Doria Ragland is the mother of the former Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. She has a famously close relationship with her daughter.
The former Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey is expected to discuss her fractured relationship with her family, especially her father, Thomas Markle. However, when it comes to Markle’s relationship with her mom, that appears to be close. Ragland, then 61, went to the royal wedding alone.
Indeed, out of the 600 guests, Meghan’s mom was the lone representative of Meghan’s family. Her father, Thomas Markle, was invited but bowed out because of a staged photo scandal and heart surgery.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Doria’s Dad Was an Antiques Dealer Who Died After Tripping on a Dog Leash
— BCNN1 (@bcnn1) May 18, 2018
Ragland’s extended family is not very large.
Doria Ragland has three half siblings, but both of her parents are deceased. Doria has a living step-grandmother who is about her same age. Meghan is an only child of her parents (although she also has half siblings through her father’s side of the family). Only one of Doria’s three half-siblings appears to have spoken to the media about Meghan, though. He made positive remarks about her.
Doria’s parents have ties to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her father was named Alvin Azell Ragland. “Alvin Ragland was born in Chattanooga during the 1930s. Alvin’s parents and their family lived on Terrace Street and Maple Court,” reports WRCB-TV.
Although the family has long-standing ties to Chattanooga, Doria was born in Ohio and grew up in California, according to The Sun. “The 61-year-old was born in Ohio, to parents who were a nurse and an antique dealer. The family later moved to Los Angeles, where Doria attended Fairfax High School,” the Sun reported.
The Times Free-Press reported that “Alvin Ragland is Markle’s maternal grandfather. He was born in Chattanooga around 1930, according to Chattanooga’s 1930 Census. At age 14, he worked as a hotel porter downtown.”
According to The Free-Press, “Alvin Ragland eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he died March 12, 2011, at age 82.” Daily Mail reported that Alvin died after tripping on a dog’s leash outside Meghan’s mother’s home. Old friends described him to Daily Mail as a “hardworking Los Angeles antique dealer who used to travel far and wide to flea markets in a ‘beat up car packed with junk'” and once owned his own antiques store. He was described to Daily Mail as charming and nice, although a bit roguish.
Meghan’s father, Tom, is Dutch-Irish.
2. Meghan’s Mom, Who Is Divorced From Her Dad, Worked as a Social Worker
Meghan is the daughter of divorced parents: Ragland and Thomas Markle. She has written emotionally about her mother and about what it is like being a biracial person as her mother is black and her father white.
Meghan’s mother and her father, Thomas Markle, divorced when she was six, according to UK Daily Mail. She is sometimes photographed with her mother on the red carpet.
On Friday, May 18, 2018, the day before the Royal Wedding, Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland, was photographed after leaving tea with the Queen of England. Doria “joined Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, for afternoon tea,” NBC News reported.
At the wedding itself, Doria arrived with Meghan by car and seemed almost teary-eyed as she watched her daughter marry a prince.
According to The Today Show, Doria Ragland has also met the other key members of Prince Harry’s family. “She had tea with Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at their Clarence House residence in London. She also met Prince William, his wife, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and their two oldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, during wedding rehearsals in Windsor,” Today reports.
— Stefanie Soar (@TheStyleInside) May 19, 2018
Meghan’s mom has worked as a social worker in the Los Angeles-area, although she recently quit that job, possibly to start her own practice.
US Magazine reported that Doria was overwhelmed by the focus on her since her daughter became engaged to Prince Harry. “Doria made the very difficult decision to leave her job at the clinic because there had been a lot of calls from the media asking to speak with her because her daughter was marrying Prince Harry,” a source told US. “It just became overwhelming for Doria and she considered taking a leave of absence, but recognized that the interest was only going to continue after the wedding.”
In 2016, Meghan wrote a tribute to her mom on Instagram, complete with a photo of her mother in a graduation cap and gown.
“Always proud of this beautiful woman,” she wrote on Mother’s Day. “This was when she graduated from USC with a masters in social work. Honoring my mom, Doria, and all the amazing mamas in our lives.”
Doria’s Facebook page says she worked in social work at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in California. She says she went to Fairfax High School and lives in Los Angeles. She is friends on Facebook with “Meghan Markle Engelson,” which was Meghan’s married name (Meghan Markle is divorced from Trevor Engelson).
3. Meghan Once Called Her Mother Her ‘Hot Mama’ & Doria Met With Oprah Winfrey
On another mother’s day, Meghan referred to her mother on Instagram as her “hot mama.”
According to UK Daily Mail, both Meghan’s parents have filed for bankruptcy; her mother in 2002 “over a $52,750 credit card bill.” Her father is a lighting director thought to be in Mexico, reports Daily Mail.
Doria Ragland reportedly met with Oprah Winfrey and bonded over discussions about race. That set tongues wagging that Doria might grant an interview with Oprah. Meghan’s mom has so far kept a wide berth from the press.
Meghan has written openly about what it is like being bi-racial, especially growing up. Her mother is black, and her father is white.
She penned a moving essay for Elle Magazine, which includes many anecdotes about her parents. The article discusses “creating her identity and finding her voice as a mixed race woman.”
In the article, Meghan explains how people repeatedly inquire “where she is from,” when she knows what they are really after: “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.” Meghan wrote that her parents met in the late Seventies when her father “was a lighting director for a soap opera and my mom was a temp at the studio. I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques. Whatever it was, they married and had me.”
Family:Meghan Markle and her mother Doria Radlan were pictured by Bella New York magazine -www.bellanyc.com – at … https://t.co/sEIqd3cgmV
— S Ari (@sivanville) November 27, 2016
They moved to a non-diverse area of LA, where Meghan laments that her mother would be mistaken for the nanny. Then came the racial slur. “I was home in LA on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver,” she wrote.
She eloquently wrote, “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.” However, the essay is uplifting. She concludes, “While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
You can read the full Elle essay here.
The world’s first glimpse of Doria Ragland came when she joined Prince Harry and Meghan in a box at the Invictus Games.
Doria joined Meghan and Prince Harry in a private box to watch the Invictus Games, demonstrating the growing seriousness in her daughter’s relationship with the British prince.
First picture of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and her mother Doria together – courtesy of top Daily Mail photographer Mark Large pic.twitter.com/7tp211ilhY
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) October 1, 2017
According to Hello Magazine, “Meghan is a yoga devotee and began practising at the age of seven with her instructor mother Doria Radlan.”
In December 2016, Meghan and her mother were photographed walking together in Toronto with yoga mats.
UK Express reported that Suits star Meghan has described her mother as a “‘free-spirited clinical therapist’ who took her daughter travelling to remote – often impoverished – places around the world” and once said, “Both my parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot.” Her mother met with the Queen wearing a nose ring.
4. Ragland’s Mother Was an Insurance Company Secretary
Doria’s mother was named Jeannette Johnson, an insurance company secretary. She was Alvin Ragland’s first wife and died in 2000 at age 71. Alvin’s second wife was named Ava Burrow Ragland. According to WRCB, she was “a kindergarten teacher for Hamilton County schools at Normal Park and Woodmore Elementary from 1991-1993.” Ava was 29 and Alvin 53 when they married, Daily Mail reported.
Ava Burrow’s Facebook page says she is a teacher at Morongo Band of Mission Indians, “studied Art and Education at uci/msu,” went to Notre Dame Academy in Los Angeles, is divorced, and lives in Indio, California. She is from Los Angeles.
The UK Daily Mail hired a genealogist, Elizabeth Banas, to conduct extensive research into Meghan’s family history and found that her mother’s side is also mixed race. The British news site reported that Ava Burrow “is still alive” and “worked for Hamilton County Schools in Tennessee before they moved to California.”
According to Sky News, Doria Ragland has three siblings, a half brother named Joseph Johnson, a sister named Saundra Johnson, and a half-brother, Alvin Joffrey Ragland, who was the child of Ava Burrow and Alvin Ragland Sr.
Joseph Johnson and Saundra Johnson are the children of Jeannette and her first husband, also named Joseph Johnson. Jeannette divorced twice.
“We’re not invited unless our invitation got lost in the mail,” Joseph Johnson, 68, told Daily Mail. Saundra Johnson declined to comment.
Joseph Johnson spoke to Daily Mail, which revealed that Meghan was a bridesmaid at her aunt Saundra’s wedding. “She was always a special child, so happy,” Joseph Johnson told the British news site. “Right from the start it was clear she was special and had a magical quality about her. She always had a happy demeanor.” Daily Mail also ran a slew of family photos along with its interview with Joseph Johnson.
“Meghan was raised in a household of strong women because there were no men on the scene,” Joseph Johnson told Daily Mail. Meghan also has cousins through her mother’s side of the family.
5. Meghan’s Relatives Were Pressers & Hotel Porters in Tennessee
Doria’s family has deep ties to Tennessee.
“Meghan’s great-grandfather worked as a bag handler at the Northern Hotel. The hotel is now the home of the Mountain City Club,” WRCB-TV reported. His name was Steve R. Ragland, and he married Louis Russell in 1929, the television state reported, adding that Steve Ragland also worked as “a presser at a cleaning shop in Chattanooga.”
Steve’s father Jeremiah Ragland, Meghan’s great-great grandfather, moved the family to Tennessee from Georgia, according to the station. He married Claudia Ritchie, a maid.
However, the Times Free-Press reports that Jeremiah Ragland, Meghan’s great-great-grandfather, actually “had his own tailor shop business in Chattanooga in the 1920s where he worked as a presser,” and it was her maternal grandfather Alvin who “worked as a hotel porter” at age 14.
According to Daily Mail, Jeremiah Ragland’s mother was a white woman named Texas and he was described in a census document as being of mixed race. Her name was also given as Mahala Hendrick and she married a man named Steve.
The Daily Mail genealogist was unable to trace the family back to the years when slavery was allowed. That’s common when tracing families back to the horrors of slavery, where genealogy records can be tough to come by. “There is only a slim chance that Markle is not descended from slaves,” Daily Mail reports.
In a lengthy essay for Elle Magazine about being biracial, Meghan wrote that she had an ancestor with the last name Wisdom. “Perhaps the closest thing to connecting me to my ever-complex family tree, my longing to know where I come from, and the commonality that links me to my bloodline, is the choice that my great-great-great grandfather made to start anew. He chose the last name Wisdom. He drew his own box,” she wrote.
However, the Daily Mail genealogist could find no record of an ancestor with that last name, stating that it’s not uncommon for such stories to exist in family lore, and due to the difficulty in tracing genealogy during slavery, it doesn’t mean it’s not true.