“Growing up with Megan was a great experience, we had a really good childhood together. We were very close, and even though our families were, you know, living in different locations ... we still got together for the holidays and lots of quality time,” he says, explaining his father Thomas Markle’s divorce from his mum, Roslyn, and second marriage to Meghan’s mum, Doria Ragland.
As part of his apparent rebrand, Thomas, 55, openly concedes he made terrible faults when his sister became engaged to Prince Harry in 2017 – an unexpected move on all fronts.
“I was thrown to the wolves with the popularity and the media with no experience,” he recalls of the whirlwind moment, noting his sister became the most famous woman in the world overnight.
“I was being backed into a corner, into a wall. I made some horrible mistakes and still regret them to this day. But filming Big Brother, I mean, my God, I mean, I got so much out of that personally, on a spiritual level, clearing the dust away, the bad clouds, the bad energy, and it turned into the most amazing, positive experience to undo all the bad,” he says with a smile.
WATCH: Meghan Markle's brother Thomas Markle Jr speaks out
While Meghan’s fans, the dedicated Sussex Squad, may roll their eyes at the comparison, Thomas says he urges people to see the similarities in his and Meghan’s situations when they were both thrust into the spotlight.
“Maybe I overreacted because the same exact thing happening to Meghan was happening to me,” he says.
“I reacted on some information I got from some PR person at the palace, that maybe didn’t have anything to do with Meghan and she didn’t even say it. But me being under so much pressure, and hounded and harassed, all I wanted was them off my back,” he says, adding, “I love my sister, I always have."
While the jury is still out on whether or not Meghan and Harry will find time to tune in to watch the show from Montecito, California, Thomas is being deadly serious when he says his spot on the show is a last shot at maybe one day meeting his nephew and niece, Archie, 2, and Lilibet, 4 months.
Thomas wisely admits there is no point hoping he can turn back time, but instead is looking forward to a brighter future – one where he gets to play uncle to Meghan and Harry’s son and daughter – of which the latter has not been unveiled to the public yet.
“I don’t need a photo-op to go see my sister, and I don’t want a story behind it. I don’t want anything, I would just love to go over to their home and knock on the door, give her a big hug and kiss, and say I missed the hell out of her and apologise right to her face ... maybe one day that will happen,” he says. “I’d do anything to see Archie and Lilibet.”
As for the drama that’s set to unfold when Thomas is unveiled as the world’s most famous ‘big brother’ in the VIP hotel, he says viewers will be surprised by the dynamic – including an unlikely friendship with none other than Married At First Sight villain, Jessika Power.
“I’m going to tell you, I enjoyed everyone except for [Donald Trump’s former aide], Omarosa. I formed a relationship with everybody in the house – we made a pact it didn’t matter what happened, we would remain friends.
“I think Jess is someone who had a very similar experience to me – she shot to fame very quickly and was on a very controversial show ... and played a very intense person and copped a bit of a beating,” he muses, admitting it was nice to have something in common with Aussie and international stars he didn’t know.
“I love the culture a hell of a lot more than the US. Let me put it that way. Can I explain that?” he queries. “Because everybody I’ve met here in Australia are genuine. They’re not contradictory, they’re not selfish,” he explains, refusing to rule out one day even living here – without Big Brother’s eyes watching.
Big Brother VIP premieres Monday, November 1 on Channel 7.
Read more in this week's New Idea, on sale now.