About Time

If She Marries Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Will Shatter a Royal Race Taboo

Meghan Markle has described herself as ‘a strong, confident, mixed race woman,’ and her marriage to Prince Harry would mark a major evolution in a presently all-white Royal Family.

Doria Radlan and Meghan Markle are seen at the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 at the Air Canada Centre

Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty

Prince Harry has won a key victory in his quest for Meghan Markle’s hand in marriage—the blessing of the actress’ mom, 70-year-old Doria Radlan.

Doria made clear her approval of the relationship by jetting from her home in Los Angeles to be by Harry and her daughter’s side at the conclusion of the Invictus Games for wounded service personnel in Toronto at the weekend, which Harry founded.

Doria was by Meghan’s side as Harry kissed her.

Harry, Meghan, and Doria allowed themselves to be photographed chatting, joking and looking relaxed and comfortable in each other’s company, triggering a fresh round of speculation among royal fans and observers that a royal engagement may be announced before Christmas. On Tuesday came reports the couple may already be engaged.

And although Harry was snapped kissing Meghan, many will point to the presence of Meghan’s mother at the event and by their side in a VIP box as a more symbolic augur of the couple’s intentions.

A future marriage would break several taboos for the royals. Markle is a divorcee. She is 36 and Harry is 33. But it is the fact that she identifies as mixed race (she is the daughter of a white father and an African-American mother) that will mark the most notable step forward for the hitherto all-white British Royal family.

In a revealing article written for Elle magazine in 2015, Markle spoke of her slave ancestry, saying: “You create the identity you want for yourself, just as my ancestors did when they were given their freedom.

“Because, in 1865—which is so shatteringly recent—when slavery was abolished in the United States, former slaves had to choose a name. A surname to be exact.

“Perhaps the closest thing connecting me to my ever-complex family tree, my longing to know where I come from, and the commonality that links me to my bloodline, is the choice that my great-great-great-great grandfather made to start anew. He chose the last name Wisdom. He drew his own box.”

Meghan has described herself as “a strong, confident, mixed race woman.”

While researchers have been unable to trace a relative by the name of “Wisdom,” according to one genealogist’s report published by dailymail.com, Meghan’s grandfather was Alvin A. Ragland, who died in 2011 at the age of 81.

Her great-grandfather was Steve R. Ragland who was born in 1908 and died in Los Angeles in 1983, and worked at a laundry in Chattanooga. Her great-great grandfather Jeremiah was born in 1881 in Clayton in Georgia and died in 1944 in Chattanooga.

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His death certificate, also published by dailymail.com, states his father’s name was Steve Ragland and his mother’s name was “Texas.” She was a white woman, and, in a reflection of the Jim Crow laws, Jeremiah is described as “mulatto” in the census. His death certificate says that he was a tailor.

Meghan has frequently addressed her genealogical history, writing in another article: “I was home in LA on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver.”

Writing for Elle, she added: “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.

“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. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day last year, Markle published a moving piece of writing on her now-shuttered blog The Tig, exploring the overt and covert racism she and her family have experienced throughout their lives.