COMMENT:

Is Thomas Markle bored? Or broke? Or both? It's hard not to wonder what precisely motivated the 75-year-old former Hollywood lighting director to unleash another series of explosive media tirades against his daughter and son-in-law in recent days.

Last week, he participated in a documentary done by UK's Channel Five, followed by an appearance on Good Morning Britain and an interview with the Sun over the weekend.

For a man who until two years ago (or thereabouts) had little if no experience with the press, Markle is a great talent.

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Thomas Markle during his interview on Channel 5.
Thomas Markle during his interview on Channel 5.

The font of his anger and the hurt welling up inside of him seems unending and he has compunction in vociferously and repeatedly criticising his youngest child while the world watches, mouths agape.

A quick recap of some of Markle's most recent round of headline-grabbing comments: That he is going to give an interview every 30-days if he does not hear back from Meghan; that he thinks he and Harry should have a duel and in his estimation the couple's marriage only has a 50/50 chance of surviving.

Hardly the sort of loving fatherly message that would make a devoted daughter come running…

However, there is one word that he used that is the most problematic.

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Of Prince Harry, a man that Markle has never met, he told the Sun, "He's a candy-ass. He's whipped."

And there we have it, "whipped," the sort of gibe that sounds like it has come out of a men's rights handbook and pick up artist audio guide.

Harry and Meghan have faced a vast tsunami of criticism in recent weeks over their decision to step back from full-time royal duties.

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Meghan Markle as a baby with father Thomas Markle. Photo / Instagram
Meghan Markle as a baby with father Thomas Markle. Photo / Instagram

They have been accused of deserting the Queen and the royal family (in the wake of their high-profile exit, there are now only four working HRHs who are under the age of 70); preparing to cash in on their royal credentials and imperilling the future of the monarchy by having the temerity to turn their back on Palace life.

Reports out of London suggest that their swift and turbulent exit from being frontline members of the royal family, along with the press intrusion they face as they remain tucked away inside a $20 million Vancouver Island mansion, has taken a toll.

On Sunday, the Times reported that courtiers have drawn up "contingency plans" in case the Sussex family wants to return to the temporary 'safety' of life tucked away on a vast royal estate somewhere.

"You could bring them back to Frogmore to look after them. They wouldn't return to royal duties, but they could have a period of rehabilitation and recuperation," a source told the newspaper.

Markle's most recent UK media rampage is hardly going to do anything to help the situation.

That said, there is something about Markle's "whipped" comment rankles heavily.

Not because he is simply mouthing off about them but because he is insinuating something that profoundly undermines a core element of both their relationship and their brand.

From the minute that the couple fronted the press in Kensington Palace's Sunken Garden in November 2017, holding each other's hands with an iron grip, they have presented a powerfully unified front. Literally.

In public they consistently stand side-by-side and are tactile in a way that is totally unprecedented for members of the royal family.

(Remember when Kate was photographed touching William's leg during Princess Eugenie's 2018 wedding? The royal press corps nearly self-combusted out of shock.)

The Sussexes' public appearances markedly differ from those of other Windsors in that there is an unabashed physical intimacy that can nearly make it seem as if we the nosey world are intruding on something inherently personal.

Thomas Markle has had plenty to say about his daughter, but his slegde against Harry stood out. Photo / AP
Thomas Markle has had plenty to say about his daughter, but his slegde against Harry stood out. Photo / AP

Harry and Meghan have given the royal family's image (and level of global interest in) an electrifying jolt and part of the reason lies in the fact that the sum greater than the parts.

While both of them are clearly charismatic, warm and inherently charming, when they take their double act on the road there is an undeniable magic quality to their pairing.

Essentially, they are the personification of the phrase "double act."

What is so offensive about Markle's "whipped" dig is that it undermines (if not downright denies) this particular quality that makes them such a magnetic force.

No matter whether you think their withdrawal from The Firm is a brave or selfish move, there is no denying the profound jolt that their union has given the institution of the monarchy.

Together they have helped energise a 1000-year old institution and a significant reason why is because they are such a powerful duo.