IT was deeply touching to see the historic pictures of our Queen greeting her great-grandson Archie alongside Meghan’s mum Doria Ragland, a proud African-American woman.
It has been wonderful to see Doria front and centre of the birth as it unfolded.
She flew from her home in Los Angeles so she could be by Meghan’s side at Frogmore Cottage, where she has rooms set aside for her, supporting her daughter as the due day came and went.
When the big moment did come, she was alongside Meghan and Harry in the car during their super-secretive hospital dash. And, of course, she was with the prince by her daughter’s side when she gave birth.
Normally the Queen is the first person to know of a new royal arrival, but this time Doria pipped her to the post.
It is the first time a photo has shown the non-royal grandparent watching the Queen meet a new member of “The Firm” for the first time. And in another break with tradition, Doria was given a special mention when Buckingham Palace officially announced the baby’s birth on Monday.
This suggests Doria, 62, will have a big role to play in Archie’s life and as a rock-like presence for Meghan.
ROYALS' AFRICA AFFINITY
The Queen, like her grandson Harry, has a special affinity with Africa, both having spent extended periods on the continent during their twenties. She will likely appreciate the important role maternal grandmothers play in families with African heritage.
Doria is an African-American grandmother who has raised a young woman of mixed heritage to be confident, strong and independent in the US, a country still coming to terms with its complicated racial history.
The fact that Archie has such a diverse family, from free-spirited yoga teacher Doria, right through to the Queen, will help him navigate the path in front of him. The baby ushered in an offshoot of our Royal Family that represents modern Britain where people of mixed race or dual heritage are the fastest-growing ethnic group.
Archie bridges three continents: Europe, America and Africa, and the ability to help different groups of people find common ground will be really important in our future.
By embracing change and adapting to the modern age, our Royal Family continues to occupy a place in the nation’s hearts.
Archie will grow to be a young man familiar with the challenges we face in learning to live with difference, and he will be raised by people — such as Doria — who have done this successfully. In an interview, Doria’s stepmother, retired teacher Ava Burrows, said: “I’d assume she is going to be a hands-on grandmother. Historically in our culture, the mother worked long hours and needed support with her kids.
“Grandmas usually live close together with the rest of the family, playing a big part raising their grandkids.
“Doria is very important to Meghan. She’ll be a wonderful grandmother.”
Doria was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in September 1956. When she was a baby, her father Alvin, an antiques dealer, uprooted the family to California. Soon after they settled in LA, Doria’s parents divorced.
Her father married Ava. He died after he tripped and hit his head on a kerb in 2011.
Doria was raised by her mother Jeanette, a shorthand typist. After leaving school Doria worked as a travel agent and later started a business selling clothes she made herself.
In her early 20s she trained as a make-up artist and landed a job on the set of a TV soap, where she met and fell in love with Meghan’s dad Thomas, who she married.
They divorced when Meghan was six and Doria later worked as an air stewardess.
Doria’s pet name for Meghan was “flower” and the pair shared a powerful bond.
Describing her mum on her former blog The Tig, Meghan wrote: “Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Yoga instructor. Social worker. Free Spirit. Lover of potato chips and lemon tarts.
“And if the DJ cues Al Green’s soul classic Call Me, just forget it. She will swivel her hips into the sweetest little dance, swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat.”
She also wrote about how Doria imposed strict curfews when she was a teenager, taught her to cook Cajun shrimp gumbo and took her jogging and bike-riding.
Perhaps Meghan will hope her mother will repeat all these activities with Archie.
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