Meghan Markle has a strong network of loved ones she can count on in the lead-up to her royal wedding. She'll be leaning on her mother Doria Ragland during the final weeks of preparation, while her father Thomas Markle, who lives in Mexico, is expected to fly to the UK soon for the nuptials. Get to know Meghan's parents ahead of their appearance at the wedding of the year…
Who is Doria Ragland?
In her revealing post-engagement interview with Prince Harry, Meghan opened up about her mum Doria, saying she is "so much fun". Harry seconded his future wife's opinion, adding that Doria is "amazing". The mother-of-the-bride, who lives in LA, has largely kept out of the spotlight, quietly working as a yoga instructor and psychotherapist. Doria graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's degree in social work.
Meghan's mum Doria works as a yoga instructor and psychotherapist
Meghan has previously said of her mum: "My mum'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 mum has always been a free spirit. She's got dreadlocks and a nose ring. She just ran the LA 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."
Author Halima Sadat explores Doria's ancestry in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Engagement. She writes: "Like many African Americans, Doria can trace her lineage back to the days of slave labour in the Deep South states of Georgia and Tennessee, in particular the area around Chattanooga." Meghan's great-grandmother, Netty Allen, lived in a humble wooden shack and grew up during a time of racial segregation and discrimination. The Allens eventually migrated north to Ohio, and it was there that Doria was born, before she moved to California in the sixties.
Meghan's father Thomas is an Emmy Award-winning lighting director
Who is Thomas Markle Sr.?
Thomas, of Dutch and Irish descent, worked as an Emmy Award-winning lighting director. The family lived comfortably in the leafy suburb of Woodland Hills, an area popular with the stars, until Thomas and Doria divorced. The father-of-the-bride currently resides in Mexico and has been spotted brushing up on his knowledge of the UK ahead of the royal wedding. Thomas, who shies away from the limelight, is expected to walk Meghan up the aisle.
In her book, author Halima Sadat writes that Meghan's father's ancestors were coal miners, who most likely moved to the US from Yorkshire in 1859. Seeking a new life and fortune, the family settled in the mining town of Mahanoy in Pennsylvania, where Thomas was born. As he grew up, Thomas wanted to learn a trade away from the mines and he eventually became a film lighting engineer and set builder. He was soon drawn to the starry lights of Hollywood and built a successful career for himself, earning an Outstanding Achievement in Design Excellence Emmy for his work on TV shows, General Hospital and Married with Children. Meghan has since described her dad as "the most hardworking father you can imagine".
Meghan and Harry will tie the knot on 19 May
How did Meghan's parents meet?
Doria and Thomas met in California, after Thomas had divorced his first wife Roslyn, with whom he has a son, Thomas Junior, and a daughter, Samantha. "Doria was working as a temp at the television studios where Thomas was the lighting director for a popular soap opera," Halima writes. "They fell in love and were married in 1979, with Meghan being born two years later." The couple divorced when Meghan was six.
Is Meghan close to both of her parents?
Meghan is close to both of her parents and has frequently spoken about the love and support they have given her. Her mum has been at her side at some of her most important appearances, including the Invictus Games, where she made her first high-profile outing with Prince Harry. Doria knew about Meghan's engagement weeks before it broke, and on the day of the announcement, in her typical carefree way, she was pictured watering her plants at home as the world reacted.
There have been reports that Meghan wants her mum to walk her down the aisle, but her father Thomas will likely be in attendance too at the royal wedding. The Emmy-winner lives in Mexico, but will fly to the UK to support his little girl. With just a few weeks to go until the wedding, Thomas and Prince Harry are believed to have met; in her first joint BBC interview with Harry in November 2017, Meghan admitted: "He's talked to my dad a few times; hasn't been able to meet him just yet."