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Prince Harry's first meeting with mother-in-law Doria marked 'the end of the beginning'

The Duke of Sussex described the dinner with Meghan Markle's mother as "nerve-wracking"

Prince Harry in a grey blazer and Doria Ragland in a cream outfit
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
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Prince Harry admitted that his first meeting with Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland marked "the end of the beginning" in his bombshell book Spare, which was released in 2023.

While discussing avoiding the media interest in his early relationship with Meghan, the Duke of Sussex reflected on the "nerve-wracking" dinner he had to celebrate Doria's 60th birthday. Just months after meeting at Soho House at 76 Dean Street for their first date in the summer of 2016, the couple returned there with Doria, who had flown in to spend time with the couple. 

Doria and Meghan with Prince Harry© Getty
The Prince described his first meeting with Doria as "nerve-wracking"

"We were celebrating Doria, celebrating being together, and doing it all at our favorite place," Harry wrote, before adding he felt added pressure to make sure the meeting went well considering the negative press about his relationship. I’d been quite nervous about that dinner. It’s always nerve-racking to meet a girlfriend’s mother, but especially when you’re currently making her daughter’s life hell."

Despite insisting the dinner was "wonderful", the Duke explained: "I look back on it now as the end of the beginning. The next day, the pap photos appeared, and there was a new flood of stories, a new surge along the many channels of social media. Racism, misogyny, criminal stupidity – it all increased."

Luckily, Doria had avoided being pictured leaving the dinner, but Harry's concern for his then-girlfriend increased after the paparazzi began to interfere with her work and her potential safety.

WATCH: Doria Ragland's rare comments about meeting Harry for first time

He claimed his father King Charles, whom he affectionately nicknamed "pa", simply told him to ignore the press intrusion, but he insisted in his book: "'It’s not that simple', I said angrily. 'I might lose this woman. She might either decide I’m not worth the bother, or the press might so poison the public that some idiot might do something bad, harm her in some way.'"

Doria also recalled her first impressions of Harry in a very rare interview as part of the couple's Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan. Discussing their meeting, which we can now assume was at this Soho dinner, Doria said: "He was 6’1, a handsome man with red hair, really great manners. He was just really nice. And they looked really happy together. Yeah, like he was the one."

TOPSHOT - Meghan Markle (R) and her mother, Doria Ragland, arrive for her wedding ceremony to marry Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)© OLI SCARFF
Meghan and Harry got married in 2018 following two years of dating

The yoga instructor also revealed how she first learnt of her daughter's secret relationship with the royal. Reminiscing about their phone conversation, Doria said Meghan whispered: "Mommy, I'm going out with Prince Harry." She continued: "I started whispering [and said] 'Oh my god!'"

The Duke and his mother-in-law have continued to develop a close bond following his wedding to Meghan in 2018. Harry and Meghan have chosen to share some special moments with Doria – including involving her in their first wedding anniversary celebrations in 2019.

Doria Ragland now lives near the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the California © Kevin Mazur
Doria Ragland now lives near the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the California

In Finding Freedom, co-authors Omid and Carolyn Durandit wrote: "On the anniversary of their first year of marriage, Harry and Meghan enjoyed a traditional Sunday lunch with Doria, her last meal before travelling back to LA."

After stepping back as senior members of the royal family and relocating to the United States in 2020, they are geographically much closer to each other, too. Doria's Los Angeles home is very close to the Montecito house the couple share with their two children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

DISCOVER: Bedridden Queen Camilla, Meghan Markle's 'chill' breakfast & more private royal wedding mornings

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