's family had come out of the woodwork demanding wedding invitations, saying he thought it "very smart" of her not to have them in Windsor.
Saying he had spoken to the happy couple the day after their wedding, telling his daughter "it was fabulous, she looked beautiful".
As they discussed visiting him in Mexico, Mr Markle claimed he told the newlyweds it was a "bad idea", due to the Press around his house, and that "I wished they would go on a honeymoon".
Saying he had not yet met the Duke or his family in person, he said: "I look forward to coming to London and seeing them soon, I would love to."
Adding that he knows the couple are "very busy", he spoke of his admiration for the Queen he described as "one of the most incredible women in the world".
Father hopes he has not offended couple with interview
Mr Markle said he hopes he has not offended his daughter and Prince Harry by appearing on GMB for the interview.
He said: "I hope I haven't offended them, I don't think I have, they know I love them and I hope the royals - the Royal family - will understand my feelings as well."
He also told the programme about how he "mixed up" a set of white dolls and black dolls when Meghan was a child because "that was normal to me and that's the way I wanted my daughter to feel."
Mr Markle said that he opted to take part in the interview because he wanted people to know he is a "normal guy" and because he wants to have a good relationship with Meghan and Harry.
He said: "Over the last few weeks, everybody has had different opinions, some people said I was faking my heart attack, some people said I was skipping out, all kinds of stories were coming out about me, negative ones.
"But I just want people to know I'm a normal guy, I'm a retired man and I was living a quiet little life and this happened, and lots of things happened around it, and I've tried to survive through that, but more than anything I don't want my daughter or new son-in-law to be hurt by any of this. I want to have a nice, normal relationship with my royal family as well now."