Look that hooked Meghan's dad
As Harry’s girl said of her parents who may soon be his in-laws... ... and here, for the f irst time, are the charming school photos showing just what Meghan meant
FRESH-FACED and full of hope for the future, she could, surely, never in her wildest dreams have imagined that her daughter would one day grow up and fall in love with a prince.
This is Meghan Markle’s mother as a teenager with captivating looks, seen in an enchanting photo published for the first time here today.
Doria Ragland was just 16 and an outstanding pupil at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles when these pictures were taken for the school yearbook in 1972. Her life then revolved around her studies, listening to Marvin Gaye and funfilled nights at a local Mexican taco joint with friends.
But just seven years later, Doria would fall head over heels in love with Thomas Markle, a handsome Hollywood lighting director 12 years her senior. Meghan has pre- viously said of their romance: ‘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.’
The pair married in 1979. And two years later their beloved only daughter Meghan was born.
If speculation proves to be correct, Meghan may soon be engaged to Prince Harry, her boyfriend of the past 18 months.
Harry has already met Doria, most notably at t he Invictus Games in Toronto in September. For friends of Doria, who remember her as a ‘whip smart’ member of the school’s Apex Club – a class for exceptionally bright pupils – the notion that the young girl who loved flares and fashion is now mingling with the Royals is a modern-day fairytale.
‘Doria, who was nicknamed Dodi at school, was a beautiful girl, inside and out,’ recalls Jennifer Caldwell, 61, a retired pharmaceutical company executive. ‘She had this beautiful afro hairstyle she was so proud of and she was always into fashion.
‘She was always smiling, whip smart and sociable. After she passed her driving test she would borrow her mother’s car and we’d go to places like Tico’s, a cheap t aco pl ace which had l ong queues. We didn’t have much money but we had fun.’
Doria’s father Alvin ran an antiques shop and her mother was a nurse. The modest fam-
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
ily home was in a black middleclass area of Los Angeles. ‘It was a different era, we were innocent,’ Ms Caldwell recalls. ‘We listened to a lot of Marvin Gaye records, we had boyfriends but we would never dream of having sex with them. It wasn’t like that. ‘It was a political time. Nixon had just been voted in as President, but Dodi and I were more i nto s t udies. That’s what I remember most. Working hard and getting an education was what our parents, especially our mothers, focused on. They hadn’t had that freedom.’
After leaving school, Doria, now 60, worked as an air stewardess, then as a make-up artist, which is how she met Tom Markle.
The 6ft 4in bear of a man was already a success in Hollywood, working as a lighting director on hit US television shows.
Now 73, retired and living in Mexico, he is also seen on these pages for the first time. The pic- ture is from his 1962 yearbook, when he was aged 18, at Newport High School in the working-class town of Newport, Pennsylvania.
He was heavily i nvolved in school plays and is listed as a member of the drama club, choir and journalism club. In the caption next to his photo, he lists his interests as ‘old cars, hunting and reading’, before adding the catchphrase: ‘The show must go on!’
Suits star Meghan credits her ‘remarkable’ parents for her suc- cess in life. She has talked about growing up in a biracial family and embracing her heritage.
Though they divorced in 1987, when Meghan was just six, Tom and Doria remained friends.
Meghan calls her mother, who went back to university as a mature student and earned a master’s degree in social work, ‘her inspiration’. On Mother’s Day last year she posted a picture of Doria on Instagram, writing: ‘Always proud of this beautiful woman.’
SCHOOL DAYS: Doria Ragland in her yearbook photo, aged 16. Above: Aged 18, Tom Markle, the man she would later marry and with whom she would have Meghan, right
ROYAL DATE: Doria with Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games. Right: Tom Markle with Meghan, then aged 11
‘WHIP SMART’: Doria with school friends from the Apex Club, a class for exceptionally bright pupils