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The long-awaited Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, just dropped its first three episodes on Dec. 8, and people are seriously freaking out about all the royal dirt it reveals.
Of course, while the trailer shows lots of intense moments and tears, the doc also promises a behind-the-scenes look at the couple's experiences, and their decision to step away from their roles as working royals. Since making that change, Harry and Meghan have kept their personal lives, and those of their two kids Archie and Lili, very private.
Given that there will likely be lots of commentary and drama surrounding Harry’s royal family in the series, it’s understandable to have questions about Meghan’s parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, too.
Her parents were thrust into the spotlight after Meghan and Harry got engaged in 2017, but you may have missed some of the details at the time. Plus, if you're cued in to royal news, you'll notice that Meghan's dad has been notably absent at major events, while her mom, Doria, has been smiling and waving by Meghan's side.
So, here’s everything you need to know about Meghan Markle’s parents—and her relationship with both of them.
Who is Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria?
Doria Ragland was born in 1956 in Cleveland, Ohio, but her family later moved to Los Angeles, per Cleveland.com. After meeting Thomas Markle Sr., a lighting director, on a soap opera set where they both worked, the couple tied the knot in 1979, Us Weekly reported. Doria gave birth to Meghan in Los Angeles in 1981, per Cleveland.com.
Doria previously worked as a social worker at a mental health clinic and also spent time as a yoga instructor. But a source told Us Weekly that she left her social worker gig in 2018 when Meghan and Harry got married. The source said that Doria “has talked about starting her own private practice, focusing on working with elderly patients,” but it’s unclear if she’s doing that now.
In 2020, Doria started teaching a jewelry making class at Santa Monica College, per Us Weekly.
Who is Meghan’s father?
Thomas Markle Sr. worked as a lighting director on a slew of shows, including Married With Children, The Facts of Life, and General Hospital, per IMDB. He received a nomination in 1986 for an Emmy for Outstanding Lighting Direction and actually ~won~ a daytime Emmy in 2011 for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Drama Series for General Hospital.
Meghan and Thomas’ relationship has been very fraught in the media, with Thomas doing things like reportedly staging photos with the paparazzi and repeatedly speaking out about his daughter.
“My thing about my daughter right now is that I think she is terrified. I see it in her eyes, I see it in her face and I see it in her smile,” he told The Sun in 2018. “I’ve seen her smile for years. I know her smile. I don’t like the one I’m seeing now. This one isn’t even a stage smile—this is a pained smile.”
Doria and Thomas split when Meghan was two years old.
Meghan told Elle in 2015 that Thomas and Doria divorced when Meghan was still quite young.
She shared more of her memories with the outlet, saying, "I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques. Whatever it was, they married and had me."
Meghan then told Elle that Thomas grew up "in a homogeneous community in Pennsylvania, [where] the concept of marrying an African-American woman was not on the cards for my dad. But he saw beyond what was put in front of him in that small-sized (and, perhaps, small-minded) town."
After Thomas and Doria divorced in 1983, Meghan and Doria moved into an apartment in Los Angeles, according to Hello magazine. The outlet says that Meghan split time between that apartment and her dad’s apartment on Hollywood’s famous Sunset Strip until she went to college in 1999.
King Charles walked Meghan down the aisle instead of her dad.
Thomas claims he was supposed to do the ceremonial walk down the aisle with his daughter at her 2018 nuptials, but he told TMZ that he was having heart surgery around the same time because he had suffered a heart attack. (Worth noting: The Daily Mail says he faked the surgery to try to get sympathy after he staged paparazzi photos.)
The royals made a quick announcement about the change-up on Twitter.
Harry blames himself for Meghan's strained relationship with her dad.
In episode three of the docuseries, Prince Harry says he has "shouldered" responsibility for Meghan's estranged relationship with her father, per People. He says that "it's incredibly sad" how his wife and father-in-law are no longer on good terms.
"Of course, it's incredibly sad what happened. She had a father before this and now she doesn't have a father," he says. "And I shouldered that because if Meg wasn't with me, then her dad would still be her dad."
Meghan says she was encouraged to call Thomas to find out if he was colluding with paparazzi for a story.
"H and I called my dad. I said, 'Look, they're saying you're taking money from the tabloids to stage photos. Is this true?' He says no," she says, adding that they offered to have someone come and get him from Mexico before media could swarm his home as a result of the story that would come out.
"And he said, 'No, no, I have things I need to do.' And it felt really cagey," Meghan added. "I was like, 'It doesn't make sense.' And when we hung up, I looked at H. I was like, 'I don't know why, but I don't believe him.'"
Meghan has an older half-sister and half-brother.
Thomas Sr. fathered two other children, and Meghan lived with her half-sister, Samantha Markle, who is 16 years older, and half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., until her parents split up, according to Us Weekly. Neither half-sibling was invited to the royal wedding, but that kinda makes sense given Meghan's relationship with them.
Things are pretty rocky between the sisters. Samantha likes to talk to the press a lot about Meghan, and even criticized her for her response to their dad's staged photo scandal. Oh, and then she published a memoir in 2021 titled "The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister (Part 1)." Yikes.
Apparently, there's also no love lost between Meghan and Thomas Jr., either. He wrote a letter to Harry in 2018 urging him to call off the wedding and calling Meghan all sorts of terrible names. But later, on Australia's Big Brother VIP, Thomas Jr. expressed regret for his actions and wrote a note to the couple, which he read aloud, per Us Weekly.
“Dear Meghan and Harry, the first thing I want to say to both of you is that I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for the awful, mean letter that I wrote to you prior to your wedding,” Thomas said, according to Page Six.
Doria has been at Meghan's side through it all.
From the wedding ceremony to the birth of her two grandchildren, Meghan's mom has been the one to see her through.
When Meghan had her son Archie back in May of 2019, Doria flew into London ahead of the birth, per Entertainment Tonight. A sweet royal announcement after Archie’s birth said that Doria was “overjoyed” at Archie’s birth and that she would be residing with Meghan and Harry at their former residence, Frogmore Castle.
And, after the couple’s daughter Lilibet was born in 2021, a source told Us that Meghan is “so grateful to have her mom to lean on, and Harry just adores her."
Doria spends lots of time with Meghan and the kids in California.
A source told Us in 2019 that Doria “been a big help with the baby and the life adjustment,” after Archie was born. She also traveled to Vancouver Island, Canada to celebrate with Harry and Meghan when they took a holiday hiatus in December 2019, Us reported.
Meanwhile, Thomas Sr. has said he hasn’t met his grandchildren.
In fact, in 2021, he told Good Morning Britain, per The Sun, that he might sue Harry and Meghan to see his grandkids. He also said that it was “childish” of Harry and Meghan to keep him from his grandkids.
“People have suggested in California I could sue to see my grandkids,” he said. “But I think if I did that I’d be doing the same thing Meghan and Harry are doing.”
Catch up on all things Harry and Meghan tomorrow when the first three episodes in the docuseries drop on Netflix.
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