It is looking increasingly unlikely that Meghan Markle’s father will be at her wedding to walk her down the aisle.
Following newspaper stories that Thomas Markle had accepted money to stage photographs of himself preparing for the royal wedding, Kensington Palace was forced to issue a statement on Monday evening.
A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said: "This is a deeply personal moment for Ms Markle in the days before her wedding.
"She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr Markle in this difficult situation."
It has been suggested in some reports that Mr Markle has pulled out of the wedding even though he was due to meet the Queen and other senior royals this week.
Some websites claim Mr Markle has suffered a heart attack - although the severity of any health issues remain unclear.
Mr Markle, who moved across the US border to Mexico, has been seen in several pictures being measured for a suit, reading a book about British landmarks and working out to get in shape for the wedding.
As of last week, the plan was for him to meet his daughter at the West Steps of St George’s Chapel and give her away to Prince Harry.
The former Hollywood lighting director was due in the UK this week along with his ex-wife Doria Ragland.
A freelance photographer is said to have paid Mr Markle to pose for the photographs of him seemingly getting ready for the wedding, and they have appeared in several magazines and newspapers already.
Monday night’s development suggests he will not make the service on Saturday.
Given the meticulous preparations that have been made for the wedding, it is a significant and unexpected development that has clearly hit the couple very hard.
Special coverage of Harry and Meghan – The Royal Wedding will be broadcast on ITV from 9.25am on Saturday 19th May. For more on the wedding and other stories on the Royal Family, follow the ITV News Royals page on Facebook.