Royal wedding soap opera: Here's who could end up walking Meghan Markle down the aisle

Honestly, and you thought your wedding was a nightmare to plan!

After seemingly pulling out of his father-of-the-bride duties on Monday, Thomas Markle reportedly had a change of heart on Tuesday and said he indeed wants to walk his daughter Meghan down the aisle at her wedding to Prince Harry in Windsor, England this weekend.

Only he might have to stay in the hospital instead.

Should that occur, the British press and bookmakers are making Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, the odds-on favorite to give the bride away.

Though there's an outside chance that her future father-in-law, Prince Charles, could do it.

Sigh ... What are the odds on a royal elopement?

TMZ was the first to report on Monday that Meghan's 73-year-old dad had decided not to attend Saturday's ceremony. The retired television lighting director said he'd had a heart attack six days earlier. But he also said he wanted to spare his daughter and the royal family any further embarrassment as it'd been found out he'd posed for photos that a paparazzi agency then sold for large sums of money.

>> Previous: TMZ: Meghan Markle's dad won't be at the royal wedding

On Monday night, Harry and Meghan's press folks at Kensington Palace released a carefully worded statement asking for "understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.” The British tabloids have been less circumspect, describing the palace as "blindsided" and Harry's grandmum, Queen Elizabeth II, as "very angry" with Thomas Markle.

>> Previous: Update: Palace says Meghan Markle, Prince Harry ask for "understanding" during "difficult situation"

Blimey. Is it any wonder that Markle changed his mind and decided to go? Only . . . when he broke the news to - - who else? -- TMZ, he said he was back in the hospital, having suffered serious chest pains.

>> Related: Who are Meghan Markle's family members (and Prince Harry's future in-laws)

"Thomas says if doctors let him out of the hospital he will risk his health and fly to England so he can be with his daughter," TMZ reported the sweet and/or melodramatic (take your pick) news. "Thomas says he's lobbied the doctors, asking if he can get out Wednesday, but they have been noncommittal."

>> Related: How to watch and stream the royal wedding (plus everything else on TV about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle)

So who'd step in if he's a no-show? British bookmaker Ladbrokes is offering 4/6 odds it'll be Meghan's mother, Ragland. Prince Charles comes in at 2/1 and Harry's bro, Prince William, is getting 5/1 odds to temporarily ditch his best man duties and give his future sister-in-law away.

>> Related: Royal wedding guide: Everything to know for when Harry weds Meghan

There's royal precedent where Ragland's concerned: "Queen Victoria accompanied two of her daughters to the altar after the death of Prince Albert," The Guardian newspaper reminded readers on Tuesday. And when Princess Margaret got married in 1960, her father was deceased and her sister, Queen Elizabeth II, was on the throne. The queen's husband, Prince Philip, gave Margaret away, and now one royal expert thinks their son should do the same for Meghan.

"I would think the most dignified thing would be for Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle," Ingrid Seward told Vanity Fair. "I think his experience and rank would make her feel less nervous - as at least one of them would know what to do.”

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About the Author

Jill Vejnoska
Jill Vejnoska
Jill Vejnoska has spent two decades as a news and features reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.