Cocaine, Wild parties and X-rated Playboy clubs: Were those faked paparazzi photos the least of Thomas Markle’s sins? asks DAVID JONES
- Meghan’s half brother Thomas Markle Jr claims their father did cocaine at home
- In a damning interview he said he cheated on his first wife and smoked cannabis
- Mr Markle Sr, 74, denies the allegations and is backed by daughter Samantha, 53
- Meghan, 37, is currently on a tour of Australia and South Pacific with Harry, 34
With her first overseas tour going swimmingly, the crowds in raptures wherever she appears and a baby on the way, the Duchess of Sussex has radiated contentment in every new photograph beamed from Down Under and the South Pacific.
Privately, however, her happiness must surely be tempered by a series of lurid new revelations about her father’s behaviour when she was a child.
In the latest bombshell story, published at the weekend by the U.S. website Radar Online, Meghan’s half-brother reportedly claims to have witnessed Thomas Markle Senior using cocaine in the family home.
‘. . . I’d see lines of cocaine on the mirror. I’d see him do it,’ Tom Junior, 52, is quoted as saying.
He accuses his father of staying out for days on drinking binges, then coming home ‘a little wasted’, during his first marriage, to his mother, Roslyn, and claims his parents divorced because Mr Markle cheated on her. His also claims to have smoked some of his father’s marijuana.
Thomas Markle Jr has made a series of damning claims about his and Meghan Markle’s father Thomas Markle Sr (pictured with Meghan) saying he took cocaine in the family home
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Mr Markle Senior strenuously denies the allegations, and is supported by his daughter, Samantha, 53, who dismisses her brother as a ‘delusional alcoholic’ who has been disowned by his father, and claims he was motivated by money and vengeance.
However, the Radar story (for which Thomas Markle Junior is reported to have taken a polygraph test) comes hard on the heels of another damaging article earlier this month in America’s most sensationalist tabloid, the National Enquirer.
According to the magazine, Mr Markle, 74, admitted that he had ‘occasionally’ snorted cocaine, during his days as a leading Hollywood lighting director.
He is also said to have confessed that he frequented the Playboy Club, in Manila, a notorious nightclub described as ‘an X-rated jiggle joint’, where scantily clad Filipino girls attempted to seduce foreign men into parting with their dollars.
Since Meghan was born in 1981, and Mr Markle allegedly said these events occurred during ‘the 70s and 80s’, the implication of the Enquirer’s revelations is that he had pursued this louche lifestyle while he was raising her.
It also appeared that, having previously lined his pockets by colluding with paparazzi photographers ahead of his daughter’s wedding and selling indiscreet interviews, he had again made money with this new story, without a care for the hurt and embarrassment it would cause to his daughter.
Thomas Markle Jnr is pictured with a baby Meghan. He has claimed their father cheated on his first wife and he let him smoke some of his cannabis
In fairness to Mr Markle Senior, the truth, it transpires, is somewhat different.
In fact, I am reliably told, he was again sold out by his son, who told the National Enquirer his father had made the shocking admissions during a private conversation.
Apparently unaware that he had been stitched up by his own flesh and blood, Meghan’s father responded to the Enquirer story with characteristic brusqueness, threatening to ‘f***ing break the legs’ of whoever ratted on him.
Nonetheless, he did not, at that point, seek to deny taking cocaine or visiting racy nightclubs. We can well imagine the discomfort the Duchess must feel at learning her father was reportedly leading this dissolute life when she was a little girl.
For in her now-deleted internet blog, Meghan described how she placed her bearishly protective father on a pedestal during her formative years.
‘I think of so many moments with my Dad. Our club sandwich and fruit-smoothie tradition post my tap and ballet class — classes, by the way, which he religiously took me to on Saturday mornings after working 75+ hours a week as a lighting director,’ she wrote.
Mugshot: Thomas Markle Jr was arrested on weapon-related charges in Oregon in January 2017
With starry-eyed adoration, she also remembered ‘the fishing trips along the Kern River and Big Bear Lake to catch cat-fish or trout and cook it up for dinner, and the commitment he made to lighting my high school musicals so they felt as good as a Broadway show.
‘The blood, sweat and tears this man (who came from so little, in a small town in Pennsylvania where Christmas stockings were filled with oranges, and dinners were potatoes and Spam) invested in my future, so that I could have so much.
‘He was the person who believed in this grand dream of mine well before I could even see it as a possibility . . . and taught me to find my light.’
By his words and actions in recent months — mocking up those lucrative photographs, failing to attend the wedding ceremony (after reportedly suffering a heart attack) and bad-mouthing the Royal Family, which he has said is like the Scientologists because of its ‘cult-like secrecy’ — Mr Markle had already tarnished those cherished memories.
Since he undoubtedly adores Meghan, he is now, very belatedly, trying to regain her trust.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday last weekend, he revealed that he had learned of her pregnancy only when listening to the radio news as he drove towards the U.S.-Mexico border in the small hours last week.
‘The first thing I thought about was holding Meghan in my arms 37 years ago,’ he said. ‘I thought: ‘My baby is having a baby.’ It was a very proud moment.’
No doubt. Yet the latest drugs claims about him will surely cement the rift between father and daughter.
Mr Markle Senior (pictured with a young Meghan o n his back) strenuously denies the allegations and is supported by his daughter Samantha who has hit out at Thomas Junior
‘In the industry I worked in, back in the 70s and 80s, there was cocaine around a lot and I’m sure that I had the occasional sniff of cocaine,’ Meghan’s father is quoted as saying in the Enquirer.
‘Have I ever paid for a sex worker? Uh, there was a Playboy Club in the top floor of a hotel in the Philippines (but) I never paid for sex.
‘I would go upstairs and enjoy myself in the Playboy Club, but not . . . for sex. I didn’t get sex out of it.’
Whatever the means by which the National Enquirer secured their scoop, I am told they went to great lengths to verify the story — and, having spent many months investigating Meghan’s family background, Mr Markle’s apparent admissions come as little surprise to me.
Though he was in many ways a wonderful father — teaching Meghan to make a stand against racial stereotyping at school, and mentoring her fledgling acting career — it became very apparent that there was also a dark side to his character.
A side difficult to square with the rose-tinted childhood memories in Meghan’s blog.
The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle is pictured giving a speech at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji today
I discovered that he is a man riven by contradictions. He can be charming and gregarious one day, obsessively private and reclusive the next.
In his pomp, he relished his place at the heart of the Hollywood establishment, yet as his remarks about the royals illustrate, he is almost anarchic in his loathing for those in privileged positions of authority.
Though he bankrupted himself to fund Meghan’s private education at an elite Los Angeles kindergarten and her early acting career, he is so parsimonious that he hoards possessions, wears old clothes, ‘forgets’ to pay parking tickets and has never bought a house or a new car.
By the same token, according to Tom Junior, when it comes to making money his father has always had an eye to the main chance.
‘Just turn up at his door with a suitcase full of dollars and he’ll give you an interview for sure,’ the younger Tom told me, when I sought to speak to his father, some months before Meghan and Harry were married.
How could he be so sure? ‘Trust me — I know my dad,’ he replied.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan arrived at the University of the South Pacific campus in Suva, Fiji, on their second full day in the Pacific Island nation
Perhaps these complex traits stem from his background. Born into a small-town, God-fearing, blue-collar family on America’s East Coast, he found his metier for theatre set design and lighting (despite being colour-blind — a secret he kept from his employers) when working on high school stage productions.
One of his brothers took to the cloth, establishing his own church. Another devoted his career to public service.
However, Thomas, whose ambitions matched his 6ft 3in, 20 st stature, was determined to make his way in the entertainment industry.
Soon after leaving school, he quit his part-time job in a bowling alley and moved to Chicago, then in the vanguard of the new television age.
There — at a hippy party — he met Roslyn Loveless, the attractive teenage red-head who would become his first wife.
They married in haste and had two children, Samantha, now 55, and Thomas Junior, 53.
However, as Roslyn told me, Markle ‘was not a good husband’ and showed little interest in the mundanities of family life. After a long day at the studio, she says, he would go carousing with his showbiz friends, leaving her to tend to the children.
Though this dignified woman, now 72 and living in the backwoods of New Mexico, declined to answer me directly when I asked whether he had been unfaithful to her, I was in little doubt that this was her implication.
Intriguingly, given his reported confession to enjoying nights in the Manila Playboy Club, Mr Markle’s son told me that the woman who replaced Roslyn in his affections was from the Philippines.
Her name, Tom Junior recalled, was Marty, and his father took up with her when they were still living in Chicago.
‘There’s a certain type of woman he likes — he likes Asian women a lot,’ his son told me, though I saw no reason to publish these remarks at the time of our interview. ‘So he liked to go on vacation to Thailand, Vietnam.’
Smiling enigmatically, Tom Junior added: ‘He likes their culture a lot.’ However, Mr Markle eventually left the Windy City — and the mysterious ‘Marty’ — behind.
His aspirations took him to California, where his professional reputation grew, and he won a string of awards.
There, when he was in his early 30s, he met and married Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, an attractive temp, 11 years his junior.
By all accounts, they were besotted with one another during their first few years together, and Mr Markle was no longer the neglectful father.
His son says his father was ‘a changed man’ after Meghan was born, devoting every moment of his spare time to his ‘little princess’.
Meghan’s parents’ parted acrimoniously after three years of marriage and they were divorced after seven. No one has ever fully explained why their marriage ended so abruptly and bitterly.
However, the Enquirer article will inevitably prompt speculation that Doria — a clean-living yoga teacher — uncovered her husband’s alleged dalliance with cocaine, ‘occasional’ though it was.
Maybe she decided that a household where the bohemian movieland crowd gathered for wild, anything-goes parties was no place for her daughter to be brought up.
For, as Thomas Junior told me, his father loved to host such gatherings at their homes, on the beach at Malibu and later in the affluent LA suburb of Woodland Hills, and that casual drug-taking and debauchery were commonplace.
He said: ‘It was the Eighties and everybody was doing something — weed . . . and the next newest thing.
‘Dad would invite all these people over at the weekend, and things could get pretty crazy. They would get high on whatever it was, and play that horrible Eighties music.’
He didn’t spell out what he meant by ‘the next newest thing’, but 30 years ago, before the advent of ecstasy and other more ‘sophisticated’ drugs, cocaine was Hollywood’s drug of choice.
Meghan’s half-brother, then in his teens, was hardly an angel himself, I should add. In one episode, recounted in royal author Andrew Morton’s biography of the Duchess, his father threw him and his friends out of the house after catching them sharing a joint.
Bizarrely, her father got rid of the druggy crew not by threatening them or shouting, but by filling one of Meghan’s nappies with chocolate pudding and pretending to spoon the contents into his mouth. At the time, his unknowing daughter was playing in her nursery.
In truth, Meghan’s father was so protective towards her that he is likely to have shielded her from any sordid behaviour.
Certainly that is the view of a source close to him. His daughter ‘was the most powerful drug he knew.
He was addicted to her’, the insider said last week. ‘What I will say is that [if he was using cocaine] it never affected his care and love of Meghan.’
Indeed, he was so proud of her that, when he was entertaining friends, he would sometimes fetch her from her bedroom, in dressing-gown and slippers, and show her off.
Speaking a few days ago to Mail Online TV in the U.S, Meghan’s step-sister, the unpredictable Samantha, expressed her wish that the new royal baby would at last unite the Markle clan.
She dearly hopes her father will play a part in his grandchild’s life because ‘my dad is so funny’ and ‘the baby will miss out on not being able to meet Grandad’.
Samantha added that her father ‘has a huge heart and wants to be involved. Hopefully time will pass and this [the dispute between her father and sister] will all resolve itself, and be a wonderful thing for everybody’.
However, given these latest revelations, that might be wishful thinking at best.
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