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Meghan’s half brother, Thomas, spent 11 hours behind bars after his arrest for allegedly holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head during an argument at their home in Grants Pass, Ore. Police said Thomas was in “a drunken state” during the dustup.

EETING the family is a huge step in any relationship. So when Prince Harry, 32, introduced his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, 35, to sister-in-law Kate Middleton on Jan. 10, it was a clear sign the lovers are getting more than serious. The couple, who had just returned from a trip to see the Northern Lights in Norway, visited the duchess at Kensington Palace, and “it couldn’t have gone better,” a royal insider says. Kate’s husband, Prince William, was reportedly there as well, as was their young daughter, Charlotte. “Meg and Harry couldn’t have been happier about how well everyone got along,” the insider adds. “They were really looking forward to taking things to the next level.” Those hopes may turn out to be premature. Just two days after the joyous gettogether, Meghan’s half brother, Thomas Markle II, was arrested in Oregon for allegedly holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head in a drunken altercation — an incident that has cast a shadow over Meghan and Harry’s blossoming romance. “Talk about bad timing!” says a source.

ing with his girlfriend, Darlene Blount, 36, when he “grabbed a gun and pressed it to [her] head in an attempt to get her to leave.” Blount locked herself in the bathroom and called 911, and after the cops arrived at 11 p.m., Thomas was taken into custody and charged with unlawful use of a dangerous weapon, menacing and pointing a firearm at another person. While in jail, Thomas reportedly reached out to his ex-wife, Tracy Dooley, at 3 a.m., and she reportedly paid his $1,500 bail the next day. Herself a recovering alcoholic, Tracy, 51, has publicly claimed Thomas had “issues with alcohol” during their 11-year marriage, which ended in 2001. Thomas showed remorse (sort of ) when reached a few days after his incarceration. “What’s been reported up to now has been a load of rubbish,” he said, while claiming, “[The gun] was unloaded. There were no bullets in it. Darlene and I both had quite a lot to drink — vodka, rum, beer — just the two of us having a good time... I’ve been really dumb and really stupid. Everyone makes mistakes. This time I made a bad one, but we all do. Harry has made a few in his time and learned from them. I just need the same chance.”



ROYAL MESS “He knows his arrest is an embarrassment to Meghan and the family,” added Thomas’ son, Tyler, 27. “He just needs some time to heal and reflect on his life.” Ex-wife Tracy adds: “Tom and Meg used be very close, but there has been some separation over the years. The last thing he would want is to hurt her.” Unfortunately for Meghan, that may yet turn out to be the case. “It’s anybody’s guess what might i h hhappen next,” says the source. “The fact that Meghan is a divorced American actress initially raised serious concerns about her being accepted by his family — and about the possibility of her becoming a duchess. Sadly, the situation with her brother might only complicate things further; the royals will only tolerate so much scandal, and this may well make them think twice about wholeheartedly giving their blessing for Harry and Meghan to walk down the aisle.” H

Meghan was close to her half brother, Thomas (shown playing with his baby sister in 1982, far left), while they were growing up in Los Angeles. His ex-wife, Tracy Dooley, has claimed that Thomas “had a tendency to drink too much” — which may help explain his choice of costume (left) during a family party in the mid-1990s. ““They’ve Th ’ been b dating d i for f eight i h months; h she finally gets to meet William and Kate; and now this happens right afterward. There had been rumors that an engagement was going to be announced soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this scandal causes those plans to be put on hold.” SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL According to a local police report, Thomas, 50, a window fitter in Grants Pass, Ore., had been drinking and argu-

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