After it was reported that Meghan Markle's father, Thomas Markle Sr., collaborated with a paparazzi photographer to stage a series of pictures, his daughter Samantha spoke out on Monday and claimed responsibility for the arrangement.
Meghan's estranged half-sister, who is not expected to attend when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marry at Windsor Palace this Saturday, told ITV that the photos were her idea: "I have to say I am entirely the culprit," she said. "I said, 'You have to show the world you're getting in shape.' It was my suggestion. I don't believe he was paid and if he was it was a pittance. I can understand it's awkward for Kensington Palace." (The Daily Mail estimates that the photos have "netted up to £100,000.)
Samantha Markle, who is also known by the name Samantha Grant, is 17 years Meghan's senior; she and her brother are Meghan's half-siblings. To date, she's been the most vocal member of the Markle family, speaking out about her half-sister in the press—a move that may have cost her a relationship with her soon-to-be-royal relative.
The 53-year-old appeared on TLC’s special, When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Engagement, which aired last December. On that special, she tried to clear the air about Meghan's background, and what she really meant when she called her upcoming book The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister. Despite saying she never means to trash her sister, Grant has criticized Markle in various interviews since that TLC interview.
Here's what we know about her.
SHE AND MEGHAN HAVE THE SAME FATHER.
Samantha and Meghan’s father, Thomas, worked in lighting on television shows like Married With Children. Samantha and her brother, Thomas Jr., are the children of Markle senior's first marriage to Roslyn. His second wife was Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland; Thomas and Doria divorced in 1988, when Meghan was six years old.
Meghan Markle and her mother Doria Ragland in 2015.
According to Samantha, Thomas Markle's children all got along well. "It was like a gift when Meghan was born because she was so full of life and personality that we became settled as a family, but we became much more lively," Samantha said in the TLC special. "We were sort of a little family, not as large as The Brady Bunch, but in our minds it was a unique, very beautiful, multicultural and interracial family beginning."
SHE BLAMES MARKLE FOR NOT SUPPORTING THEIR FATHER NOW.
In an interview with the Australian TV show A Current Affair, Samantha accused Meghan of not using her financial resources to help their father, who reportedly declared bankruptcy in 2016. "Honestly what she could spend in a weekend would greatly help dad, so that should be a priority," she said.
SAMANTHA MARKLE | TONIGHT 7.00PM
Tonight, our exclusive interview with Meghan Markle's sister. Reporter Lauren Golman sits down with Samantha Markle in her rural Florida home, in an unmissable story on A Current Affair. Join us at 7.00pm on Channel 9. #9ACA READ MORE: https://www.9news.com.au/world/2018/02/04/15/48/meghan-markle-s-sister-reveals-what-tore-their-family-apart?ocid=Social-ACAPosted by A Current Affair on Sunday, February 4, 2018
SHE HIT BACK AT TABLOID REPORTS OF A RAGS-TO-RICHES STORY.
Tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic have reported that Meghan grew up in a rough part of southern California; Samantha said on the TLC special that those stories are inaccurate. "The tabloids wanted to create this ghetto princess story, if you will, which is so far from reality, you know, the African-American, rags-to-riches Cinderella," Samantha said. "We were raised in a very beautiful upper-middle-class home in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California, nowhere near 'gangland' as the tabloids tried to illustrate."
Samantha has also spoken up about accounts that paint Meghan's family life as less than stable or supportive. "When the media suggested that [her parents] were anything less [than great], and that she was this Cinderella that just rose up out of rubbish or out of nowhere—no, that is rubbish," she told Entertainment Tonight. "Her parents were incredible."
SAMANTHA INSISTS SHE DIDN'T SMEAR HER SISTER IN THE PRESS.
Tabloid reports claimed that Samantha called Meghan "narcissistic" and a "social climber," but Samantha insists in the TLC documentary she never said those things. “I was quoted as calling her Princess Pushy. I never said those words,” Samantha said in the TLC special. "The truth is, I never said any such thing and there’s no tape, no recording, nothing in the world that anybody could present to suggest that it was."
Of course it's worth noting that Samantha told Good Morning Britain that she's writing a memoir called The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister. That title, she says, is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. "The title is a mockery of the media," she told the Daily Mail. "It wasn’t me who called Meg 'pushy.' It was the tabloid newspapers. She is not pushy. The book isn’t going to be negative—it’s a warm, witty, honoring book—unfortunately, the negative sing-song has gone round the world."
HER BOOK WON'T BE A JUICY TELL-ALL.
Despite the title, Samantha says her book will be nuanced, and not just about Meghan. In that same Good Morning Britain interview, she said her book will be a critical look at race in America.
"The title is true. What is not true is this unbelievable swell that's been created that it's some sort of slamming tell-all. It's only a tell-all in that I [write about] beautiful nuances of our lives, our family home," Samantha told hosts Richard Madeley and Ranvir Singh. "More importantly, it has to do with the interracial evolution of this country through the lens of my life in my family since the civil rights act until present, and how that intersects with the recent events with my sister."
SHE SAID TABLOID REPORTS HAVE STRAINED HER RELATIONSHIP WITH MEGHAN.
In the TLC special, Samantha tearfully explains that the tabloid reports have "created a divide" between the sisters. "It’s been such a whirlwind with us and I’m sad she believed some of the other interviews I did where words I never said were taken out of context, so it’s been a bit since we’ve spoken," Samantha told Us Weekly.
The two haven't been close for some time now. Samantha told the Daily Mail that they haven't seen each other since 2008, when Samantha graduated from college and Meghan flew in to celebrate. That same year, Samantha was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she now uses a wheelchair.
SAMANTHA AND MEGHAN LAST SPOKE IN 2015.
"I was concerned about my father so I called her in Canada," Samantha told ITV. "It was really a nice conversation. It was just a matter of catching up. Her last words were—my nickname is "Babe"—so she said, 'I love you, Babe. It was great catching up. Let's keep in touch.' And we left it at that."
SHE SHARED STORIES ABOUT MEGHAN'S ENGAGEMENT LIKE THE REST OF US.
“It was really exciting for me, I am so happy for her,” Samantha told Us Weekly. “It was kind of funny, it was like my boyfriend showed it to me and I was on the phone with my father and I got to let him know too. We didn’t know it was going to come out this soon, so it was nice to wake up to.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their first royal engagement.
SHE’S NOT ATTENDING THE ROYAL WEDDING, AND SHE DIDN'T GO TO MEGHAN'S FIRST WEDDING EITHER.
Samantha said on ITV that she has not received an invitation to Meghan and Harry’s wedding in May. "I have to say, I'm not taking it personally. It's not just me. None of the family have received invites, nor have Doria's family. So although we don't understand we can only wish them well," she said. "I'm not taking it personally nor am I holding that against her."
She said she was not invited to Meghan Markle's first wedding, in 2011, either. "No, it was an unspoken thing ... for a beach wedding in Jamaica [my] wheelchair would have been somewhat in the way and I really didn't want to bog the fun down, so to speak, so I refrained from making it a big deal."
In March of 2018, the Sun reported that Samantha will be in Windsor on May 19, not as an invited guest of the royal wedding but rather "as a guest of a TV channel."
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.