What You Don't Know About Meghan Markle's Family

American actress Meghan Markle is the woman who stole the heart of one of the world's most sought-after bachelors, Prince Harry. Upon the announcement of their engagement, the world naturally had questions about who she is — many of which, we've answered here, here, here, and here — but the curiosity goes much deeper than that. For instance, what is her family like? Is there always as much drama surrounding them as there was leading up to the wedding? Did she grow up in high society like Harry and his noble kin? Keep reading for the answers to those questions and more about the royal family's newest in-laws.


Meghan's parents couldn't be happier about the marriage

Meghan Markle's parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, divorced in 1987 when Meghan was 6-years-old. But when it came time to respond in the press about their daughter's royal engagement, they provided a unified front of delight. In a statement tweeted out by Kensington Palace, the official home of Prince Harry, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and a slew of other royals, Meghan's parents wrote that they were "incredibly happy" for the couple.


"Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her unison with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents," the statement continued. "We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together."

Outside of this official statement, both Markle and Ragland remained relatively mum in the press, with only Markle expanding to The Mirror that he "would love to" walk his daughter down the aisle on the big day, and that he is "very pleased" and "delighted" about her relationship with Harry. His excitement, however, was called into question when her father declined to make the trip for the wedding, citing a recent heart surgery as his reason for missing the nuptials. 


Her parents met in Hollywood

In an essay for Elle, Meghan revealed the her parents met when her mom held a temp job at the TV studio where her father was working as "a lighting director for a soap opera." This was in the "late seventies," according to Meghan, who also mused that she believed her father was "drawn to [her mother]'s sweet eyes and her Afro, plus their shared love of antiques."


Presumably, that soap opera was either Santa Barbara or General Hospital, since they're the only ones listed on Thomas Markle's IMDb page. In an interview with Esquire, Meghan also spoke about visiting another of her father's other long-held Hollywood gigs. "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," Meghan recalled. "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.'"

Meghan's mother didn't stick with the entertainment business, but more on that in a minute.


Her dad won the lottery

While Meghan's mom and dad (who is pictured above with a newborn Meghan) have remained elusive to the press, her half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., and half-sister, Samantha Markle, have not. In a ranging interview with The Daily Mail, Tom Jr. revealed some interesting tidbits about his dad, namely the claim that he won $750,000 in the lottery in 1990. Though the tabloid said they couldn't confirm the win with the California Lottery, both Tom Jr. and "another relative" stand by the story, with Tom Jr. even saying that his dad told him about it by showing him "stacks of money."


Tom Jr. also revealed that even before the lucky windfall, his father was dedicated to providing his children with a wonderful upbringing. They all accompanied him to work at times, as well as enjoyed life at home with their dad, whom Tom Jr. describes as a happy prankster. Meghan was particularly doted upon — she attended fancy private schools until college, the pricey Northwestern University in Chicago, which Tom Jr. said "the money helped" her be able to afford.  

Her dad keeps a low profile

The intrigue surrounding Meghan's father is amplified even further by the fact that he's lived in Mexico since 2011, planting roots in Rosarito Beach, which is about "a half hour from the U.S. border," according to The Daily Mail who confirmed his expat status with Thomas' brother, Michael. Thomas' retirement and subsequent move to Mexico happened just as his daughter's career was taking off, and her star turn on Suits had her moving to Toronto that same year.


This wasn't a coincidence, according to Tom Jr., who spoke with The Daily Mail for the same story, and said that not only had his father always "guarded his privacy fiercely," but that retirement has also "been hard" for his dad, who no longer had the "status" or "social circle" that he enjoyed in Hollywood. "But my dad is the strong, silent type," Tom Jr. said, adding, "There is no way in the world he'd talk about it."

Given his stoic nature, it's probably also safe to assume that Tom Sr. perhaps wanted an escape from the daily reminder that his little girl was now a star and living far away from him. He was always very close with Meghan — she once reflected on her now-defunct blog, The Tig (via The Daily Mail), about what a personal and professional inspiration he was to her. "My dad taught me to find my light," she wrote. Maybe hiding away in a sleepy Mexican beach town offers a physical distance for Tom Sr. that serves to ease an emotional one.


Her parents taught her how to deal with racism

In her deeply revealing essay for Elle, Meghan shed some light on the struggle of growing up biracial, specifically the painful encounters with racism she and her mother, who is African-American, endured. Megan wrote about being present when her mother was at times mistaken for her nanny, called "the n-word" during an altercation in a parking lot, and the subject of passive racism when her college roomate implied that her divorce from Meghan's father "made sense" because she is black and he is white.


Meghan wrote that she watched her mom suffer in silence during these moments, and that it was her dad — who once went out of his way to create a multicultural doll set for her — who encouraged her to "find her own truth" when faced with ignorance.

"While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that," Meghan wrote, adding, "To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman."

Her mom is a wellness counselor and yoga instructor

Though she didn't leave the country like her ex-husband did, Doria Ragland, Meghan's mom, also lived a quiet life far from the tabloids. That is, until she was thrust into the public consciousness when she accepted Prince Harry's invitation to attend the closing ceremony of The Invictus Games in October 2017.


Since then, the press has clamored for details about Doria, and yet there's still not much to report. According to The Daily Mail, Doria lives and worked in Los Angeles as "a wellness counselor for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services," which is a substance abuse treatment center. Just before the wedding, she left that job, stating her intentions to start her own practice once she returns to the States. She earned her masters degree in social work from USC, an occasion commemorated by Meghan when she posted the above photo from her graduation to Instagram with the caption, "Always proud of this beautiful woman."

And it was also Meghan, who gave probably the best glimpse into her mom's life via her 2017 list of "The 10 Women Who Changed My Life" for Glamour when she wrote, "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."


Both of her parents have had financial struggles

Though Thomas Markle was a high-earner for most of his career, not to mention that aforementioned lottery win, he ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2016 due to "credit card debts of £24,181 and savings of just £160," according to The Daily Mail. He also allegedly had problems paying taxes, although his son, Tom Jr., suggested in a separate interview that his father's financial woes were the result of "poor investments made by a business partner."


Meghan's mother, Doria, also filed for bankruptcy in 2002, citing "a $52,750 credit-card bill," also according to The Daily Mail. Neither Doria nor Tom Sr. have ever publicly commented on their bankruptcies, but Meghan's half-sister, Samantha Markle, has spilled some general tea about the family's finances. Like when she accused Meghan of a lack of emotional and financial support to the tabloid, Radar Online. Not surprisingly, Meghan and Samantha don't have the best relationship...

Meghan is estranged from her half-sister, Samantha Markle

Samantha Markle is Thomas Markle's eldest child from his first marriage to Roslyn Loveless. She only recently started using the surname Markle (previously, she went by Grant), in what some detractors view as a bid to ride the coattails of her sister's fame. The public's critical perception of Samantha spurred after a series of tabloid stories were published, which quoted her talking about Meghan in a pretty negative way.


For example, in 2016, on top of the Radar interview, The Sun published a piece stating that Samantha characterized Meghan as a "social climber" who has been changed by Hollywood, and had always aspired to live the life of a princess.

But after the announcement of Meghan and Harry's engagement, Samantha was singing a different tune. In a December 2017 TLC documentary, When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Engagement (via Town & Country), Samantha bemoaned the distance from her sister, and claimed it's all a result of fabrications by the tabloids. "The truth is, I never said any such thing and there's no tape, no recording, nothing in the world that anybody could present to suggest that it was," she said, particularly of the "social climber" comment. Although in a ranging interview with The Daily Mail, published just one month earlier, Samantha did cop to confronting Meghan about her father's and her own financial problems.


As if all of this wasn't confounding enough, Samantha once again interjected herself into Meghan's relationship after Harry's admittedly clumsy remarks about the royals being the family Meghan "never had."

"She has a large family. She always did," Samantha said in a since-deleted tweet, adding, "Our dad is amazing and completely self sacrificing. We made it so that she had two houses. How fun it was!" If you're wondering how Samantha could possibly make things worse for herself, just wait, there's more.

Samantha is writing a book about Meghan

Clearly not understanding that the ideal first step to mending her relationship with Meghan would probably be a complete media blackout, Samantha is doubling down by writing a book that has the working title, The Diary Of Princess Pushy's Sister. Yeah, not helping, right?


But Samantha once again claims that the media has built up the title of the book into something that it's not. Telling The Daily Mail that the title is meant to be an ironic "mockery of the media," who she accuses of falsely attributing her with using the term "pushy," Samantha insisted that it will not be "negative." She expanded on the book's concept in the above interview with Good Morning Britain, in which she described her upcoming tome as having to do with "the inter-racial evolution of this country through the lens of my life and my family since the Civil Rights Act until present, and how that intersects with this recent event with my sister, you know, my feelings about it, my family's feelings about it and how sad it was going through it all." Alrighty then.


Obviously, Samantha's denials will only bear out once the book is published, but her brother, Tom Jr., who she is also estranged from, isn't buying it. "She's trying to cash in,' he told The Daily Mail, adding, "Samantha wasn't there much when Meg was growing up." 

But before you go thinking Tom Jr. is Team Meghan...

Meghan doesn't talk to her half-brother, Tom Jr., either

Working as a window-fitter in Oregon, Thomas Markle Jr. has also been no stranger to the media since his sister became the object of world obsession. And like his sister, Samantha, he also claims that there is significant distance between himself and his famous little half-sis, albeit with far less drama.  


"There was no big falling out. Suits took her to a whole other level of fame," he told the Daily Mail, adding, "She got new friends, mixed in fancy circles. I was married and living my life. We stopped being close."

As for why he's been so media-friendly despite the notion that it could further widen the gap in his and Meghan's relationship, Tom Jr. is seeking to clear up his own reputation a bit. In January 2017, he was arrested and charged with "menacing, pointing a firearm at another person, and unlawful use of a weapon," after an allegedly drunken confrontation he got into with his girlfriend, during which he supposedly put a gun to her head. The charges were eventually dropped, and Tom Jr. promised that he would be "seeking help" in a statement (via The Sun).


It's a mess, and one that Meghan has aptly chosen not to address in public. But look on the bright side, it's not as though her new in-laws, royal as they may be, are without their own long history of family drama