It's official: Meghan Markle's dad will not—repeat, not—walk her down the aisle.
On Thursday, the bride confirmed the sad news that her father, Thomas Markle, won’t be in attendance when she becomes an official member of the royal family, as he’s recovering from heart surgery.
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. 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,” she wrote in a statement.
So who will do the honor in his place? Royal watchers have quite a few theories, though the front runner is Harry’s own father, Prince Charles.
“If there is a member of the royal family that should help, and walk Meghan down the aisle, it would be the Prince of Wales,” royal expert Ingrid Seward told U.K.’s The Express.
Royal historian Carolyn Harris echoed the sentiment to E!, saying “there has certainly been speculation” that Charles will step in, and would likely do so if the bride and groom asked him to. Clearly, Harry and his bride-to-be have a good relationship with Harry’s father—they’re postponing their honeymoon to attend his birthday celebration next week.
Prince Charles also has a history of walking brides down the aisle, even though he has no daughters of his own. In 2016, he escorted Alexandra Knatchbull down the aisle when she married Thomas Hooper. Alexandra is the daughter of Prince Charles’s good friend Norton Knatchbull, the third Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Alexandra’s father watched from the pews as Charles walked his own daughter down the aisle.
Markle’s mother Doria Raglan is also a contender to take her ex-husband Thomas Markle’s place during Saturday’s ceremony. She’s set to arrive at Windsor Castle with her daughter, making her perfectly positioned to walk her down the aisle. The two are especially close, as Doria will also be spending the night before the wedding in a hotel suite with the bride.
Markle wouldn’t be the first royal bride-to-be that would have her mother give her away, either. Queen Victoria walked two of her daughters, Princess Helena and Princess Beatrice down the aisle in 1866 and 1885, respectively. The Queen stepped in as her husband Prince Albert had passed away before either of the weddings.
Those aren’t the only two options for Markle at Saturday’s royal wedding, though. The former American actress might buck tradition once more and go solo down the aisle, especially if she takes a cue from her good friend Serena Williams. Just one hour before her wedding last year, Williams’s father and longtime tennis coach Richard texted Serena that he didn’t feel comfortable walking her down the aisle, saying he was too nervous. Serena consoled her father and confidently went down the aisle alone.
Other royal fans have proposed that Prince Philip or Prince William will accompany Markle on her big day, though either is pretty unlikely. 96-year-old Philip is still recovering from hip surgery, and his attendance at the wedding is in question, while Prince William will be waiting with Harry at the altar as his brother’s best man.