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What Meghan Markle's New Statement Really Means

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Just days before her wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle set the record straight: Her father, Thomas, will not be attending the nuptials. She confirmed the news in a statement released through Kensington Palace.

“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” she wrote. "I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday."

Meghan’s statement is incredibly rare, and perhaps even unprecedented, because it’s written in first person. And according to one royal expert, that may have been a sneaky way to get a message directly to Thomas.

Usually, royals deliver their statements through a representative of the royal family. Prince William and Kate Middleton, for example, have issued blistering statements about paparazzi attention on themselves and their children, but they have been written by their communications secretary, Jason Knauf, or through Clarence House, Prince Charles’ office.

Given that tradition, Meghan’s first-person statement is “incredibly significant,” says Duncan Larcombe, former royal editor of The Sun and author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story. Larcombe says the statement gives two clear messages: one to the press and one directly to her father.

According to Larcombe’s interpretation, Meghan is making it clear that she and the palace did, in fact, reach out to Thomas to help him deal with the media's onslaught. That’s what “I have always cared for my father” refers to.

“That is putting an end to speculation and accusations that Harry and Meghan didn’t offer a barrier of protection around Thomas Markle,” Larcombe says. “Things like giving him a hotline to the palace, and advice, as he’s suddenly thrust into the royal spotlight as a result of their engagement. She’s saying ‘cared for,’ and that means, ‘I did try my best.’”

The next part of that same sentence appears to be a message to Thomas: “and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.” And though it’s easy to read that part as a message for journalists to steer clear of him, it could also be read as the reverse, to keep Thomas away from the press. “Make no mistake, that means, ‘For goodness sake, Dad, stop talking to journalists,’” Larcombe says.

Both Prince William and Prince Harry have had tense relationships with the press their entire lives. And their tendency to keep quiet may have led them to this moment of crisis. Kate hasn’t released a statement like this in her time with the royal family, and perhaps that’s because she and William were slightly more open during their wedding planning-and because her family kept quiet.

“As we’ve seen with Harry and Meghan, more than William and Kate, they have been very tight lipped, and they have not issued lots of announcements about the wedding,” Larcombe says. “In that vacuum, Meghan’s estranged family members have taken their own initiative and done what they like.”

Because Meghan’s family members have been talking to the press, the palace is in an unprecedented situation, and that may have led to the unprecedented first-person statement. “It’s a last-ditch attempt to regain some control,” Larcombe says. “They desperately need to stop Meghan’s dad from talking to journalists. And how else do they do it? This is the only way they can do it.”

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