Meghan Markle's half-brother has reportedly been arrested after allegedly holding a gun to a woman's head following a drunken argument.

Thomas Markle Jr was arrested late on Thursday (12 January) in Grants Pass, Oregon. He was taken into custody after an alleged altercation with a woman that escalated into violence.

The 50-year-old was charged with menacing, pointing a firearm at another person, and unlawful use of a weapon, according to public police records.

Deputy Jill Elardi, of Josephine County Sheriff's Office, confirmed the arrest and charges saying: "He was arrested at 11pm on January 12 and released on Friday at 10am. He will be going to court for it."

He was released after 3am after his ex-wife Tracy Dooley posted bail of $1,500 (£1,200). "When he called he sounded very sad and asked if I would help to get him out of jail," she told The Mail on Sunday.

She explained that her ex - who she was married to for 11 years before divorcing in 2011 - had alcohol issues. "He had issues with alcohol during our marriage, as I did. My life was a mess until I got sober. Tom and I partied a lot when we were married. I don't know what he was doing in California. He had a tendency to drink too much.

"I hope this incident helps him get the help he needs to deal with alcohol issues he might have. All of his family love and support him and are very concerned about him. He needs to recognise if he has a problem and seek the help he needs". She added: 'I'm sure Meghan would want him to get the help he needs.

Dooley said Thomas, whose father Thomas Markle Sr is also Meghan's dad, would not want the incident to adversely affect Meghan. "I don't want this to be embarrassing for Meghan," she explained. "Tom has had a little fame and publicity since Meghan started dating Prince Harry. He wants what's best for her. He is so happy and proud for her. They used to be very close but there has been some separation over the years. The last thing he would want to do is to hurt her."

The arrest will almost certainly be a cause of embarrassment for The Suits star, who has been dating Prince Harry for several months, and may even raise concerns in Royal circles as to her suitability as a consort for the eligible royal.

Prince Harry, 32, recently went public with the relationship which has been described as 'serious'. Meghan, 35, has visited Harry in London, staying at Kensington Palace and has also met Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Thomas Jr was living with his father, sister Samantha and step-mother Doria in Los Angeles when Meghan was born in 1981.

Earlier this month, Thomas Jr said his 72-year-old father was 'proud' of his daughter's relationship with Harry and added that the pair were 'very much in love'.

"My dad knew about [the relationship] from the start," he told "He first met Prince Harry about six months ago in Toronto."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been dating for almost seven months Getty

When news first broke of his half-sister's relationship with the British royal Thomas Jr said: "I think it is wonderful. As long as he takes care of and loves Meg, he doesn't have to do anything else – although I would like to shake his hand and meet him."

Commenting on his half-sister's suitability as a royal wife he said: "They get along and that's what matters ... Prince Harry is lucky. She's the right girl for the job [of being a princess]. It's not a job, but she's the right girl. You couldn't get a more refined, well-rounded person than her."

The incident comes as royal watchers speculate that Prince Harry is "truly in love" with the US actress and is expected to announce his engagement to the actress this year .

The couple reportedly welcomed the New Year with a romantic vacation in Norway, where they viewed the Northern Lights.

Meghan is also due to accompany Prince Harry at his best friend's wedding in Jamaica.