All eyes are on the former Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, as she and her husband, Prince Harry, give an interview to talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan immediately touched on the topic of race in the United Kingdom, and the treatment she received as a member of the Royal Family. In the interview, Meghan told Oprah that members of the Royal Family (whom she wouldn’t name) raised concern that Archie, the son of Meghan and Harry, would be born with dark skin. She also alleged that the Royal Family didn’t want Archie to carry the title of Prince or be protected by security as a result, which she implied was also due to Archie’s mixed race.
Meghan says it was not her decision for Archie not to be given a royal title
Oprah: “Do you think it's because of his race?”
“Conversations were being had about how dark his skin might be when he was born"
Oprah: “A conversation about how dark your baby is going to be?”
— Noel Phillips (@Noel_Phillips) March 8, 2021
That has some people wondering: What is Meghan Markle’s ethnicity? She is biracial. Her father is white, and her mother is Black. She is the descendant of slaves on her mother’s side of the family. In the past, she has spoken openly about her biracial heritage. Her comments on the Royal Family and race are surely to be a bombshell, as she is the family’s first biracial member.
“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,” she told Elle Magazine.
“To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
In the interview with Oprag.
In the Oprah interview, Meghan dropped bombshells, including claiming that Kate Middleton made her cry.
Here’s what you need to know:
Meghan’s Mother’s Dad, Who Was Black, Was an Antiques Dealer
— BCNN1 (@bcnn1) May 18, 2018
Meghan’s mom is Doria Ragland, who is Black. 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.
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.
Meghan’s Dad Is Dutch-Irish & German
Meghan’s father, Tom, is Dutch-Irish.
He also has German roots.
According to DW, Thomas Markle’s lineage “has been linked to Germany and Switzerland…Bunte magazine claimed that a Johann Markel left his home town of Offenburg in Baden-Württemberg in the late 18th century and moved to Pennsylvania.”
The DW site found that Markle’s ancestors “might have actually come from Lampertsloch, a small commune in France, situated close to the German border…her forefather Heinrich Martin Merckel emigrated to the US and later changed the spelling of his name.”
In addition, the site reported that Markle is Prince Harry’s 17th cousin, saying, “Markle descended from King Edward III, who ruled Wales and England in the Middle Ages.”
Meghan’s Relatives Were Pressers & Hotel Porters in Tennessee
Om her mother’s side, the Tennessee roots are deep. “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.