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Prince Charles to walk Meghan Markle down aisle at royal wedding

Britain's Prince Charles leaves a meeting with the

Britain's Prince Charles leaves a meeting with the head of Greece's Orthodox Church Archbishop Ieronymos in Athens on May 10. Photo Credit: AP / Petros Giannakouris

WINDSOR, England — Prince Charles will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle at the royal wedding — stepping in after the father of the bride fell ill just days before the ceremony.

Kensington Palace said Friday that Markle's future father-in-law, the heir to the British throne, would walk the American actress down the aisle at St. George's Chapel in Windsor for her wedding to Prince Harry. The palace says he "is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to the Royal Family in this way."

The decision comes after feverish speculation about who would have the honor after the bride announced that her father, Thomas Markle, wouldn't attend because of poor health. The bookies had suggested that Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, was the favorite to have that honor.

Unlike Ragland, Harry's father has a lifetime of experience in appearing at large-scale public events amid intense scrutiny. The palace said Markle had asked Charles to offer a supporting arm.

Having the father of the groom take the honor offers yet another twist in a royal wedding that is proving to be different than many others. Normally such occasions are choreographed to the second — and replete with tradition.

But things began to unravel last week after it emerged that Thomas Markle allegedly staged paparazzi photos in what celebrity website TMZ said was an effort to improve his image and show him to be a loving father preparing for the big day.

Speaking from Windsor, TMZ's Sean Mandell told the BBC that the father was hurt by negative headlines and inaccurate portrayals.

"He was trying to explain his side of things - that him working with the paparazzi for those staged photos was an attempt to recast his image to show him as a loving father who was getting ready for his daughter's wedding, and not as a reclusive lush."

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