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Meghan Markle’s Father: A “Toxic” Parent?

Harassment. Intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defamation of character. Slander. These are some of the words in a Cease and Desist letter written by an attorney to a toxic parent who took steps to destroy their child’s name, success and happiness, despite all the child was doing to bring happiness, well-being and comforts to that parent.

These are the same words I think newlywed Meghan Markle–the newly-minted Duchess of Sussex–could, likewise, apply to the continuing actions and antics of her father, Thomas Markle.

Yes, he’s her biological  “father,” and he played some role in her early career. But his actions now are anything but loving, just as she’s beginning her new life, in a new environment…and not just any environment.

Being a biological mother or father doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to inflict emotional distress upon your offspring, and the offspring has to take it…indefinitely.

Thomas Markle is old enough to know something about the life of royals in the United Kingdom. Surely he heard of the strain paparazzi placed on Prince William and Harry; as well as the constant pressure on, and likely contribution to the death of, their lovely mother, Princess Diana.

As Meghan prepared for her wedding, instead of honoring her requests, dead ol’ dad embraced the paparazzi, and allowed them to stage him for photos in which he appeared to be interested in the life his daughter was about to enter. That was Violation Number One. He’s since admitted he was “concerned about his image,” not about what stress his actions would cause his daughter and her soon-to-be family. Despite that, Meghan maintained the generous, honorable invite for him to walk her down the aisle.

But then, there’s more headline-grabbing news about Papa Tom: Although being seen with various fast food items, he allegedly had heart surgery and didn’t know if he could make the trip to the UK. (Note: It’s been reported that the hospital to which he said he had the procedure stated he was not a patient there during the time in question.)

Instead of laying low (i.e., “zipping it”), and letting the light shine on his daughter, he thrusts himself into the spotlight with media interviews. In one, he states he told Prince Harry to not lay a hand on his daughter. It’s likely that that speaks more to Markle’s mindset than Prince Harry’s.

Thomas Markle is concerned that he is now a “footnote” in a beautiful story in which he could have had a wonderful role–walking his beautiful, happy daughter down the aisle to marry a member of the British Royal family. But no. Since he felt some regret for his staged photos, he bailed on the wedding, and subsequently has thrust himself onto front pages, criticizing the Royals; negatively critiquing his daughter’s smiling eyes, claiming, in his view, she “looks sad.” Granted he’s done this with the help of media outlets and British journalists.

Thomas Markle is being a toxic parent. Unlike Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, who has been a respectful pillar of grace and decorum, Thomas (and his other daughter, Samantha) seems to have one goal in mind: To upset his daughter’s new life. To make the story all about him. To distract, disrupt, dishearten and destroy.

Do you have a toxic parent? Do you feel guilt for wanting to cut them off, to cut them out of your life; perhaps not letting them see your kids? That parent raised you, etc.; how can you do that? Should you do that?

In medicine, we have a medical pearl: “Sometimes amputation is necessary to preserve life.” I’ve learned that such advice serves well not only for physical gangrenous poisonous afflictions, but likewise, for poisonous, toxic relationships. Sometimes you just have to cut it off. Consider this:

Just as no one wants to lose a limb, certainly no one wants to lose, or be severed from, someone who has been a part of their life for months, years or even decades. But if your relationship has become so diseased and unhealthy that it is draining the very life out of you, and is obviously out to disrupt you and your peace of mind, it’s time to cut it off—to get rid of it—so that you may yet live a happier, healthier life.

Will it hurt? Sure. Will you feel like you don’t know how you’ll go on without this person in your life? Perhaps. But consider the intent of that person. After a while you will see that such a step was necessary for your life and your well-being. The pain of making that “incision” will go away and you will see that sometimes amputation of—or cutting off—an emotionally draining, life-sucking relationship can preserve your life.

I know the parent who received the above-mentioned Cease and Desist; and yes, when that person eventually died, it was truly a liberating loss. That may be something only those who had, or have, toxic parents can grasp.

In 2013, I wrote about this in another post, “Not All Mothers are Loving and Kind” ( . I still get hundreds of emails from people in a similar situation, so “unloving, mean, jealous, destructive, toxic parents” exist. Just because someone is a mother or father doesn’t mean they can’t be toxic, and viciously, intentionally destructive to their children.

Given Thomas Markle’s actions and words; and his continuing interviews with the media, he demonstrates a deliberate intent to inflict emotional distress on his daughter, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and the entire Royal family.

If he has any respect and “love” for his daughter, should he not simply leave her alone, especially as she embarks on this new phase of life in which she is already under a microscope around the world? Perhaps if he’d done that, instead of continuing to assert himself into the headlines, maybe Meghan would communicate with him. But it may be too late.

It was reported on August 13, 2018 that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, will be moving to London to be closer to her daughter. Doria leads by example. Too bad Thomas Markle doesn’t know to follow Doria’s lead to have class, and be circumspect of the process.

While some contend Meghan is being “cold” toward her father, millions support the Duchess of Sussex in the decision to step away from the negative, destructive, toxic person.

If I could speak to Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, I’d say “It’s okay to step away from a toxic person, even if that person is a parent. Cherish the beautiful relationship you have with your loving husband. Relish the overwhelming “welcome” the Royal Family has given you, especially for Prince Charles to escort your mother, and then to walk you down the aisle. Go forth with your wifely duties and family love. Enjoy your husband, and the grand experiences to come. Engage in the projects you two decide worthwhile; and give yourself permission to step away from the toxicity coming at you from someone who should be anything but toxic and destructive to your peace of mind. Thomas Markle is concerned about his image, and wanting to destroy yours. It’s okay for you to step away.”

Toxic parents exist. Sometimes you have to amputate—cut him/her off—from seeing you or having access to you. Cut them off from your life if they are causing you untoward distress, are violent to your peace of mind, and seemingly, are doing all they can to destroy you.

Copyright © 2018 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved. Feel free to share this post on your social network pages, with author credit and link to this page. Bitly for this post: . Tw: @DrMelodyMcCloud

(Photos:; Wedding photo: Access online)

Meghan Markle’s Father: A “Toxic” Parent?

Melody T. McCloud, MD

Dr. Melody T. McCloud is a trailblazing obstetrician/gynecologist, author, public speaker and media contributor. She has received many awards including the "Health-Care Heroes ‘Physician’ Award” per the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and is also recognized as one of the “25 Most Influential Doctors in Atlanta." Dr. McCloud has been interviewed on CNN, Headline News, network affiliates, TBN, the Tom Joyner Morning Show; and her writings or comments have been printed in USA Today, Parade, Essence, Family Circle, Health, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and more. She hosts a health blog at Psychology Today and, upon invitation, speaks nationwide to many organizations. She is a member of the Atlanta Press Club and many leadership organizations.

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APA Reference
McCloud, M. (2018). Meghan Markle’s Father: A “Toxic” Parent?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Aug 2018
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