Thomas Markle Jr, 51, of Grants Pass, Oregon, said the actress has a family who had ‘smothered her with love’ and made a point of celebrating every holiday together.
Their father, Thomas, is deeply hurt by the prince’s remarks, Markle Jr said. The prince has still to meet his fiancee’s father, who lives in Mexico, although he has met her mother, Doria Ragland, who lives in Los Angeles. The couple divorced when Meghan Markle was six.
On Wednesday, Harry, 33, told the BBC that former Suits star Meghan, 36, had enjoyed a ‘fantastic’ Christmas at Sandringham in Norfolk, England, and said the Royal Family ‘loved having her there’.
He added: ‘I think we’ve got one of the biggest families that I know of, and every family is complex as well.
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Her new family: Prince Harry told the BBC that fiancée Meghan, 36, had enjoyed a ‘fantastic’ Christmas at Sandringham in Norfolk, England (pictured) adding that the Royals enjoyed having her and they are the family ‘she’s never had’
Meghan’s relatives have since slammed Harry’s claim, saying Meghan had a ‘really good’ family ‘who were always there with her. ‘Childhood photos provided by her half-brother Thomas Jr show 11-year-old Meghan with her father Thomas Sr, her nephews, and sister-in-law
We are family: Thomas Markle Jr said his father will be ‘extremely hurt’ by Prince Harry’s comments. He told DailyMail.com that Meghan Markle had enjoyed spending time at Christmas with her father (left), him (center) and her nephews including Tyler Dooley (right), having become his aunt when she was just 10
Close family: Thomas Markle, Meghan’s father (right), made sure Christmases were special and that she spent time with him and her grandmother Doris (left) as a child. Her uncle Fred (left) was also part of her upbringing
‘She’s done an absolutely amazing job. She’s getting in there and it’s the family I suppose that she’s never had.’
But Thomas Jr, speaking at his home in Oregon, told DailyMail.com that Harry’s incendiary charge was far from the truth.
‘She’s had a really good family,’ he said.
‘We were as close as we could be, as tight as we could be, that’s what we were.
‘We’d get together on Christmases, on holidays, on birthdays, on Thanksgivings… It was always somewhere, even though we lived in different parts of the city [Los Angeles] – we still all got together.
‘Obviously, she had a family. She was very privileged. She got everything she ever wanted. We did the best that we could in terms of getting together for holidays and whatnot.’
Of their father, retired lighting director Thomas Markle Sr, 73, he added: ‘My father will be extremely hurt, actually.
‘He dedicated the majority of all his time and everything to her. He made sure she had what she needed to be successful and get to where she’s at today.’
Thomas Jr’s comments echo those made by his estranged sister Samantha Grant, 53, of Ocala, Florida, who said on Wednesday that Meghan has a ‘large family who were always there with her’.
Markle’s dad, a retired cinematographer who was once married to her mother Doria Ragland, is said to be ‘extremely hurt’ over Prince Harry’s comments
Thomas Markle Sr ‘dedicated’ the majority of his time to Meghan and made sure she had what she needed to be successful, according to her half-brother
Writing on Twitter, she continued: ‘Our household was very normal and when dad and Doria divorced, we all made it so it was like she had two houses.
‘No one was estranged, she was just too busy. Meg’s family (our family) [sic] is complete with sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the glue of our family, our amazing completely self-sacrificing father.
‘She always had this family… Marrying merely extends it. She has a large family. She always did. Our dad is amazing and completely self-sacrificing.
‘We made it so that she had two houses. How fun it was!’
Meghan, whose engagement to Prince Harry was announced at the end of November, has spent most of the past month in London.
The couple made several public appearances together following the announcement, including a trip to Nottingham and a visit to Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s annual pre-Christmas party.
Along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, guests included Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Princess Michael of Kent.
So far, two of Meghan’s half-siblings Thomas Markle Jr (left) and Samantha Markle (right) have spoken out against Harry’s statement saying the actress had a ‘privileged’ life. They only ‘lost touch’ after she moved to Toronto, Canada, to take up a role in Suits
Family drama: Samantha took to Twitter to insist her sister indeed had a large family and to say that their father ‘is amazing and completely self-sacrificing’
In a break with tradition, Meghan went on to spend Christmas at Sandringham, the royals’ Norfolk home, with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh – a privilege not usually extended to royal fiancées, among them Kate, Camilla, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, until they are married.
The 36-year-old, who stayed with Harry at William and Kate’s Norfolk mansion Anmer Hall, also turned out for church on Christmas morning with the rest of the Royal Family.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Harry said: ‘The family loved having her there. There’s always that family part of Christmas, [where] there’s always that work element there as well, and I think together we had an amazing time.
‘We had great fun staying with my brother and sister-in-law and running round with the kids. Christmas was fantastic.’
The royal festivities are a far cry from those Meghan enjoyed growing up in Los Angeles, but Thomas Jr says her divorced parents routinely went to great lengths to make Christmas special.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘She always had a Christmas, no matter what. We opened up presents in the morning. What else would we do? Stockings, a tree, even lights on the tree.
Princess-to-be: Meghan curtsied for the Queen on Christmas, alongside Prince Harry and William, and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge
‘My dad really liked Christmas more than anything; that was his favorite holiday. He would put some fake presents under the tree once in a while – just some off the wall gift so you would have no idea why you got it or what it was or what it meant.’
Meghan became an aunt aged five when Samantha became a mother to her niece Ashleigh Hale, now 31, and again aged ten when Thomas Markle Jr had the first of his two children, Tyler, now 26, and Thomas III, now 25, with his now ex-wife Tracey Dooley.
Her nephews became part of her Christmas routine.
Thomas Jr said: ‘She [Meghan] had more fun opening presents with my kids than opening up her own presents. She’d probably be the first one under the tree opening up presents.
‘My dad was the glue for all that. I would have Christmas at my house with my kids, my dad would have a Christmas at his house, Doria would have a Christmas.
‘One way or the other, we all made the rounds and saw each other. When we could, we got together for Christmas dinners. So as far as the family she never had goes, she probably had like four Christmases in one day – it would be a really busy day.’
Thomas Jr, who has not spent the festive season with Meghan for at least 15 years, spent his own Christmas at home in Grants Pass with fiancée Darlene Blount, 37, and her seven-year-old son.
He has not seen or spoken to his 36-year-old half-sister since 2011 but says he and Meghan are not estranged but lost touch after she moved to Toronto, Canada, to take up a role in Suits.
Thomas Markle was seen in exclusive DailyMailTV pictures earlier this month at his home in Rosarito, Mexico just south of the border with the U.S., where he lives in a peaceful retirement
The 73-year-old seems to live a much more relaxed lifestyle compared with his daughter’s
He now lives in a little yellow house (far right) perched on a 120-foot bluff which looks over the Pacific Ocean
‘She got to the point where she got busier and busier so it was really hard to nail her down,’ he explained.
‘It’s not really that we grew apart, it was she was out there [in Toronto] doing her job – it was the biggest deal she got on TV so she had no time.
‘But we spent a lot of weekends together with our grandmother [Doris Markle] before she left.’
He is now hoping that the Markle clan will one day be reunited for Christmas and says that while he doesn’t expect an invitation to Meghan and Harry’s May wedding, it would mean a lot to get one.
The 51-year-old, who was arrested last January for putting a gun to his fiancée’s head but released without charge, added: ‘I don’t know if she gets to invite who she wants. But she’ll reach out if she wants me there – she’ll call me. She knows where to find me.
‘But that’s up to her, there’s no pressure. I wouldn’t mind seeing my little sister have the biggest wedding in the world – that would be incredible.
‘Of course [it would mean a lot]. I didn’t go to her last one in Jamaica, I was working or something. But if my dad doesn’t walk her down the aisle, then I will.’