Meghan Markle has taken steps to ensure Doria Ragland plays an important part in her wedding to Prince Harry.
From swapping the traditional fruit wedding cake in favour of an “unconventional” organic lemon elderflower number, to requesting all wedding gifts be made in the form of a donation to a selection of charities, it’s become increasingly apparent over recent weeks that the Suits actress and her groom-to-be are intent on doing things their way.
Not only do their royal wedding invitations break tradition by acknowledging Markle’s “Ms” status, but they have also decided against inviting any political leaders to the event. Instead, only personal friends of the couple will be inside Windsor Castle for the event on 19 May – along with 1,200 members of the public, young and old, who have shown examples of strong leadership, or particularly served their communities.
And, as Markle has always said that her mother is her “best friend”, it comes as little surprise to learn that the bride-to-be has dismissed years of tired old tradition and asked Doria Ragland to play an important part in her wedding, too.
Ragland met Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, a cinematographer 12 years her senior, when she was just 20. After they split, Ragland brought up her daughter as a single mother.
And Kensington Palace recently released new information about the royal wedding, revealing that Ragland – along with Markle’s father – will be arriving in the UK in the week of the wedding, so that she can spend time with Prince Harry’s family, including Queen Elizabeth II, ahead of the event.
Speaking at a press briefing, Jason Knauf, Prince Harry’s communications secretary, explained: “The first thing I would like to share is that Prince Harry and Ms Markle are very much looking forward to welcoming Ms Markle’s parents to Windsor for the wedding.
“Mr Thomas Markle and Ms Doria Ragland will be arriving in the UK in the week of the wedding, allowing time for Prince Harry’s family, including The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to spend time with them before the big day.”
Knauf added that “it’s very important to [Markle] that both her parents have a special role in the day”.
He went on to explain that Ragland will, on the morning of the wedding itself, ride in a car with her daughter from her overnight accommodation to Windsor Castle.
The decision breaks with UK tradition, which usually sees the bride travel with her father before he gives her away in the wedding ceremony.
And, as members of the public will get to see the car as it makes its way to the chapel, it offers a beautiful opportunity for Markle to honour her mother before the world – which we assume is no small deal for the actress, as, growing up, many wrongly opined that Markle’s African-American mother could not possibly be biologically related to her.
Writing for Elle magazine, Markle recalled: “It was the late Seventies when my parents met, my dad was a lighting director for a soap opera and my mom was a temp at the studio. 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.
“They moved into a house in The Valley in LA, to a neighbourhood that was leafy and affordable. What it was not, however, was diverse. And there was my mom, caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny.”
She continued: “I was home in LA on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver.”
Markle added: “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.
“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
Of course, the car journey will also allow Markle to share a few special, private moments with Ragland – whom she has proudly described as the most important woman in her life.
“My mom’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 lifelong sensitivity to nurturing and caregiving, but at the same time my mom has always been a free spirit,” Markle said of her mum in an August 2017 article for Glamour.
She added: “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.”