The Palace has spoken.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry next May at Windsor Castle, it was announced on Tuesday. The official release from Kensington Palace -- home base of the future royal spouses as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka William and Kate) and their children -- said the ceremony would take place at St. George’s Chapel, located on the grounds at Windsor.
It’s a much cosier setting than St. Paul’s Chapel, where Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, were married in front of 3,500 invited guests. Or Westminster Abbey, where 2,000 people watched as Harry’s older brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton.
In contrast, St. George’s seats “only” about 800.
In other words, it just got that much tougher to make it onto the invite list.
It probably helps to be family. We’re already plenty familiar with33-year-old Harry’s close and sometimes wacky relations (we’re looking at you, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice). But less is known about the family of Markle, a 36-year-old American actress and only child of an African-American mother and white father who divorced when she was six.
Here’s a primer to study while you’re waiting for your own “Save the Date” card to arrive from the palace:
Her father, Thomas Markle, is an Emmy-winning cinematographer and lighting director: His credits include such popular TV shows as “The Facts of Life” and “General Hospital,” where he won a Daytime Emmy for lighting direction in 2011. From 1988 to 1996, he was director of photography on the bawdy Fox sitcom “Married . . . with Children,” where little Meghan found a second home of sorts. “Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of ‘Married . . . with Children,’” the 36-year-old actress told Vanity Fair magazine in an interview in September. “Which was a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up.”
Her mother, Doria Ragland, is a social worker and yoga instructor in Los Angeles. Growing up, Meghan lived with her mother, who was Thomas Markle’s second wife. Mother and daughter remain close and the warm relationship now has extended to include Prince Harry. In September, Ragland, 61, was photographed smiling alongside her future son-in-law at the closing ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto. “Her mum’s amazing!” Harry said during the couple’s first joint interview with the BBC on the night their engagement was announced. But life hasn’t always been easy for Ragland, whom Meghan recalls hearing called “the ‘N’ word” when they were out together at a concert when she was in college. And Ragland’s in the glare of the spotlight now: On Sunday, the day before the royal engagment was announced, photos appeared on British tabloid site DailyMail.com of Ragland watering plants and getting into her car outside her home (By late Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported, a large “No Trespassing” sign had been hung on Ragland’s front gate and a security guard was posted outside).
Her older half-sister, Samantha Grant Markle, once appeared on “Matlock.” One of two children from Thomas Markle’s first marriage, Grant Markle, 52, is as a former model and actress who lives in Florida. Her IMDB profile shows one acting credit, a 1993 episode of “Matlock” titled “The Competion.” A year ago Meghan and Harry’s romance became public knowledge and another British tabloid, The Sun, quoted Grant Markle as saying of the “Suits” star: “Hollywood has changed her. I think her ambition is to become a princess.” But she later disavowed those remarks, saying “don’t believe what you read in tabloids.” In a live TV interview with “Good Morning Britain” on Tuesday, Grant Markle said of the royal engagement: “It’s lovely, but I have to say I think what’s more important to our family, and certainly to her, is that you find the person that’s the best fit for you, that you love, that really makes you happy.”
Her half-brother, Thomas Markle Jr., seems not to have been bitten by the show business bug. Thomas Jr. reportedly lives and works as a window fitter in Oregon. Press accounts say that the 51-year-old (also a child of Thomas Sr.’s first marriage) is engaged to Darlene Blount, 36 (one tabloid has reported that Thomas Jr. has invited Meghan and Harry to his nuptials).
Her great great grandfather, Jerry Miah Ragland, was a Georgia native. That’s according to a genealogist whom Daily Mail TV hired this fall to research Meghan’s family history (we’re telling you, the British press is relentless when it comes to the royal family). The research found that “Meghan Markle's great-great grandfather Jerry Miah - or Jeremiah - Ragland was born in 1883, in Jonesboro, Clayton County, Georgia.” He and his Georgia-born wife, Claudia (or possibly “Claudie”) Ritchie, later moved to Chattanooga, where he worked as a tailor.