If you know anything at all about Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, you know that she has a very close relationship with her daughter. Ragland was the only member of Meghan’s family at her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, famously riding alongside her daughter in the car on the way to the wedding chapel. Watching Ragland’s face during the ceremony — especially when she teared up — it was obvious how much she adores her daughter, whom she calls “Flower.”
And in interviews and essays she’s written herself, Meghan has made it clear how much she loves her mom right back.
The mother and daughter are so close in fact, that Ragland reportedly moved in with Meghan, Harry, and their toddler son, Archie, in California in the summer of 2020. But there is so much more to the woman Meghan always describes as a “free spirit” than is commonly known.
Scroll on to learn more.
Doria Ragland's not originally from California
Though Meghan Markle is totally a Cali girl through and through, it turns out that her mother Doria Ragland’s family actually has deep roots in the midwest where she was born.
According to Cleveland.com, Ragland’s grandparents (Meghan’s great-grandparents) Netty and James Arnold met in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Hotel St. Regis where Netty worked as an elevator operator and James worked as a bell hop. The couple had several children, including Ragland’s mother, Jeanette, who is Meghan’s grandmother (is everyone keeping up so far?).
Jeanette was married twice, first to Joseph Johnson, then to Ragland’s father and Meghan’s grandfather, Alvin Ragland.
But the family didn’t stay in Ohio, and shortly after Meghan’s mother was born, the family moved to Los Angeles. Apparently the sunny West Coast life agreed with the Raglands, where Alvin worked as an antiques dealer. According to The Daily Mail, Alvin was a sharp dresser known to set up shop at the trendy Melrose Trading Post market. Presumably, this is where Ragland picked up her love of antiques.
She's a social worker and yoga instructor
When Meghan Markle talks about her mother, she often notes that Doria Ragland is both a yoga instructor and a social worker. In a 2017 Glamour article where Meghan listed the women who’ve had the most influence on her life, including her mother, she said, “My mom’s a yoga instructor, but she does social work, as well, and she works specifically with the geriatric community.”
For Meghan, this is indicative of her mother’s essentially kind and generous nature. She added, “For me to watch this level of life-long sensitivity to nurturing and caregiving, but at the same time my mom has always been a free spirit.”
It’s clear that Ragland’s personality has also made her a wonderful parent. Meghan continued, “We can just have so much fun together, and yet, I’ll still find so much solace in her support. That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend.”
Ragland had to leave her job as a social worker before the royal wedding because of the massive publicity of the event. “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,” an insider told Us Weekly in 2018.
She taught Meghan to be a "foodie"
On her now defunct lifestyle blog, The Tig, Meghan Markle wrote a beautiful tribute to Doria Ragland for Mother’s Day in 2014, describing with love some personal details about her mother, including her love for food.
Meghan is a known “foodie,” which was a large part of The Tig‘s content before she had to shut the site down according to royal family rules. In the short essay, Meghan shares that it was her mother who taught her to love a well-prepared dish.
She described, “The time spent in the kitchen, helping her prep dinner, carefully tossing fresh herbs into the salad, and knowing when the shrimp in the gumbo was juuuuust right. The trips to Oaxaca, Mexico well before tourists flocked there to learn how to cook molé.”
Ragland is also a “lover of potato chips and lemon tarts,” Meghan noted, among other special traits, including her love for Al Green’s “Call Me,” and how she would care for her grandmothers in the afternoons.
She met Meghan's dad in Hollywood fashion
In true L.A. fashion, Doria Ragland met Meghan Markle’s father Thomas Markle on a TV set.
In an essay for Elle UK, Meghan wrote, “It was the late ’70s when my parents met. My dad was a lighting director for a soap opera, and my mom was a temp at the studio.” She continued, “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.”
Ragland, 12 years Markle’s junior, was working as a trainee makeup artist on the set, according to Vanity Fair and the two were married at Sunset Boulevard’s Self-Realization Fellowship, shrine of the Hindu guru Yogananda. They moved in together a few years before Meghan was born, but divorced soon after when she was just 2.
Despite this, the divorce was reportedly amicable, and Meghan grew up close to both of her parents, whom she said “crafted the world around me to make me feel like I wasn’t different but special,” in her Elle essay about growing up biracial.
Doria Ragland charmed the queen
The queen of England is not an easy woman to please (obviously), but she was apparently totally charmed by the free-spirited Doria Ragland — which is impressive. Ragland, after all, has a nose ring and the queen has a problem with bold nail polish.
Ragland was the only member of Meghan Markle’s family to attend the royal wedding, and apparently she made such a good impression on Queen Elizabeth that she invited her to spend Christmas with the family at their estate in Sandringham, per The Daily Mail.
This is especially impressive considering, as Vanity Fair notes, this makes her the first non-royal to be invited to spend Christmas at the estate in the history of the monarchy. “Kate did not go to Sandringham before she married William in 2011, and the Middletons are still not invited,” etiquette expert William Hanson told the outlet.
The queen wasn’t the only member of the royal family delighted by Ragland. According to The Times UK, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were also charmed by their new relation when they had tea ahead of the wedding festivities.
It would appear that Ragland is simply impossible to dislike.
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