MEGHAN Markle’s ex-diplomat uncle Michael has died at the age of 82 – having never met her husband Prince Harry.
Sources told The Sun that Markle, who was known as Mike, had been battling Parkinson’s disease and had suffered falls in recent months.
The news comes as Prince Harry returned to the UK to unveil a statue of his mother, Princess Diana.
A source said: “Mike was a lovely, gentle, softly spoken old man.
“He was always happy to be asked about Meghan, but whenever he spoke to anyone he mainly wanted to talk about his late wife – he loved her so much.”
After his wife’s passing, Markle is said to have moved from his home in Oregon to be closer to his daughter.
There, despite his illness, Markle managed to keep his independence while living in a trailer community, a source said.
Mike was “very proud” of Meghan, according to a source, and wished he had the opportunity to meet Harry.
They added: “He was quite well known in his community for being Meghan’s uncle, and he would always stop for a chat to say how proud he was of her even though he didn’t often agree with how she went about things.
“He would usually just chuckle and say, ‘It’s not every day you have a prince in the family, though, I suppose!’”
The 82-year-old previously told Woman Magazine that he had helped Megan on her way to becoming a stateswoman when she was 20 years old.
Mike said he secured Megan an internship as a junior press officer in the American embassy in Argentina when she was considering a career in international relations.
Over recent years, however, Mike, like his brother Thomas, said he had become estranged from Meghan ahead of her royal wedding to Prince Harry.
Thomas Markle was set to walk his daughter down the aisle but decided not to attend the ceremony due to health issues.
A source said that Mike “wasn’t a fan of how they’d iced out her dad.”
“His face often turned a bit dark whenever that was mentioned. I don’t think they were ever in touch with him to his dying day”, they said.
“I know he was disappointed not to be invited to the wedding – he knew that a lot of the family wouldn’t be, but he held out hope that since he shaped her formative years by getting her that internship in Buenos Aires at the embassy, she might see fit to invite him.
“He wasn’t well enough to travel even back then, but it would have been nice for him to know he was loved and appreciated by the niece he helped so much when she was just starting out.”
In early 2020, he encouraged the Duchess to reach out to her father before it’s too late.
Speaking to the Express around the time of the coronavirus outbreak, Mike said: “Meghan famously said, ‘Not many people have asked if I’m OK.’ She would do well in this time of a genuine crisis to ask her dad if he is OK.
“People of my age and Tom’s are dying due to the virus. There’s nothing wrong with being courteous.
“It’s about time she should try to mend any differences she has with family before it is too late. I think that she should be in touch with her dad.
“Tom should be speaking to his daughter and his newest grandson.”