Members of the Markle and Ragland families have been related by marriage to the British royal family since the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, on May 19, 2018, when she became the Duchess of Sussex. The Markle (originally spelled Merckel) family is of German descent and originates in Alsace on the modern French–German border, and her ancestors moved to the United States in the 18th century; among her father's other ancestors are American settlers of English, Dutch, and Irish descent. Her mother is of African American descent and her early ancestors hailed from the U.S. state of Georgia.
Thomas Wayne Markle is the father of the Duchess of Sussex. He is a retired American television lighting director, born in 1945. Markle was raised in Newport, Pennsylvania, the son of Doris May Rita (Sanders) and Gordon Arnold Markle. His mother was from New Hampshire. He has two brothers. He was previously married to Roslyn Markle (née Loveless), with whom he had Thomas Markle Jr. and Samantha Grant (née Markle). He was a co-recipient of two Daytime Emmy Awards for work on the television medical drama General Hospital (in 1982 and 2011) and received a Chicago / Midwest Emmy Award for work on the television program Made in Chicago (in 1975). He also won $750,000 in the California State Lottery in 1990, although he later declared personal bankruptcy (in 2016). He currently resides in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico. He had planned to walk Meghan down the aisle for her wedding, but did not. He said his absence was due to his health, as he was recovering from a heart attack and had undergone heart surgery. In reference to his son and other daughter's comments about the royal wedding, he said they "should just shut up about everything".
Doria Loyce Ragland is the mother of the Duchess of Sussex. She was born in 1956. Doria Ragland is the daughter of Jeanette Arnold (d. 2000) and her second husband Alvin Ragland (d. 2011). She has two older maternal half-siblings and a younger paternal half-brother. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California. In May 2018, just a few days before the royal wedding, she resigned from her position at a mental health clinic to enter private practice working with elderly patients. She previously worked as a make-up artist and travel agent. She has a close relationship with her daughter and was the only member of the Duchess's side of the family who was present at the royal wedding.
Samantha Markle (also known as Samantha Grant) is the paternal half-sister of the Duchess of Sussex, the daughter of Thomas Markle Sr. and Roslyn Markle (née Loveless). She was born in November 1964 and lives with her boyfriend Mark Phillips in Belleview, Florida. Markle has been divorced twice and has been through personal bankruptcy. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008, and has been using a wheelchair since then. She has worked as a model, actress, and mental health counselor. Markle has three children, one of whom she is estranged from. She is also estranged from her mother, her brother, and her half-sister. At the time of the royal wedding, she had been estranged from her half-sister for almost a decade and had not spoken to her since 2015. She was not invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and her half-sister and had not attended her half-sister's first wedding either. She has cited Doria Ragland as the main reason behind their estrangement, and insisted that Meghan should have helped their father financially (as he had declared bankruptcy in 2016). However, Markle's mother criticized her daughter's behavior and remarks to the press, saying she was "an embarrassment" and needed to "get some dignity". She appeared on the TLC special program When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Engagement to discuss her half-sister and her upcoming book, The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister. Markle insisted that it will not be a tell-all book, but will rather merely be about "some of the beautiful nuances of our lives". In an interview with The Sun, Markle called her half-sister a "shallow social climber" whose behavior was not "befitting of a royal family member", though she later changed her mind, describing Meghan as "very animated, very charming, very lively", and "absolutely lovely".
In May 2018, Markle told the media that she had suffered a broken ankle and fractured knee after Phillips crashed a car into a concrete barrier while driving with her and trying to avoid being photographed by a member of the paparazzi, although Florida police said no report of such an incident had been filed and they had "no evidence" that it had taken place. In the months after the royal wedding, Markle has occasionally criticized her half-sister and brother-in-law on Twitter. When asked whether she was making money through speaking out about her relatives, Markle replied: "I've worked in media most of my life and in broadcasting. So because my sister is suddenly royal isn't grounds for me to stop doing all of that."
Thomas Wayne Markle Jr. is the paternal half-brother of the Duchess of Sussex, the son of Thomas Markle Sr. and Roslyn Markle (née Loveless). He was born in 1966 and lives in Grants Pass, Oregon, with his fiancée Darlene Blout. He was married to Tracy Dooley until their divorce in 2001 and then to Johannes Rawha until their divorce in 2009. He and Tracy Dooley have two sons, Thomas and Tyler Dooley. He works as a window fitter. He was arrested in January 2017 after threateningly holding a gun to Blout's head during an argument while he was under the influence of alcohol. Later in 2018, following another incident, Blout claimed in a police call that "Markle was beating himself up" and "drinking", saying that he "was not mentally fit". Blout got arrested by the police on assault charges, but was later released. The couple were involved in another domestic violence incident in July 2018 after which Blout was arrested again and released "after posting bail".
Thomas Markle Jr. was not invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and his half-sister, and at the time of the wedding, he had not seen her for about seven years. In an interview with the Daily Mirror in April 2018, Markle called his half-sister a "phony" who had "turned into a different person" and "forgotten her roots and her family" since becoming famous. He then sent Prince Harry a letter, asking him to call off the wedding – saying the upcoming wedding would be "the biggest mistake in Royal Wedding History", criticizing his half-sister's treatment of Thomas Markle Sr. by saying she had been "using her own father until he's bankrupt", and calling her "a Jaded, Shallow, Conceited woman". However, he later wrote another letter in which he told his half-sister he was "sorry for venting my frustrations" after not being invited to the wedding and that he was "very proud" of her and wanted her "to have a great wedding and a long future with Prince Harry". After their father's relationship with Meghan soured following his multiple paid interviews, Markle Jr. said on Daily Mirror that "she is abusing his love for her, ... It's selfish, cruel even".
Thomas Markle is descended from German, English, and Irish immigrants. His forefather Heinrich Martin Merckel emigrated to the United States from Lampertsloch, a historically German-speaking town in modern-day France near the French–German border, and later changed the spelling of his name to Markle, their current family name. Amongst Thomas Markle's distant ancestors are Captain Christopher Hussey, King Robert I of Scotland, Sir Philip Wentworth and his wife, Mary Clifford, daughter of John Clifford, 7th Baron de Clifford, and a descendant of King Edward III of England. Among Mary Clifford's descendants is the Rev. William Skepper, of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge who immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts in New England in 1639. For some decades, researchers had suggested Captain Hussey was descended from John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, a descendant of King John, and this descent was widely reported in the media. The New England Historic Genealogical Society, however, say that Christopher Hussey's connection to any noble family "seems highly unlikely".
Doria Ragland is descended from African Americans enslaved in Georgia. According to information passed down (much of it verbally) from earlier generations the Ragland name came from William Ragland, a Methodist who had emigrated during the eighteenth century from Cornwall, England to North America, settling successively in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. It is inferred by family members that Doria Ragland's first identifiable African American Ragland ancestor was Richard Ragland, born in Jonesboro, Georgia, in 1830; he lived long enough to experience the abolition of slavery in 1865.