Meghan Markle's father, Thomas Markle Sr., is "deeply embarrassed" after the Daily Mail discovered him working with a photographer to stage paparazzi photos. The staged photos were published just 10 days before Markle will marry Prince Harry.
"He’ll apologize sincerely to Meg," Thomas Markle Jr. told Mirror of his father. A friend also told the Mirror that Markle Sr. is "deeply embarrassed" by the incident.
“People are quick to judge but they have no idea how much scrutiny we live under," Markle Jr. added.
On Sunday, the Daily Mail published surveillance footage appearing to show the 73-year-old Markle Sr. arriving at an internet cafe with photographer Jeff Rayner in Rosarito, Mexico, where he now lives. The two appear to be staging a photo of Markle Sr. looking at a photo of his daughter and Prince Harry on a computer screen.
According to the Daily Mail, the Internet cafe photo was just one of several images sold to newspapers around the world that were taken with Markle Sr.'s cooperation. The others show him working out with weights to apparently get in shape for the wedding, getting measured by a "tailor" for a custom suit and looking at a book on British landmarks in a Starbucks.
It is estimated that the photos sold for up to £100,000, or about $135,500.
In its investigation into the scheme, the Daily Mail found the "tailor" was really a 17-year-old assistant at a party goods shop. Markle Sr. and the photographer chose the party shop for the photos because they arrived at the suit store after it closed.
"It was really strange. This big American guy got the measuring tape out of his pocket and he was saying things in English. I don’t speak good English but I understood what he wanted me to do. The photographer he was with stepped back to the street and started taking pictures," said David Flores, the party goods shop assistant.
"The big man was showing me what to do with the tape, holding it across himself," Flores continued. "I just went along with it. I was telling him the measurements but he didn’t write them down or anything."
According to the Mail, the photos in the internet cafe were taken on March 27, and the visit to the party goods shop was photographed the day before. However, the photos were sold to newspapers on different days throughout April.
Rayner co-owns the photo agency Coleman-Rayner in Los Angeles. He had no comment when contacted by the Mail.
The revelations come as the Royal Family prepares for the wedding on May 19, when Markle Sr. will meet Prince Harry for the first time in person.
Prince Harry also issued a strongly-worded statement in 2016 because of the paparazzi's obsession with Markle and her family, as well as the U.K. media's headlines about her race. The Royal Family said Prince Harry feared for Markle's safety, especially since his mother, Princess Diana, died in 1997 while being hounded by the paparazzi.
"Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment," the November 2016 statement from Kensington Palace read. "Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public - the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life."