Meghan Markle’s father discusses his split from Doria Ragland
Meghan is very close to her mother, and LA-based Ms Ragland is said to have been one of the main reasons the Sussexes settled back in California in their post-royal life. Ms Ragland was the only member of Meghan’s immediate family to attend her wedding to Prince Harry, and reportedly even considered moving to the UK to be nearer to her only daughter at one stage. She has stayed away from the public eye and never spoken to the media about her world-famous daughter.
However, biographer Sean Smith has shone a light on the private figure, and claimed Ms Ragland had a particularly tough time after Meghan was born in 1981.
Writing in his book, ‘Meghan Misunderstood’, Mr Smith said Ms Ragland — then married to Meghan’s father Thomas Markle — was also living with her husband’s two teenage children from his previous marriage.
Mr Smith explained: “She had to cope with not only looking after a small baby but also maintaining the peace in such a fractious household.”
Additionally, Ms Ragland had a personal struggle due to the location of their family home.
Mr Smith said: “Woodland Hills was a pleasant, middle-class, predominantly white neighbourhood in the Valley, as it was called.”
Doria Ragland, Meghan Markle’s mother
Meghan has previously called her mother her ‘best friend’
Meghan once described the area as “leafy and affordable”, but noted: “What it was not, however, was diverse.”
She continued: “And there was my mum, caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny.”
Mr Smith continued: “While they [Thomas and Ragland] have never publicly acknowledged how difficult it was for them being an interracial couple in Woodland Hills back then, it’s easy to imagine it was a constant battle.
“Meghan herself has said that she was too young to understand that they were living with institutional prejudice.”
Ms Ragland ended up moving into her mother Jeanette’s house with Meghan, as her marriage started to strain.
She later relocated to a safe neighbourhood in midtown LA, and had joint custody of her daughter with her ex-husband.
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Meghan has credited her mother with opening her eyes to social injustices around the world
However, she continued to raise Meghan as a conscious citizen, and the Duchess has praised her mother for opening her eyes to the social injustices of the world.
She was taken to see the slum areas of Jamaica by Ms Ragland and to Oaxaca City in southern Mexico, where children were trying to sell sweets to earn an income.
Her mother said to her: “Don’t look scared, Flower. Be aware but don’t be afraid.”
Recalling the incident for an essay in Elle, she claimed: “My mum raised me to be a global citizen with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities.”
Meghan and her mother were also in LA during the five days of rioting and violence that erupted in 1992.
Describing the incident last year, she said: “I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.
“And I remember pulling up at the house and seeing the tree that had always been there, completely charred.
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Doria visiting the UK to see Meghan and Harry
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“And those memories don’t go away.”
Black motorist Rodney King had been beaten by police officers the previous year, and there was public outrage after a predominantly white jury found them not guilty.
The Duchess of Sussex later recalled how she was present when her mother was called the n-word to her face in LA.
According to Mr Smith, this memory “has never left Meghan” either.
Her mother reportedly welled up with “hateful tears” at the time.
Explaining the incident for Elle, Meghan said: “I shared my mum’s heartache but I wanted us to be safe.
Meghan addressing her alma mater about the BLM protests last year
“We drove home in deafening silence, her chocolate knuckles pale from gripping the wheel so tightly.”
The Duchess of Sussex has always been proud of her heritage, and was credited with bringing the Royal Family into the modern era when she was the first biracial spouse to marry into the ancient institution.
Meghan also spoke out about the Black Lives Matter protests last year, after the death of a black man called George Floyd sparked international backlash.
In an address to the graduates of her alma mater, Meghan acknowledged the growing racial tensions in the US and remarked: “I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”
She later dubbed the BLM movement “a beautiful thing” and called for an end to structural racism in October at the beginning of Black History Month with Prince Harry.
‘Meghan Misunderstood’ by Sean Smith was published by HarperCollins in 2020 and is available here.