Prince Harry, whose engagement to Meghan Markle was announced Monday, is about to marry into an American family.
Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, is a yoga instructor and social worker with whom Prince Harry’s flame seems very close. Her father, Thomas Markle, has worked as a lighting director for U.S. soap operas.
Meghan is the daughter of divorced parents: Meghan’s parents divorced when she was six, according to UK Daily Mail. She has written emotionally about her mother and about what it is like being a biracial person (her mother is black, and her father is white). Many sites give her mother’s name as Doria Radlan, but, on her Facebook page, Meghan’s mother calls herself Doria Ragland.
According to BBC, Prince Harry, who is the fifth in line to the British throne, and Markle, announced their engagement on November 27, revealing the marriage will occur in spring 2018. “They will live at Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace, London. The couple, who have been dating since the summer of 2016, secretly got engaged earlier this month,” BBC reported, as the couple posed for photos and Prince Harry and his father declared themselves both “thrilled” by the news.
It was widely believed an engagement was imminent after 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. An engagement is now expected soon. In addition, to her parents, Meghan has half siblings who have generated negative headlines.
Here are more photos from that moment:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Meghan’s Mom has a Master’s Degree in Social Work & Her Parents Are Divorced
In 2016, Meghan wrote a tribute to her mom on Instagram, complete with a photo of her mother in a graduation cap and gown. She has spoken about their close relationship. “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 works 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). On another mother’s day, Meghan referred to her mother on Instagram as her “hot mama.”
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.
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,” UK Express reports.
According to Daily Mail, “Harry also asked Meghan’s parents Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, who divorced when their daughter was six, for her hand in marriage before popping the question a few weeks ago,” and Meghan’s parents said in a statement, “Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents.”
2. Meghan’s Father Worked as a Lighting Director
According to the Sun, Tom Markle, Meghan’s dad, “is of Dutch-Irish origin, and was born in 1945. Thomas is a former television lighting director working on iconic US shows including Married with Children and General Hospital.” The Sun adds, “In 2011 he won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Drama Series for his work on General Hospital, a long-running US soap. He was married to Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, in 1979 – but they divorced in 1988.”
Meghan wrote about her childhood in an essay in Elle Magazine. In it, she says 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.”
They moved to a non-diverse area of LA, where Meghan laments that her mother would be mistaken for the nanny, according to Elle Magazine. Meghan “spent time on film sets as a child because her father Thomas was a lighting director on the series Married with Children and General Hospital,” reports UK Express.
She has described her father as the “most hardworking father you can imagine” and said, “My father was the lighting director on two television shows as I was growing up,” UK Express reports.
According to UK Daily Mail, both of 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.
3. Meghan’s Half Sister, Samantha, Has Criticized Her in the Press
Markle has a half sister, Samantha, through her father’s first marriage, who has criticized her in the press, accusing Meghan of mistreating their father, UK Daily Mail reports. The half-sister, Samantha Grant, is the product of Thomas Markle’s first marriage to Roslyn Markle, and, at age 52, is considerably older than Meghan.
Samantha Grant called Meghan “narcissistic and selfish,” UK Daily Mail reports. According to The Sun, Grant is planning a tell-all book on the family. “Mum-of-three Samantha Grant, also known as Samantha Markle, is a 52-year-old former actress and model, who lives in Florida, US,” the site reports. She is in a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis, the site reports.
Grant accused Meghan of not supporting her family and being overly ambitious, supposedly changing once she found success in Hollywood. “Samantha Grant doesn’t have a relationship with Meghan Markle and she never has. As they were 17 years apart, they were never raised in the same house. Meghan was raised an only child by her loving parents,” a source told E! News in April. It is widely believed that Markle Grant is coming out of the woodwork in an effort to capitalize on her sister’s fame.
You can read more about Samantha Grant here:
4. Meghan Has a Half Brother Who Has Defended Her But Has Had His Own Troubles
Meghan also has a half brother, Thomas Markle Jr., who has defended Meghan, according to UK Daily Mail. Grant’s mother, Rosyln, also defended Meghan and told The Daily Mail that Grant once referred to Meghan’s mother as the “maid” because she was black.
Daily Mail reports that Thomas Markle Jr. remains close to Meghan even though he was arrested after he was accused of a “drunken altercation with his girlfriend.” Meghan’s half brother told Daily Mail that their father had met Prince Harry in Toronto and has given his stamp of approval on the relationship.
UK Express reported in January 2017 that “Thomas Markle Jr, 50, has been charged with menacing, pointing a firearm at someone and unlawful use of a weapon, according to police.” The site notes, “Thomas Jr is a window fitter who lives in Grants Pass with his girlfriend Darlene Blout, 36. His sons – Tyler, 27, and Thomas Dooley, 25, also live nearby.”
The ex-wife of Meghan’s half brother, Tracy Dooley, said in an interview that Thomas Jr. was “happy and proud” of Meghan, adding, “They used to be very close but there has been some separation over the years. The last thing he would want to do is hurt her.”
5. Meghan Opened Up About Her Bi-Racial Identity in a Magazine Interview
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.”
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.