Meghan Markle's father is set to undergo heart surgery on May 16, and will be unable to attend his daughter's wedding to Britain's Prince Harry, celebrity news website TMZ reported. AFP

LONDON: Meghan Markle confirmed on Thursday that her father will not be present to walk her down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry on Saturday.

"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," she said in a statement.

Thomas Markle's appearance at the Windsor Castle ceremony on Saturday has been under a cloud of doubt for most of this week, as a series of U-turns were reported over his intention to attend.

He was originally reported to have pulled out of the ceremony after a paparazzi scandal, where he allegedly posed for a set of staged photos sold for a reported £100,000 (114,000 euros, $135,000) -- in a breach of royal etiquette ahead of the meticulously planned big day.

Sources told US celebrity site TMZ he felt too embarrassed to attend in the fallout from the revelations.

He then signalled his intention to attend after being contacted by Markle via text, according TMZ, but questions remained as he was due to undergo heart surgery with just days to go before the wedding.

Meghan Markle's statement made through Kensington Palace, the official London residence of Prince Harry, confirmed that her father, who lives in Mexico, will not attend the wedding for health reasons.

"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," Meghan Markle added in the statement.

It has been widely speculated in the UK media that Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland may stand in to walk her daughter down the aisle. - AFP

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