The Duchess of Sussex's estranged father has spoken in depth for the first time about the Megxit crisis – and accused his daughter of 'cheapening' the Royal Family and throwing away 'every girl's dream' for money.
In a TV documentary, Thomas Markle describes Meghan and Harry's behaviour as embarrassing, says they are "turning into lost souls" and, in a reference to a discount American supermarket giant, adds: "They are turning it [the Royal Family] into a Walmart with a crown on."
Mr Markle's intervention in the monarchy's worst crisis for a generation came as the Queen's top aides finalised a deal for the couple, who are quitting as frontline Royals and leaving Britain to seek financial independence.
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He tells the Channel 5 documentary: "When they got married they took on an obligation, and the obligation is to be part of the Royals and to represent the Royals. And it would be foolish for them not to.
"This is one of the greatest long-living institutions ever. They are destroying it, they are cheapening it, making it shabby… they shouldn't be doing this."
The 90-minute documentary, Thomas Markle: My Story, explores the background to what it calls his "complicated" relationship with his daughter and their dramatic fallout in the run-up to her wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018.
In addition, it charts Meghan's formative years – she lived with Mr Markle between the ages 11 and 18.
It is expected to be broadcast imminently, though a date has not yet been fixed.
Sitting on a wicker chair at his home in Mexico, Mr Markle, 75, a retired Hollywood lighting director, is filmed talking thoughtfully about the Sussexes' decision to break from the pressures of Royal life and step down from their duties.
He says: "With Meghan and Harry separating from the Royals… it's disappointing because she actually got every girl's dream.
"Every young girl wants to become a princess and she got that and now she's tossing that away… it looks like she's tossing that away for money."
And referring to their refurbished home at Frogmore Cottage near Windsor Castle, he says: "Apparently $3 million and a 26-room home isn't enough for them… it is kind of embarrassing to me."
The couple have agreed to relinquish their public funding – and repay the cost of work on their home – as they seek to become financially independent, giving them the licence to strike commercial deals as part of their Sussex Royal brand. Some experts predict the brand could be worth at least £400 million.
But senior Royals are said to be aghast at any notion of monetising the monarchy.
Mr Markle, who has not spoken to the Duchess since before the wedding, which he missed because of heart surgery, says he believes their relationship is now beyond repair. He tells the programme: "I can't see her reaching out to me, especially now, and in light of what I'm saying now she probably won't, or Harry for that matter.
"But I think both of them are turning into lost souls at this point.
"I don't think they know what they are looking for."
Yesterday, the Duchess remained on Vancouver Island at the borrowed mansion on a secluded peninsula where the couple spent their first Christmas with their son Archie. She was joined on Thursday by a close friend, Pilates instructor Heather Dorak. Last week the Duchess made two 'surprise' visits to the mainland from her island bolthole.
Visiting the Justice For Girls charity, which fights for an end to violence, poverty and racism in youngsters' lives, Meghan sat at a table deep in conversation and posed for a group shot.
Earlier, she called in at the head office of Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, which supports women fleeing violence, dealing with homelessness or living in poverty.
Meghan had not announced her visits, but appeared happy for the two groups to share images online afterwards.
On Thursday Harry made what could be his last ever official appearance when he hosted the draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace.
The deal reached yesterday raised questions over how Harry and Meghan intend to honour such commitments as patrons to their various organisations if they are to spend significant amounts of time in Canada.
Harry is expected to fly out to Canada to be reunited with his wife and son within days.
The Queen has made plain her regret at the couple's 'abdication' plan, saying in a statement after the Sandringham summit that she 'would have preferred them to remain full-time working members'.
Last night Channel 5 said its documentary was "coming soon".
Commissioning editor Daniel Pearl said: "At its heart this sensitively made, insightful film explores a complicated father-daughter relationship and the pressure upon it when that relationship becomes a global news story."