Meghan Markle will be drawing up her guest list as she prepares for her royal wedding to Prince Harry in May. The actress will be counting on her mother Doria Ragland in the lead-up and on the big day, while her father Thomas Markle, who lives in Mexico, is expected to fly to the UK for the nuptials. Get to know Meghan's parents ahead of their appearance at the wedding of the year…
Where did Meghan grow up?
Meghan was born and grew up in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Thomas W. Markle and Doria Ragland. Thomas, of Dutch and Irish descent, worked as an Emmy Award-winning lighting director while Doria, who Meghan has described as "free-spirited" and "so much fun", is a yoga teacher and psychotherapist. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's degree in social work. The family lived comfortably in the leafy suburb of Woodland Hills, an area popular with the stars.
Who are Meghan's ancestors?
Author Halima Sadat writes in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Engagement that Meghan's father's ancestors were coal miners, who most likely moved to the US from Yorkshire in 1859. Seeking a new life and fortune, the family settled in the mining town of Mahanoy in Pennsylvania, where Thomas was born. As he grew up, Thomas wanted to learn a trade away from the mines and he eventually became a film lighting engineer and set builder. He was soon drawn to the starry lights of Hollywood and built a successful career for himself, earning an Outstanding Achievement in Design Excellence Emmy for his work on TV shows, General Hospital and Married with Children. Meghan has since described her dad as "the most hardworking father you can imagine".
Meanwhile, Halima writes of Meghan's mum Doria: "Like many African Americans, Doria can trace her lineage back to the days of slave labour in the Deep South states of Georgia and Tennessee, in particular the area around Chattanooga." Meghan's great-grandmother, Netty Allen, lived in a humble wooden shack and grew up during a time of racial segregation and discrimination. The Allens eventually migrated north to Ohio, and it was there that Doria was born, before she moved to California in the sixties.
Harry has yet to meet Meghan's father
How did Meghan's parents meet?
Doria and Thomas met in California, after Thomas had divorced his first wife Roslyn, with whom he has a son, Thomas Junior, and a daughter, Samantha. "Doria was working as a temp at the television studios where Thomas was the lighting director for a popular soap opera," Halima writes. "They fell in love and were married in 1979, with Meghan being born two years later." The couple divorced when Meghan was six.
Is Meghan close to both of her parents?
Meghan is close to both of her parents and has frequently spoken about the love and support they have given her. Her mum has been at her side at some of her most important appearances, including the Invictus Games, where she made her first high-profile outing with Prince Harry. Doria knew about Meghan's engagement weeks before it broke, and on the day of the announcement, in her typical carefree way, she was pictured watering her plants at home as the world reacted.
Meghan is incredibly close to her mum Doria
There have been reports that Meghan wants her mum to walk her down the aisle, but her father Thomas will likely be in attendance too at the royal wedding. The Emmy winner lives in Mexico, but will fly to the UK to support his little girl. Thomas and Prince Harry are yet to meet; in her first joint BBC interview with Harry, Meghan admitted: "He's talked to my dad a few times; hasn't been able to meet him just yet."