Kensington Palace announced Friday, May 18th, that Meghan, 36, has asked Charles, 69, to carry out the duty. Meghan had planned on having her father, Thomas Markle, by her side, but she “sadly” confirmed on Thursday that he would not be attending the royal wedding as originally planned.
“Ms. Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St George’s Chapel on her Wedding Day,” the palace statement said. “The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way.”
The royal bride-to-be asked Charles to take over the duty in the last 24 hours, since it was revealed that her father was not able to attend.
“It was Meghan’s wish and she is grateful for the Prince of Wales to be doing it,” a royal source tells PEOPLE.
For the earlier part of the procession through the Nave of St. George’s Chapel, Meghan will be accompanied by her 10-strong squad of bridesmaids and page boys, which means she will walk down the greater part of the aisle without someone by her side.
A royal source says that it was always part of the “choreography” that the children would be with her for the first section of the walk through the Nave of the chapel, and then her father would take over for the final steps through the Quire (the last section of the church, where the immediate members of the royal family and close relatives will likely be seated). Now, Charles will greet her at the Quire to continue the final portion of her walk to the altar, where Prince Harry will be standing.
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was also at the rehearsal, where she met William and Kate and their children.
Until earlier this week, the plan was in place for Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, to walk her down the aisle, Kensington Palace had confirmed on May 4th.
But then on Monday, that plan came to a halt after Thomas told TMZ that he had decided not to attend the wedding after it was revealed that he worked with a paparazzi agency to stage several photoshoots, featuring him reading a book about Great Britain, looking at photos of Meghan and Harry online and being fitted for his wedding outfit. He said that he didn’t want to attend and embarrass Meghan or the royal family. He also said that he had suffered a heart attack the previous week, but had checked out of the hospital in order to attend the wedding.
On Tuesday, Thomas backtracked on his statement and said that he would try to attend the wedding, pending any further medical issues. His change of heart came after Meghan reportedly contacted him and stressed to him how much she wanted him to be there. But then later that day, he said he wouldn’t be able to attend after all, because he needed to have surgery on Wednesday. He told TMZ that the surgery had been successful on Wednesday evening.