Prince Charles to walk Meghan down aisle at royal wedding

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Britain Royal Wedding_1526641368605

FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive to attend the traditional Christmas Day service, at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England. Royal wedding organizers on Thursday May 17, 2018, are preparing for a rehearsal of the proceedings to take place in Windsor […]

WINDSOR, England (AP) — Prince Charles will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle when she marries his son Prince Harry — a gesture of welcome to the American actress as she joins the royal family.

FILE – In this Thursday, May 10, 2018 file photo, Britain's Prince Charles, waves as he leaves a meeting with the head of Greece's Orthodox Church Archbishop Ieronymos, in Athens. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Kensington Palace said Friday that Markle asked the heir to the British throne to offer the supporting elbow Saturday at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor after Markle’s father was unable to attend after falling ill.

Charles “is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to the Royal Family in this way,” the palace said.

The news comes as the final wedding preparations swing into gear. Union Jacks have been unfurled, security barriers are up and fans are already moving in to capture the prime viewing positions. The world’s media have descended on this town of 32,000 known for a castle whose site was chosen by William the Conquerer. Windsor is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of London.

Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was the bookies’ favorite to escort the bride, but Prince Charles has a lifetime of experience in appearing at large-scale public events amid intense scrutiny.

Having the father of the groom escort the bride is yet another twist in a royal wedding that is proving to be different from many others. Normally such occasions are choreographed to the second — and replete with tradition.

But things began to unravel last week after it emerged that Thomas Markle allegedly staged paparazzi photos in what celebrity website TMZ said was an effort to improve his image and show him to be a loving father preparing for the big day. Thomas Markle later said he wouldn’t attend the wedding because he would be recovering from surgery following a heart attack.

Speaking from Windsor, TMZ’s Sean Mandell told the BBC that the father was hurt by negative headlines and inaccurate portrayals.

“He was trying to explain his side of things,” Mandell said. “Himworking with the paparazzi for those staged photos was an attempt to recast his image to show him as a loving father who was getting ready for his daughter’s wedding, and not as a reclusive lush.”

A woman sits after spending the night in front of Windsor castle, England, Friday, May 18, 2018. Preparations continue in Windsor ahead of the royal wedding of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Saturday May 19. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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