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Meghan Markle’s half sister has argued that her father has been subjected to “atrocious and intrusive” media attention. Her statement followed media reports that he has pulled out of attending Saturday’s royal wedding.

Kensington Palace requested that “understanding and respect” to be extended to Thomas Markle Sr, 73, who was due to walk his daughter down the aisle, but has reportedly decided to stay away amid controversy that he cooperated over “staged” photographs of himself preparing for the event.

It has also been claimed he suffered a heart attack last week.

Markle, who is due to marry Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, is understood to be extremely distressed and concerned about her father’s wellbeing but hoping he can be persuaded to change his mind.