Does Doria Ragland, the mother of the former Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, have siblings? Who were her parents? Are they alive? Many people are asking those questions after Ragland, 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. The official wedding photograph released by Kensington Palace underscored the dearth of family members on Meghan’s side; Prince William stood next to Doria Ragland to make the absence less glaring.
Doria Ragland does have three half siblings, but both of her parents are deceased. Doria has a living step-grandmother who is about her same age (she is pictured at the top of this article along with her son, Doria’s half brother). Meghan is an only child of her parents (although she also has half siblings through her father’s side of the family), which may partly explain the lack of relatives at the wedding. Of course, the fact that some members of Meghan’s dad’s side of the family have trashed her in the press almost surely contributed to the lack of invites. Only one of Doria’s three half-siblings appears to have spoken to the media about Meghan, though. He made positive remarks about her.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Doria’s Dad Was an Antiques Dealer Who Died After Tripping on a Dog Leash
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. Alvin Ragland Married Twice & Doria Has Three Half Siblings
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.
3. Doria’s Half Brother Alvin Joffrey Ragland Works as a Designer in Los Angeles & His Mother Brought Up Downton Abbey When Asked About Meghan
Doria Ragland’s much younger half-brother Alvin Joffrey Ragland is the son of Ava Burrow and Alvin Ezell Ragland, according to Daily Mail.
Burrow is one of Doria’s few friends on Facebook.
“When a reporter broke the news of the impending nuptials to Ava Burrow, Meghan’s lovely step-grandmother, she exclaimed: ‘Meghan marrying a prince? Who’d have thunk! I guess it’s like your Downton Abbey – and we’re the folks downstairs,'” Sydney Morning-Herald reported.
According to The Sun, Alvin Ragland, 34, “is the younger brother of her mother Doria and is actually younger than Meghan. He works as a graphic designer in Los Angeles.” The site adds that “none of Meghan’s grandparents are still alive, her Markle grandmother Doris and grandfather on the other side Alvin both died in 2011.”
Ava Burrow is “still close to Doria, who is the same age as her stepmother,” reported Macleans.
Alvin Joffrey Ragland appears to have a very successful career as a graphic designer in California, according to his LinkedIn page. He works as a lead designer at a hybrid apparel company, the page says.
He has not given interviews about Meghan.
4. 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.
5. Meghan Markle Is Likely Descended From Slaves
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.