What is the platonic ideal of a successful paparazzi shot? Ron Galella, recognized as one of the pioneers of the genre in America, defined his style of photography as one that pursued authenticity and spontaneity. “Other photographers would do posed and well-lit pictures,” he told Vanity Fair, in 2015. “I captured celebrities in their environments: at parties, in airports, when they were not aware of the photographer or the camera. This was the real them.” I thought of Galella’s words last week, as I looked at pictures of Thomas Markle, who, while not a celebrity himself, is closely associated with one; he is the father of Meghan Markle, the American actress set to marry Prince Harry this Saturday. A retired Hollywood lighting director who now lives a few miles south of the American border, in Rosarito, Mexico, he and Meghan, according to People, have had their “ups and downs” but are now in “a good place.” In the images, which were shot in March, the elder Markle is seen engaged in a number of everyday activities, all linked to the impending royal nuptials. In one set of pictures, he is being measured, apparently for the wedding suit that he would wear to walk his daughter down the aisle; in another image, he is at the front window of a local Starbucks, studiously thumbing through a book about British landmarks; in another, he is sitting at an Internet café, looking at online coverage of Meghan and Harry, seemingly unaware of the photographer’s lens.
It was this last image that I found the most striking. Wearing an oversized blue hoodie, Markle is tucked within the close, dun-colored confines of a public workstation, his wide back turned to the camera. On the screen in front of him, the gorgeous, chiselled profiles of his daughter and the prince pop in black and white, against the turquoise, blue, and white palette of the Mexican Internet café. Looking at the image, it is easy to imagine the father’s pride, tinged with his regret at losing his daughter—the photograph emphasizing the suddenly unbridgeable divergence between his world and hers. The picture’s poignancy is informed by what we think we know of fathers and daughters, and of the affection and necessary separation that often defines the relationship between them.
Early this week, the Mail on Sunday revealed that these paparazzi pictures were, in fact, staged; Markle had collaborated