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

The Mail on Sunday - - Picture Exclusive - From Caro­line Gra­ham and Hugo Daniel IN LOS AN­GE­LES

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

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