Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Meet Meghan Markle's parents – everything you need to know about Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle

The Duchess of Sussex's parents are Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle

Doria Ragland now lives near the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the California
Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
Updated: April 9, 2024
Share this:

The Duchess of Sussex was born on 4 August 1981 to Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle Sr. However, Meghan's parents didn't remain together and the couple split in 1987 when Meghan was just six years old. The pair might have thought they'd enjoy quiet lives, but they made headlines around the world when their daughter and Prince Harry went public with their relationship in 2016.

Doria proved to be a pillar of strength for Meghan during her transition into becoming a member of the royal family and has supported her daughter since her and Harry's exit from the royal family. Meanwhile, since being unable to attend Meghan and Prince Harry's wedding due to undergoing heart surgery, Thomas has been out of touch with his royal daughter.

But how much do you know of Doria and Thomas? Discover all you need to below...

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 proud mum, 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.

Doria Ragland and Meghan Markle waving from a car© OLI SCARFF
Meghan and her mother Doria on her wedding day

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."

Doria Ragland with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry© WPA Pool
Doria has supported Meghan since becoming Duchess

Author Halima Sadat explored Doria's ancestry in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Engagement. She wrote: "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.

Thomas Markle Sr.

Thomas, of Dutch and Irish descent, previously 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. Thomas was expected to walk Meghan up the aisle but had to cancel after undergoing heart surgery. 

A baby lying on Thomas Markle's chest
Meghan's father Thomas is an Emmy Award-winning lighting director

Meghan released a statement at the time which read: "Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health. I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday."

Thomas Markle speaking on Good Morning Britain© ITV/Shutterstock
Thomas now has a strained relationship with his daughter

In her book, author Halima Sadat wrote 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. In the past, Meghan has described her dad as "the most hardworking father you can imagine".

How did they 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."

Meghan's relationship with her parents

Meghan is especially close to Doria, who was 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, her wedding to Harry and of course, the arrival of baby Archie. 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.

RELATED: Meet Trevor Engelson – All about Meghan Markle's ex-husband

RELATED: Doria Ragland's adorable moment pushing Prince Archie in toy car is so special - watch

Meghan and Thomas now have a strained relationship and he is yet to meet Harry or his two grandchildren, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. The father and daughter's relationship soured after it emerged that Thomas had staged paparazzi photos in the run-up to Meghan's wedding to Harry. In 2022, the former lighting director was hospitalised following a stroke.

Like this story? Sign up to The Royal Life newsletter to get your weekly dose of royal lifestyle inspiration, from the must-see fashion moments to sneak peeks into royal homes and wellness news.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Royalty

See more