Royal role model! Before starting a family of her own, Meghan Markle had her mother, Doria Ragland, to turn to for inspiration on a daily basis.
Ragland was married to Thomas Markle from 1979 to 1987, but despite the split, Meghan remained close to both of her parents while growing up. “I was too young at the time to know what it was like for my parents, but I can tell you what it was like for me,” she wrote in an Elle essay published in 2015, reflecting on her biracial identity. “How they crafted the world around me to make me feel like I wasn’t different but special.”
When Meghan rose to stardom on Suits in the 2010s, her mom remained one of her fiercest supporters — and was the only family member by Meghan’s side at her May 2018 wedding to Prince Harry in England. (Thomas declared days before the ceremony that he would no longer be attending after suffering a heart attack and staging paparazzi photos of himself.)
The royal family made an effort to welcome Doria with open arms, with the yoga instructor securing an invitation for tea with Queen Elizabeth II and the late Prince Philip at Windsor Castle ahead of the Sussexes’ nuptials. One year later, Doria returned to the royal residence to witness the baptism of her grandson, Archie, and posed beside several senior members of her son-in-law’s family.
Harry and Meghan sent shockwaves throughout the palace in January 2020 when they announced their plans to step down from their senior duties. Two months later, they moved stateside, happy to close the distance between the Northwestern University grad and her mother.
“Meghan has been seeing her mom while in L.A.,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively in May 2020, shortly before the royal couple settled down in the quieter Montecito neighborhood in Santa Barbara, California.
Through all of her ups and downs — including her 2020 miscarriage — Meghan turned to Doria for guidance. After welcoming their second child, daughter Lilibet “Lili” Diana, in June 2021, the Archewell cofounders felt lucky to have an experienced caretaker nearby.
“They’ve had lots of lovely gifts sent from friends and family members including Doria, but the most special thing she’s provided is her time,” an insider told Us of the couple after Meghan gave birth. “She’s been helping out at the house and her hands-on support is a major bonus.”
“Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Yoga instructor. Social worker. Free spirit. Lover of potato chips & lemon tarts,” Meghan wrote while painting a candid picture of her mom in a 2014 post on her now-defunct blog, The Tig. “And if the DJ cues Al Green’s soul classic ‘Call Me,’ just forget it. She will swivel her hips into the sweetest little dance you’ve ever seen, swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat like she’s been dancing since the womb. And you will smile. You won’t be able to help it. You will look at her and you will feel joy. I’m talking about my mom.”
Meghan reflected on her mixed-race identity in a powerful 2015 Elle essay, writing, “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.” While growing up in California, Meghan remembered “being asked where my mother was since they assumed [Doria] was the nanny” and feeling “heartache” the first time she heard someone hurl a racial slur at her mom. “I wanted us to be safe,” the duchess wrote.
In an archived post on The Tig, Meghan revealed the sweet nickname she got from her mom. “Yes, she calls me, ‘Flower,’” the Los Angeles native wrote in October 2016. She would go on to honor Doria by naming her and Harry’s daughter Lili, a nod to flowers.
“My mom’s a yoga instructor, but she does social work, as well, and she works specifically with the geriatric community. 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,” Meghan wrote in a tribute to her mom, naming her as one of 10 women who changed her life in August 2017. “She’s got dreadlocks and a nose ring. She just ran the L.A. Marathon. 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.”
The Wedding Day
Meghan’s dad did not attend her May 2018 wedding to Harry, but Doria was by her side through every moment on the big day.
While visiting her daughter and son-in-law across the pond in the summer of 2019, Doria allegedly warned Meghan about the strict royal family rules. “You’re stuck in here,” the fitness instructor told the former Deal or No Deal star after they were reportedly not allowed to leave Frogmore Cottage for a coffee run, according to Finding Freedom author Omid Scobie.
Doria attended grandson Archie’s christening at Windsor Castle’s private chapel in July 2019, two months after he was born. She stood beside Prince Charles and other royals in a historic family photo.
After stepping down from their senior duties in March 2020, Harry and Meghan relocated to California, briefly staying in Los Angeles before settling down in Montecito. “They’re converting one of the guesthouses into a home for Doria, who plans to split her time between L.A. and Montecito,” a source told Us in August 2020.
Meghan revealed in November 2020 that she suffered a miscarriage several months prior — and she was grateful to have her mom close by. “She’s guiding Harry and Meghan — helping them heal and come to terms with their painful loss,” a source told Us of Doria.
Though she claimed she “lost” her relationship with her father after joining the royal family, Meghan praised her mom’s “silent dignity” through the toughest moments while speaking with CBS in March 2021. “I did everything I could to protect [my parents] in that media frenzy, but for over a year, the UK tabloids were trying to find my dad, offering people so much money to try and find his address. … Everyone has accountability,” Meghan said at the time. “Look, they hunted my mom down, and you’ve never heard her say a word.”
After daughter Lili arrived in June 2021, having Doria around to keep them company was “the most special thing” for the couple. “She’s been helping out at the house and her hands-on support is a major bonus,” a source said at the time. “Meghan’s so grateful to have her mom to lean on, and Harry just adores her.”
The NAACP Image Awards
Doria joined Meghan and Harry at the 53rd annual NAACP Image Awards in February 2022. During the couple’s acceptance speech for the President’s Award, the former actress gave a shout-out to her mother, noting: “My mom’s here with us tonight, and we all feel very proud.”
Ragland broke her silence on the drama between Meghan and her father during an episode of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan, which premiered in December 2022. “I felt sad that the media would run with this. That he would capitalize,” she told the cameras of Thomas’ 2018 photo scandal. “Certainly, as a parent — that’s not what you do. That’s not parenting.”
Meghan’s mom asserted in the docuseries that she was finally “ready” to have her “voice heard” after a “challenging” few years in the public eye. She recalled meeting Harry for the first time, praising his “really great manners.”
“They looked really happy together,” she added of the now-married couple. “Once it was announced that they were together, it seemed kind of like a novelty.”