The chapel is booked, the military escort perfected, and the orders of service, quite literally, printed. Meghan Markle has been left negotiating the last-minute dilemma of who was going to walk her down the aisle, as her mother settled in to life with the Royal family. Doria Ragland, who is now the most likely candidate to accompany the bride down the aisle, enjoyed tea with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, after Ms Markle’s father was confirmed as being absent from the wedding. In a heartfelt statement, Ms Markle asked for her father to be given “space” to recover after he contacted her to tell say he would not be able to come to the wedding, after taking medical advice. The bride-to-be was photographed on Thursday with Prince Harry, being driven down Windsor Castle’s Long Walk to undertake final rehearsals for their wedding on Saturday. Meghan Markle appeared in good spirits Credit: Karwai Tang Smiling and fiddling with her engagement ring, Ms Markle appeared to be taking a difficult week in her stride as the Royal family rallied round to help. Ms Ragland, who only flew in to Heathrow on Wednesday, has now met the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. Ms Ragland will meet the Queen on Friday at Windsor Castle. She spent time with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as they took part in a full rehearsal of Saturday’s service. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry arrive at their wedding rehearsal Credit: Eddie Mulholland The young page boys and bridesmaids were shown the ropes at St George’s Chapel, with ten children aged between two and seven due to accompany Ms Markle. She had previously taken tea at Clarence House with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. In what was described by sources as a “jolly” encounter, Prince Harry, Ms Markle and her mother joined the heir to the throne at home to enjoy a quiet moment in the middle of a busy day of meetings. Ms Ragland is said to have “thoroughly enjoyed” the gathering, feeling welcomed by the Prince and Duchess with whom she has much in common. Ms Ragland has met Prince George and Princess Charlotte Credit: Karwai Tang The Duchess has recently taken on patronages of charities to support the elderly, Ms Ragland’s area of work, while both are known to be regular practitioners of yoga. The issue of who will walk Ms Markle down the aisle remains under discussion, with Ms Markle understood to want to delay announcing a replacement for her father too soon out of respect for him. Orders of service have already been printed, stating that the bride “will be accompanied by her father”. In fact, Thomas Markle is not well enough to travel, citing heart problems after it emerged he had colluded with the paparazzi for staged photographs in his home town in Mexico. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arrive at Kensington Palace In a statement issued by Kensington Palace, Ms Markle said: “Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding,” she said. “ I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health. “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.” By Ms Markle’s side on the final days leading up to the wedding, her mother is helping finalise plans for the day. Meghan Markle has introduced the Duchess of Cambridge to her mother Credit: Eddie Mulholland Already confirmed as travelling with Ms Markle to the castle for the service, she is considered the most likely candidate, reflecting their close relationship and the bride’s belief in gender equality. Ms Markle could still choose to walk alone, or be accompanied by a male friend of member of the Royal family such as the Prince of Wales or Duke of Cambridge, who already has duties as best man. The Duke of Edinburgh, who walked Princess Margaret down the aisle in 1960, is expected to attend after recovering well from a hip replacement operation. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on Saturday Credit: AP In Windsor, thousands of members of the public turned out to watch preparations outside the castle walls, where the armed forces carried out a dress rehearsal for their roles on the day. Some 250 members of the armed forces are expected to take part in Saturday’s festivities, lining the streets as the newlywed man and wife head on a 25-minute carriage ride through the town. Rehearsals underway in Windsor Credit: Reuters There is a heavy police presence, with armed officers stationed around town and other officers on top of buildings looking over the crowds. The warm and sunny weather experienced by visitors is due to continue until Saturday when, according to forecasters, it will be 21C.
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