Getting along famously: Harry shares an animated conversation with the woman who could be his mother-in-law
Harry gets on famously with the OTHER woman he has to win over! Prince shows his affection towards Meghan’s mother – the yoga mum who gave her daughter her hippy, freewheeling streak
When a young man seems to be getting along famously with his prospective mother-in-law, it is said, it’s a sign that things are getting mighty serious.
It certainly seemed that way at the weekend, when Prince Harry was captured deep in conversation with Doria Ragland, the mum of his girlfriend (and, some say, soon-to-be fiancee) Meghan Markle.
Looking much younger than her 60 years, and enviably trim, in a lilac chiffon top and jeans, with her hair stylishly braided, Miss Ragland had made the five-hour flight from her home in Los Angeles to Toronto, to join the couple at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.
Harry was evidently delighted to see her, and from their smiles it was clear that the pair already get along famously.
They appear to be on such good terms that, at one point, she cupped her hand over her mouth conspiratorially as she whispered something to him.
Royal watchers eagerly awaiting the announcement of an engagement should regard this public show of affection as a highly significant development.
For, as I discovered when researching Meghan’s life-story recently, no one is closer to the 36-year-old actress than her mother – who calls her ‘Flower’ – and it would be essential for a future husband to get along with Miss Ragland and command her respect.
So what do we know of this enigmatically private woman, whose childhood was spent, if not exactly in the ghetto (as some have claimed) then certainly in some of the tougher neighbourhoods of Los Angeles, yet could soon be joining the uppermost echelons of the British establishment?
Like many black Americans, her distant ancestors were slaves. Put to work in the Deep South plantations, her great-great-great-great grandfather was freed after the Abolition in 1865. When he was permitted to choose a new name to mark his emancipation he called himself Wisdom.
Her forebears then strove to improve their station, such that Miss Ragland’s father, Alvin, became a prosperous antiques dealer. A larger-than-life character with a fondness for fancy cars and pretty women, his fortunes fluctuated, but at one time he ran a string of shops in Los Angeles.
It is believed he had two daughters, but if so Meghan’s maternal aunt has not yet been traced.
Doria Ragland was just 20 years old, and temping in a TV studio, when she caught the eye of Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, who was one of Hollywood’s most respected cinematographers.
He was a 32-year-old divorcee with two children, and by all accounts a workaholic. Even so, they were married in 1979, and Meghan was born two years later.
Meghan has described her childhood as happy and settled, and in material terms the family certainly wanted for nothing.
Since her father’s job was handsomely rewarded, she and her older half-siblings, Samantha and Thomas Junior, lived in a beautiful sea-front house before moving to an affluent small town in The Valley area of Los Angeles, where their neighbours included one of Bing Crosby’s twin sons.
Her half-brother recalls how Thomas and Doria ‘doted’ on Meghan, who was not only inordinately pretty (with her mother’s eyes, and her father’s distinctive retrousse nose) but academically clever, and a natural on stage.
However, he says, Samantha envied the attention lavished on her half-sister, and tensions arose. It was exacerbated by Thomas senior’s long working hours, and in 1986, when Meghan was a few months short of her sixth birthday, her parents divorced.
Though they were awarded shared legal custody of Meghan, her life changed markedly thereafter. To supplement the $900 (£670) maintenance she was awarded each month, Doria Ragland took various jobs – at one time working as an air-stewardess, according to one of my sources, which means she will have at least something in common with the Duchess of Cambridge’s mother, Carole Middleton, should she also become a royal relation.
As Doria was frequently away from home, the teenage Meghan spent much of her with time with her father, in a tenement block in a rather seedy area of Hollywood. However, her bond with her mother never wavered. Indeed, Doria used to drive a car with the personalised number plate MEGNME.
Today, Meghan regards her mother as her mentor, and friends say it is she who gives the Suits actress her free- wheeling, hippy streak, and her strong social conscience. When Meghan was a young girl, for example, she took her to the poorest parts of Jamaica so that she could experience their culture first-hand.
By the same token, her mother was fairly strict and made sure she dressed demurely in her teens. When boys became over-attentive, Miss Ragland would take her aside and deliver a blunt message to her budding young ‘Flower’. ‘Honey, remember – never give the milk away for free.’
A few years ago, Meghan’s mother was struggling to make ends meet, with her credit cards seriously overdrawn. She then filed for bankruptcy, declaring debts of $42,900 against assets of just over $17,000.
Admirably, however, she reinvented herself as a yoga therapist, working for a respected Los Angeles charity, specialising in helping people who had suffered brain injuries. She now lives in a desirable part of the city, in a bijou cottage, painted pea-green and fringed by palm plants.
When I called on her there recently, she was just returning from an evening walk with her two dogs. ‘I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t comment,’ she said politely, when I asked her about her daughter’s romance.
She and Meghan’s father (who has retired to a seaside resort in Mexico) seldom communicate these days, but family members assure me there would be no discernible friction, should they be reunited for a wedding service.
Judging from the way Harry charmed Meghan’s mum this weekend, that day might be closer than we think.
Source: DailyMail Mailonline
Tags: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding, British Royals, Wedding, Engagement