Netflix credited in its docu-series Harry & Meghan the agency with which Thomas Markle Snr staged paparazzi photographs in 2018. As the credits rolled after the end of the third episode of the programme, LA agency Coleman-Rayner made an appearance under the section “archival materials courtesy of”.
It isn’t known whether the company set up by British journalists Mark Coleman and Jeff Rayner was paid by the US streaming giant to use the images.
In the run-up to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Royal Wedding in May 2018, the agency snapped pictures of Mr Markle training in public, reading a book titled Images of Britain, looking at photos of his daughter Meghan in an internet café and being measured for a suit.
While these pictures painted the wholesome image of a father looking forward to the wedding of his daughter, it later emerged the photographer and the former Hollywood lighting director had staged the photos.
These photographs and clippings of the British publications which later published them were included in the documentary exploring Meghan and Harry’s romance and their struggles as senior royals.
Discussing the tense days ahead of the wedding, Meghan said towards the end of the third episode of the Netflix docu-series: “The week before our wedding, we got a call from our joint communications secretary.
“He said, ‘This story is going to come out tomorrow saying your father has been staging pictures and taking money from the press’.”
She continued: “That was the first I was hearing of it. And I remember Jason [Knauf] said, ‘You just need to call him and find out if this is true or not because it could be really damaging’.
“H and I called my dad. I said, ‘They’re saying you’re taking money from the tabloids to stage photos. Is this true?’ He says, ‘No.’
“And on that call, I’d said to him, ‘Look. If they can’t stop it this story, then it’s going to come out tomorrow so whey don’t we send someone right now to your house to get you out of there now because if that’s the case, your house will be swarmed by media. We’ll get you out’.”
However, the Duchess recalled, her father told her he had things he needed to do and could not follow her advice.
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After ending the conversation with her father, Meghan said to have told Harry: “I don’t know why but I don’t believe him.”
Mr Markle did not attend his daughter’s wedding as he was hospitalised with heart problems shortly before he was due to cross the Atlantic for the nuptials.
In the programme, Meghan said to have learned about her father’s ill health through a US publication rather than from Mr Markle himself.
She added that one of the text exchanges between her and her father that followed left her to believe Mr Markle’s phone had been “compromised”.
But Mr Markle rebuked this claim and, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday he said: “I wrote every word that I sent from that phone which is still in my possession.
“For her to claim my phone was compromised is simply not true.
“I wrote that text as I lay in a hospital bed after having had two heart attacks and having stents put in.”
Responding to his daughter’s argument he didn’t sound like himself in one specific text because he called her “Meghan” rather than “Meg” as he had always done, the father-of-three said: “I have used Meghan’s full name before, when things are serious.
“It’s not true to say I have never used her full name. I use it when I am serious, when there are serious issues involved.”