Stepping from the first class cabin of a commercial flight at London’s Heathrow airport on May 16, Doria Ragland was whisked to the Windsor Suite, a private lounge where Harrison Ford, the Dalai Lama and Vladimir Putin have enjoyed pre- or post-flight luxury.
Amid the white leather sofas, bonsai trees and sculptures on plinths, Ms Ragland – best known as the mother of Meghan Markle – was casual and low-key in a t-shirt with a puppy motif, loose pants and trainers.
She was carrying a folded Burberry suit bag containing what commentators decided is probably her outfit for when her famous only child, 36, marries Prince Harry, 33, on Saturday.
Insider knowledge tells us that #MeghanMarkle’s wedding gown is being created by @riccardotisci17 for @burberry – has the Mother of the Bride just confirmed this on her way to London Town?! *TWO more sleeps!* #TheBridalCo #Melbourne #NewYork #London #RoyalWedding #RoyalLondon #Burberry #RiccardoTisci #WeddingGown #WeddingDress #WeddingInspo #WeddingPlanning #InstaWedding #InstaBride
A post shared by THE BRIDAL CO. (@thebridalco) on
And if speculation is correct, the 61-year-old her daughter calls a “free spirit” is the leading candidate to walk Meghan down the aisle of St George’s Chapel in the absence of her father Thomas Markle, 73, who had heart surgery this week.
Forty-eight hours before her wedding, Meghan confirmed her dad is a definite no-show for her big day. The stilted wording of her statement (“I have always cared for my father”) was perceived as a subtle dig at the Markle side of her family:
A statement from Ms. Meghan Markle: pic.twitter.com/TjBNarmuBU
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 17, 2018
Meanwhile, her mother is firmly on Meghan’s side.
At the Windsor Suite, she was met by her daughter’s personal assistant Amy Pickerill. Within minutes, her passport stamped and small wheelie case loaded into a Jaguar station wagon, Ms Ragland was on her way for an afternoon reunion with Meghan and Harry at Kensington Palace.
Ms Ragland sat down to tea with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House on Friday morning (AEST), with Harry and Meghan at the table.
Kensington Palace confirmed that Ms Ragland also met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, at Windsor Castle.
Buckingham Palace has said that Ms Ragland will meet the Queen later Friday.
While Carole Middleton was well-known to British citizens and royals aficionados when her daughter Kate married Prince William in 2011, the latest royal mother-of-the-bride is a more private figure.
Her VIP treatment on arrival in London is a far cry from her life as a yoga teacher and geriatric social worker in suburban Los Angeles.
Meghan has called her marathon runner mother her best friend, and before her romance with Harry wrote several times about their bond.
In a 2014 post called ‘Love Letter’ on her now-defunct website The Tig, Meghan described the woman who will soon be a prince’s mother-in-law.
“Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Free spirit. Lover of potato chips & lemon tarts,” she wrote.
“And if the DJ cues Al Green’s soul classic Call Me, just forget it. She will swivel her hips into the sweetest little dance you’ve ever seen, swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat like she’s been dancing since the womb.
“And you will smile. You won’t be able to help it. You will look at her and you will feel joy.”
Meghan and her beautiful Mother, Doria, at her graduation from Northwestern University in 2003👩🏽🎓 Meghan's biggest inspiration in life, is her mother🌸 here's Meghan talking about how Doria has influenced 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 life-long sensitivity to nurturing and caregiving, but at the same time my mom has always been a free spirit, She’s got dread locks 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.” Doria is a lovely and strong woman; I adore how close they are (reminds me of my own relationship with my mum💞). I am very excited to see her as mother of the bride, very soon!😊
A post shared by Prince Harry & Meghan Markle❤️ (@meghanandherprince) on
Harry is also a Doria fan. They’ve “spent a lot of time together”, Meghan said, and in his engagement interview with the BBC Harry noted simply, “Her mum’s amazing”.
According to People magazine, he asked for Ms Ragland’s permission before he popped the question to Meghan in November.
When Meghan’s parents divorced when she was six, she was raised mostly by her mother, who calls her ‘Flower’ and took her travelling a lot when she was little.
“We can just have so much fun together, and yet, I’ll still find so much solace in her support,” she wrote of their relationship in Glamour in 2017.
“That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend.”
#NEW It is reported that Meghan Markle was in Los Angeles to visit her mother Doria Ragland before her and Harry's wedding. She flew over to the states on Thursday, March 29 which explains why she and Harry didn't attend Easter Church Service. She wanted to spend quality time with her mom before she becomes a royal. But it's not the only time they'll see each other. Plans are set for Doria to fly over to the UK way before the wedding, possibly end of the month or beginning of May to join Meghan in the festive fun and activities and to finally see the dress! Thomas Markle is also expected to fly over to the UK a few weeks before the wedding as well. Meghan is incredibly close with her mom and would want to spend a lot of time with her, without Harry, before she marries him on May 19. I find it sweet and I would surely wish to spend quality time with my mom alone before I Get married. P.S: Isn't Doria beautiful? It's hard to believe she's 62. Meghan definitely has her genes and good looks. Btw, I do not condone any form of racism on my posts and especially this one. If I see any racist words directed towards Meghan or Doria, I will not be afraid to report and block! #45DAYSLEFT #meghanmarkle #princeharry #britishroyals #harryandmeghan #doriaragland #royalwedding2018
A post shared by Harry Meghan Daily (@harry_meghan_daily) on
Days before flying out from California, Ms Ragland reportedly quit her job at a non-profit mental health clinic and is contemplating starting a private practice.
She received her social worker’s licence — “a lifelong dream” — in 2015 after Meghan helped fund her master’s at the University of Southern California, according to Us Weekly.
Before the wedding, Ms Ragland will meet senior royals including the Queen and Prince Charles, then will spend Friday night with Meghan at the five-star Cliveden House in Berkshire.
On Saturday morning, it will be Ms Ragland who will make the 15-minute drive with the bride to Windsor Castle, sharing her last private moments before she joins the royal family.
What will the proud mother be thinking? “Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person,” Ms Ragland said in a joint statement with Mr Markle last November.
“To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”