The 36-year-old (she's three years older than her fiancé) is a breath of fresh air for the British monarchy - not least because her background is so different from most other royals. She hails from Los Angeles, the daughter of Thomas Markle, a television lighting director, and Doria Ragland, a social worker and yoga teacher. Meghan credits her dad and the time she spent on set with him as a kid with sparking her interest in acting.
Here's everything you need to know about the man whose daughter stole Prince Harry's heart.
He met Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, in the late 1970s.
“I like to think he was drawn to her sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques,” Meghan wrote in an 2016 ELLE UK essay about being biracial titled 'I'm More Than An Other.' The couple wed, moved to a Los Angeles neighborhood that was “leafy and affordable,” and welcomed Meghan into the world on August 4, 1981.
The bride-to-be recalls her upbringing in the Valley as lacking in diversity. “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,” Meghan wrote.
Meghan’s parents separated when she was 6. She lived with Ragland, a yoga instructor and social worker, after the divorce.
He has two other children from a previous marriage.
Meghan has two half-siblings, Samantha and Thomas Jr., who are the children of Thomas Sr.'s first marriage to Roslyn Loveless.
Samantha Markle, who is also known by the name Samantha Grant, is 17 years Meghan's senior and has spoken with the press frequently about her half-sister - and not always in a positive way.
Hollywood runs in the family.
Like father, like daughter. Thomas Sr. worked in Hollywood for years. When Meghan was a kid, he was a television lighting director and photography director on sets like Married... with Children and General Hospital.
"Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married ... with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up," she told Esquire in 2013. "There were a lot of times my dad would say, 'Meg, why don't you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes.'"
Still, it felt glamorous to the impressionable tween. “And there I was, behind the scenes of a glossy soap opera and a TV sitcom, surrounded by famous actors and their glam teams, multi-million dollar budgets, and crew lunches that always included filet mignon and enough sweets to make you think you were at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory,” Meghan wrote later on her lifestyle website The Tig.
Thomas Sr. won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Design Excellence For a Daytime Drama Series.
He’s proud of his daughter’s professional achievements.
Ramon Moreno, identified as a family friend, says Thomas Sr. regularly talks about his famous daughter. He told Daily Mail, “[Thomas] was proud of her when she was in Suits, even before she was with the Prince. I am sure Tom will be there at the wedding. He will want to be there. He will be so happy. He loves his daughter very, very much. He says they talk regularly.”
In Vanity Fair, Meghan called both of her parents “so supportive.”
“My parents had been so supportive watching me audition, trying to make ends meet, taking all the odds-and-ends jobs to pay my bills," she told the magazine. "I was doing calligraphy, and I was a hostess at a restaurant - and all those things that actors do... My father knew how hard it is for an actor to get work, so he above all people was so proud that I was able to beat the odds.”
His lottery win helped jumpstart Meghan’s career.
According to Meghan's brother Thomas Jr., their father reportedly scored a $750,000 lottery win when Meghan was nine–a large sum of money that ultimately helped her pursue her acting dreams. “If Meg marries Harry she'll have won the lottery of life but dad winning the lottery helped us all," he told Daily Mail in November 2017. “That money allowed Meg to go to the best schools and get the best training. Meg is someone who has always had laser focus. She knows what she wants and she doesn't stop until she gets it.
“She was always the family's princess but now she's going to be a real princess and I couldn't be more proud.”
He helped his daughter feel comfortable with her identity.
When Meghan’s seventh grade school English teacher told her to check the ethnicity box for Caucasian on a mandatory census, which confused her, she says her father told her: “If that happens again, you draw your own box.”
“I never saw my father angry, but in that moment I could see the blotchiness of his skin crawling from pink to red,” she wrote in ELLE UK. “It made the green of his eyes pop and his brow was weighted at the thought of his daughter being prey to ignorance. Growing up in a homogeneous community in Pennsylvania, the concept of marrying an African-American woman was not on the cards for my dad.”
He now lives in Mexico.
He’s reportedly relocated to the small beach city of Rosarito, where he told reporters that he’d “love to” give his daughter away at the wedding. “I’m very pleased, I’m delighted,” he told U.K.’s Daily Mirror.
He plans to be there to see his daughter tie the knot.
Rumor is he'll walk his daughter down the aisle in May. Multiple publications have recently reported that he'll be in attendance at the royal wedding. Samantha even told a TV station that "He is [planning to attend], God forbid unless a plane crashes through his roof, he'll be there one way or the other."
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