ITV’s Good Morning Britain has come under fire for running an exclusive interview with Meghan Markle’s estranged father, Thomas Markle, as the fallout from the Duchess of Sussex’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey continues.
Ms Markle and her husband Prince Harry told the US chat show host of their torrid experiences as part of the British royal family, with the former revealing she had suffered suicidal thoughts and been refused help and that an unnamed member of the household had raised “concerns” about the likely skin colour of her future child.
Their two-hour sit-down was broadcast by ITV on Monday night, with the channel following up on Tuesday morning by inviting Mr Markle onto its flagship breakfast show hosted by Susannah Reid and Piers Morgan.
Speaking from Rosarito, Mexico, the duchess’s father admitted that watching Ms Winfrey’s interview was the first time he had heard his daughter speak in four years and said he was “disappointed” she had accused him of “betraying” her by colluding with the British tabloid press to profit from untrue stories.
He admitted talking to reporters as a means of provoking a reaction from the couple, saying: “I’ll do a story for the press if I don’t hear from them… When they decide to talk to me, I’ll stop talking to the press.”
Alluding to his part in staging a paparazzi photo for money prior to their wedding in 2018 and making public a private letter from his daughter, Mr Markle appeared to mock Harry by responding: “We all make mistakes. I’ve never played naked pool or dressed like Hitler.”
He also claimed that he too had been the victim of press intrusion, much like his daughter: “No one took any time to protect our family, we were attacked by the press everyday”.
Mr Markle said he had come to feel “left out to dry” by Meghan and Harry and complained that his daughter had “pretty much ghosted all of her family on both sides”, nevertheless expressing sorrow at her revelations about fighting depression and her confession that she felt she had no one to turn to for support.
“I’ve never stopped loving my daughter,” Mr Markle insisted. “I love Meghan and she can be angry with me but I’m still her dad… There must be something left here somewhere.”
But the Good Morning Britain interview attracted a highly mixed response on social media, with many viewers attacking ITV for giving Mr Markle a platform given his fraught and well-documented relationship with his daughter and apparent ill health.
“Watching Thomas Markle is uncomfortable viewing – he doesn’t look or sound well, he’s rambling and repetitive,” observed psychologist Jo Hemmings, herself a consultant to the programme.
“He seems confused, almost broken. He’s been estranged from Meghan for 3 years. I don’t see the purpose of this interview – it certainly won’t help build bridges.”
She replied to one commentator suggesting the episode amounted to “a tv show exploiting a sick man” by agreeing that the feature was “an own goal in my view”.
“Crikey, his interview is uncomfortable,” commented journalist Katie French. “Thomas Markle does not look well. If this is what commercial breakfast telly is all about, I think I’ll stick with the radio!”
“I hate to sincerely engage with the Harry and Meghan story, but the way the media keeps platforming Thomas Markle chills me to the bone,” said New Statesman writer Sarah Manavis. “It should be clear how creepy and sickeningly gratuitous this is.”
Mr Markle himself was criticised for disloyalty by reality TV star Mario Falcone as “quite possibly the worst dad in the world” and by journalist Funmi Olutoye, who said: “If my dad went on international television to sell a story on me, I would NEVER talk to him again.”
Mr Morgan, who had earlier stormed out of a segment about the row arising from the Winfrey interview, also came in for criticism, with ex-footballer John Barnes tweeting sarcastically: “Hard hitting piers morgan really grilling thomas markle about the fact he wanted to blackmail meghan by saying every month you dont talk to me im going to talk to the press... really impartial journalism... making himself look worse than usual our piers!”
The Independent has approached ITV for comment.
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