With just days to go before Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry, her estranged half-sister, Samantha Grant, is taking the blame for a deeply embarrassing series of photos involving their father, Thomas Markle Sr. Samantha has tweeted and given interviews insisting it's her fault and that their dad only did it at her suggestion.
In recent weeks, Thomas has been snapped by a paparazzi photographer prepping for the wedding in various ways. He was pictured doing everything from being measured for a suit by a purported tailor to lifting weights while walking outdoors to reading a story about his daughter and Harry on a computer at an internet cafe.
Then the Mail on Sunday published a report claiming the Hollywood lighting director, 73, who lives in retirement in Mexico, staged the shots in collaboration with a photographer — implying it was for financial gain. (The Mail on Sunday reported that he stood to make more than $100,000 from the pictures.)
But according to Samantha, he did nothing for a payday and only wanted to get the media off his back and provide a little positive press in the bargain.
According to MailOnline, on May 14, Samantha took to her private Twitter account to send the following message to Kensington Palace: "The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault. The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family. We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money @KensingtonRoyal."
The same day, Samantha — who has made headlines herself for repeatedly criticizing her sister, to whom she hasn't spoken for years — talked to Britain's Daily Star Online to further explain herself.
"It was really my fault," Samantha told the British outlet. "[The media] were beating my dad up, insulting him and I wanted him to look healthy and positive because he was really excited about walking my sister down the aisle.
"So I suggested that he look healthy and it would make the royal family look better as well as himself. I only meant to help because the media can be so cruel," she continued.
Thomas has not commented on the revelations, nor has the palace, but according to MailOnline, he's still slated to walk Meghan down the aisle just as the palace originally announced.
"I wanted photos to show him working on getting in shape because he doesn't drink, he is of good repute and they were just trashing him and I wanted it to stop," Samantha added of her reasoning for, she claims, encouraging her father to do a deal with a photographer.
"He has a quiet, loving man who worked for 40 years in the television [industry] … he just wanted peace and quiet and then the media attacks him, that was so unfair," she added, implying that he did it to get paparazzi off his back.
"He is a very nice man and did not deserve that attack and photographers rented the house next to him in Mexico so he is really being bombarded," Samantha claimed.
A day later on May 14, Samantha appeared on Britain's "Loose Women" talk show and again claimed she's to blame, not her father. "I have to say I am entirely the culprit. As we know, the media can take very unflattering photographs of people on their casual days and blow it way out of proportion," she explained (via People magazine). "I said, you know, the world has no idea you're getting in shape, doing healthy things. They don't photograph you buying vegetables and PH water. They photograph you [in] as unflattering ways as they can."
"So I said, really you need to show the world that you're getting in shape and doing great healthy things. So I suggested it," Samantha said on "Loose Women," continuing, "There's a lot of scrutiny that it was money-motivated, it was not. It was my suggestion that to benefit him and to benefit the royal family that everyone looked good and they depict you as you are — in shape and doing healthy things."
She concluded, "Let me clarify: He's 73, which makes him a bit more fragile. He's a quiet man. I feel that the media have unfairly preyed on him. He's really been admirable about laying low and not speaking out, with all due respect. I merely wanted him to be seen in a respectable light. I didn't feel that was being done so I suggested that the photographers show him as he is, doing positive things and that was never addressed."
Samantha has more often made headlines for trashing her sister rather than defending her family. In April, she went on an epic rant on her Twitter account to rip Meghan and Harry for failing to send her and other family members — such as her equally critical brother, Thomas Markle Jr. — wedding invitations.
"The Markle family is looking forward to our wedding invites. No one has one yet. Still waiting," she wrote. "I hope London is wheelchair friendly. Excited!" (Samantha, who's 17 years older than Meghan, is a former actress who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is wheelchair-bound.)
She continued, "Humanitarians move forward with love and kindness especially to Family… Smoke and mirrors cannot hide the elephant in the room. Out of respect, tradition, and humanitarianism, the #Markles should be invited if 2000 complete strangers are invited."