TEMPO.CO, Windsor - U.S. actress Meghan Markle finally confirmed on Thursday her father would not be attending her wedding to Britain`s Prince Harry, putting an end to days of speculation that marred the build-up to this weekend's glittering ceremony.
Harry, Queen Elizabeth's grandson, and Markle, a star of TV drama "Suits", will tie the knot on Saturday at the 15th Century St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, home to the British royal family for nearly 1,000 years.
Markle's father, Thomas, had been due to walk his daughter down the aisle in front of a congregation of senior royals, celebrities, friends of the couple and a TV audience of hundreds of millions.
But the former lighting director for TV soaps and sitcoms gave a series of contradictory statements this week about whether he would be there, with the Los Angeles-based celebrity website TMZ.com saying he had undergone heart surgery on Wednesday.
"Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health," Meghan Markle, 36, said in a statement.
"I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday."
Saturday's wedding will be a sumptuous show of British pageantry that is likely to attract a huge world audience.
Supporters hope the union of one of the most popular royals and a glamorous American actress, a divorcee with a white father and an African-American mother, will reinvigorate the monarchy.
Beside the British royal family, which blends sometimes stuffy European traditions with the global popularity of modern superstars, Markle has brought some Hollywood glamour and a sense of modernity to the House of Windsor.
However, much of the carefully planned and choreographed build-up to the ceremony has been overshadowed by confusion over the attendance of Markle's father, who is divorced from her mother, Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor and social worker.
TMZ said it had spoken to Markle's father after his surgery and that "he seemed alert and coherent, telling us doctors implanted stents in his blood vessels". It was not known when he would be out of the hospital.
Ragland, who will spend the night before the wedding with her daughter in a luxury hotel and accompany her to the chapel, has arrived in Britain and is due to meet the 92-year-old queen and her husband Prince Philip, 96, on Thursday. Royal commentators have speculated she will now walk her daughter down the aisle instead.