Meghan Markle's Father Breaks Silence, Calls Staged Paparazzi Photos "a Mistake"

Thomas Markle also reveals in a 'Good Morning Britain' interview how he found out his daughter was dating a prince and how Harry asked his permission to marry her.

Meghan Markle's dad, Thomas Markle, is opening up about his daughter's relationship with Prince Harry and apologizing over staged paparazzi shots that backfired and led to his skipping his daughter's wedding.

In what Good Morning Britain is billing as his "first ever interview," which aired Monday morning in the U.K., Thomas revealed how Meghan told him she was dating a prince.

"The first phone calls were, 'Daddy, I have a new boyfriend, and I said, 'That's really nice,' and the next call was, 'He's British,' and I said, 'That's really nice,' and eventually the third time around was, 'He's a prince,' and at that point she said, 'It's Harry,' and I said, 'Oh Harry. OK.' 'Of course, we'll have to call him "H" so no one knows we're talking about Harry,'" he said of how they kept the relationship under wraps.

Thomas also spoke about how Harry asked for his permission to marry Meghan.

"Actually, Meghan told me first...then the few times after that, Harry got on the phone with Meghan, they called me together, and Harry asked for her hand over the phone and I said, 'You're a gentleman. Promise me you'll never raise your hand against my daughter, and of course I give you my permission," Thomas said.

Thomas did not attend the May 19 wedding. He bowed out after he suffered a heart attack and made headlines for his decision to have staged paparazzi photos taken of him preparing for the wedding, according to TMZ.

"That was a mistake," Thomas told the U.K. morning program Monday of the decision to take part in the staged photos. He said the photos were an attempt to "change my image" after being shown in a series of "derogatory" photos that included his "buying a toilet" and taking out the garbage that made him "look negative."

"I thought it would be a nice way of improving my look well, obviously that all went to hell. I feel bad about it. I apologized for it," he said.

He also told Good Morning Britain that he "absolutely wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle."

Ahead of the wedding, Harry and Meghan — who have since been given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex — requested "understanding and respect" for Thomas.

"This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding," the palace statement said. "She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation."

The palace had previously announced before the nuptials that Thomas and his ex-wife, Doria Ragland, would play important roles in the wedding. Both were expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals in the days before the wedding. Prince Charles, Harry's father, ended up walking Meghan down the aisle.

Thomas told Good Morning Britain that Harry and Meghan were "disappointed" upon learning he wouldn't be able to make the wedding, which he ended up watching from a "little B&B place" that a friend found for him where he could recover after the heart attack away from the media and paparazzi.

"They were disappointed, but they both said — and Meghan cried, I'm sure, she did cry — and they both said, 'Take care of yourself. We're really worried about you.' They said the important thing is that I get better," Thomas said.

Of Meghan, he noted: "She was so beautiful walking down that aisle and so proud and so gorgeous. I was very proud. I couldn't have seen a better moment in my life. I was very upset that it wasn't me, but the whole world was watching my daughter. I was very happy. And now the unfortunate thing for me now is that I'm a footnote in one of the greatest moments in history rather than the dad walking her down the aisle."

Thomas and Ragland divorced when their daughter was 6 years old, but they both played an active role raising her. Thomas spent many years supervising the lighting and camera crew for the Married...With Children television show and often brought young Meghan to the set at Sunset Gower Studios. Since he retired, he has been living in Mexico.

While Thomas and Harry have yet to meet in person, they did touch on politics during a "loose conversation" over the phone before the wedding. He said Harry was "open to the experiment" of Brexit, wherein Britain leaves the European Union.

"“It was just a loose conversation about something we have to try. There was no real commitment to it. ... I think he was open to the experiment," Thomas said.

They also spoke about President Trump.

“Our conversation was, I was complaining I didn’t like Donald Trump. He said, 'Give Donald Trump a chance.' I sort of disagreed with that. But I still like Harry. That was his politics; I have my politics," Thomas said, adding that he isn't sure if he would classify Harry a Trump supporter. "I would hope not now, but at the time, he might have been."

Updated 7:48 a.m. Monday, June 18: Added quotes about Trump, Brexit and Meghan and Harry's reaction to learning Thomas wouldn't be at the weddng.