Meghan’s birthday agony
MEGHAN Markle will likely mark her 37th birthday today, her first in the royal family, having no contact with her father who has already this week said he expects she will ignore him.
Richard Fitzwilliams, a commentator for many years on royal events on TV and radio, including CNN, the BBC, and Sky News, told news.com.au he had never seen anything like the current Markle situation.
And that included the scandals that previously engulfed the Windsors, because as headline-grabbing as they were, there was not a Thomas Markle figure who was seemingly happy to spill the royals secrets and cause trouble.
The Duchess of Sussex is reportedly expected to celebrate her birthday this weekend at the wedding of friends of Prince Harry.
Back when she was allowed social media, the Suits actress wrote that her mum used to say a birthday was like "your own personal New Year".
In 2016 she wrote online birthdays were "your own chance to make resolutions just for yourself and what you prognosticate for your year ahead" and told readers of her blog she always wished for "more inspiration, always more inspiration".
Given her current situation, this year will be no different.
Mr Fitzwilliams said the duchess' birthday came at a difficult time. "It's in a period for Meghan Markle that has been most successful in wowing crowds and the charitable aspect of her work. There is no question she and Harry have plans...to Fiji and Australia in October and there is a lot of speculation that they will be going to the United States and who knows where else, but there's no question she is popular - but there is the problem of the family. And the father."
Mr Fitzwilliams said the situation was "unfortunate".
The focus for Meghan should be ramping up her charity work and promote causes that she felt strongly about, as well as getting to know the UK and Commonwealth.
"The last few weeks have been clouded by this because it has been unprecedented, but remember how successful she is, how in control she is. Unlike Harry's other girlfriends she knows how to deal with the attention. Unlike her father."
This week Mr Markle said he wanted to send Meghan a card but he doubted she would ever see it.
In this regard there was a lot to celebrate this weekend, but it would be a subdued affair.
As for Mr Markle, he had to be brought under control before it was too late.
"This is absolutely unprecedented it's awful for the people to try and cope with it and it is uncontained at the moment. How you do that with someone who is not predictable, I don't know, no wonder courtiers are concerned."
It would all come to an end one way or the other. "It must be stooped but how it is stopped I don't know."
"He's a person who is completely unused to the media frenzy over anything and he's 74 and in poor health - having said that once he opened the door to Piers Morgan and Good Morning Britain for half an hour, this was very, very unwise. He started repeating things Prince Harry had said to him. It doesn't matter it wasn't exactly what he said, the point is you can't half a loose cannon. You cannot trust someone (like that)."
He told news.com.au no one knew how it would all end.
"In theory there is no way of controlling him. Harry has never met him, he's complaining Meghan has cut him off, no doubt because he's giving these interviews..."
Asked about persistent rumours in London that Meghan was about to make a solo trip to the US, he said it could allow a meeting with her father or at least with an intermediary.
"In someway Thomas Markle has to appreciate if he is to be on any contact with Meghan in a way he would wish he must do what he is currently doing. The royal family would consider this a betrayal of trust."
Part of the problem for the public was the palace rarely gave any comments so it was difficult to know what exactly had happened behind the scenes to bring Mr Markle into the fold before the wedding.
Royal watchers spoken to by news.com.au this week said Meghan and Harry may have had their reasons to keep him at arms length, but it was impossible to know what was happening behind palace walls.
"It's messy and we aren't aware how it all might play out. But there is one thing for sure, he has to stop. Thomas Markle is acting like a loose cannon...his behaviour is unpredictable and that's fatal in royal affairs," Mr Fitzwilliams said.
Half-sister Samantha had attacked Meghan repeatedly with "appalling" and "poisonous" comments, and was deciding whether to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house which would be a "tasteless" move, Mr Fitzwilliams said.
In an interview this week, Mr Markle claimed Meghan changed her phone number and was sending him "mixed messages", dismissed the royals as a "Monty Python sketch" and accused his daughter of having a "sense of superiority".
He suggested it would be better for Meghan if he died, and that Princess Diana would be disgusted with how he was being treated.
Veteran royal watcher Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan in their Own Words, told news.com.au: "Harry and Meghan have tried ignoring the Markles, but it's not working. Before things get even more embarrassing for the royal family, they must try to build bridges.
Meghan is considered to be a major asset for the royal family and someone who can help modernise the monarchy, and if anything, her family woes seem to have boosted her popularity even more.
Royalty Inc author Stephen Bates said she made the royals "less stuffy".
"She broadens the gene pool really, she brings a different perspective and also a different appearance, beyond the obvious, to the Royal Family. She is bound to make them appear less stuffy and to inject different ideas into their gene pool. I think it's very good for the monarchy."