If you expected the days leading up to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials to be filled with sappy tales of how the Brit managed to court America’s newfound princess—think again.
Instead of speculation about where Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and those look-alike sisters with the funny hats will all be sitting in the pews at Windsor Castle, the headlines this week have almost exclusively focused on a clan we didn’t expect to learn so much about: the Markles.
To put it plainly, Meghan’s family has drama with a capital D, with each member attempting to become a part of the global royal wedding conversation—with great success.
In case you’re not caught up with the scandal(s) surrounding Meghan's family (including the latest on whether or not Meghan’s father will walk her down the aisle), here’s a primer on the lineage that’s getting the bride-to-be so much press.
Samantha Grant, half-sister
Here’s the gist: Grant became a household name after it was revealed she’s working on a tell-all memoir titled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, which, presumably, is all about Meghan, and which she says is a way to “make a mockery of the tabloids.” She suffers from multiple sclerosis, regularly drags her half-sister on Twitter, reportedly tried changing her last name to Markle, and makes frequent guest appearances on TV.
Grant’s credibility has unraveled over time, namely because it's come out that she and Meghan are essentially estranged. They apparently haven’t spoken since 2008, and their 16-year age difference has kept them apart—not to mention the fact that Meghan grew up mostly with her mother, not dad Markle Sr.'s clan.
Despite fishing for an invite to the wedding, Grant has previously bashed Harry and Meghan's love story, releasing quotes about the sacrifices Markle Sr. made for Meghan, and becoming upset over Prince Harry’s 2017 statement in which he described his own family as the one his fiancée “never had.” “She has a large family. She always did. Our dad is amazing and completely self-sacrificing,” Grant tweeted. “We made it so that she had two houses. How fun it was!”
Most recently, Grant outted herself as the mastermind behind Markle Sr.’s paparazzi photo scandal, one of the reasons for all of the is he or isn’t he going drama.
Thomas Markle Jr., half-brother
Markle’s half-brother is best known for desperately trying to put a stop to this royal wedding. Early this month, InTouch published a letter Markle Jr. wrote to Prince Harry in which he explains why Meghan isn’t fit to be his wife, calling her a “jaded, shallow, conceited woman that will make a joke of you and the royal family heritage.” Yikes. He also said that Meghan didn’t invite “her own family” to the wedding, although she did.
Despite his disapproval, he later wrote a followup letter to Meghan, this time asking for an invite. Also of note? The fact that he was arrested after allegedly holding a gun to the head of his girlfriend, Darlene Blount.
Other Painfully Embarrassing Relatives
Ever heard of Tyler Dooley? TD is good ol' Markle Jr.'s son, and in their household, stirring the pot runs in the family. Dooley is a self-described "pioneer" in the U.S. cannabis industry and is basically developing a line of marijuana products called Royally Grown. Aunt Meghan is so special to him, in fact, that there's a special strand of weed in the works called "Markle Sparkle."
As if that weren't enough, Dooley, his brother Tyler, and their mother Tracy Dooley (Markle Jr.'s ex) have inserted themselves into the action in the U.K., despite the fact that none of them are invited to the wedding. The family arrived at London's Heathrow Airport earlier this week and according to TMZ, they're going to serve as special correspondents on Good Morning Britain. Stay tuned for their sure-to-be-completely-inaccurate coverage.
Doria Ragland, mother
Meghan's mother Doria is, so far, the only close family member that doesn’t seem to have lost her marbles over royal wedding madness. She will meet Harry’s family, join Markle for the car ride to Windsor Castle, and indeed, watch her daughter become a British royal. We know that Harry asked Doria for permission to propose, and that she met him last September at the Invictus Games.
Ragland, who is divorced from Markle Sr., spent much of her life employed at a mental health clinic, and also teaches yoga. Recently, she reportedly quit her job and hopes to open a private practice for elderly people. Meghan has previously described her mom as a “free spirit,” one that is a “lover of potato chips and lemon tarts.” How sweet!
Thomas Markle Sr., father
Earlier this month, Kensington Palace confirmed that Markle Sr. would finally meet Prince Harry in person a week before he prepared to walk his daughter down the aisle. According to an insider, the father-daughter pair shared their “ups and downs” but ultimately chose to come together. “Meghan loves her dad,” a source told People. Sounds like a recipe for success, right?
Well, shortly after, signs that there could be trouble in royal paradise began to appear. For a moment, Markle Sr. won over the hearts of naysayers when paparazzi captured him getting his tuxedo measurements, reading about Harry and Meghan’s relationship at an internet cafe, working out, and brushing up on British landmarks. The whole thing turned out to be a hoax, and it was revealed that Markle Sr. conspired with L.A.-based photographer Jeff Rayner to stage the photos for a ridiculous sum of money.
Ultimately, Samantha Grant confessed to be the orchestrator of the scandal. She suggested that Markle Sr. pose for the images to rewrite his negative, reclusive narrative in the media. “There’s a lot of scrutiny that it was money motivated, it was not,” she said. Not a wise move, Samantha.
Here’s where things got Harry—er, hairy.
Like Kanye West, Markle Sr. decided to turn to the arbiter of celebrity gossip—TMZ—to announce in quite dramatic fashion that he had chosen to remove himself from the wedding festivities. He said the photos made him look “stupid and hammy,” and that he was simply embarrassed for himself on his daughter’s behalf. Adding more fuel to the fire, he also told TMZ he was in recovery after suffering from a heart attack, but checked himself into a hospital to get better. Kensington Palace joined the fun, describing the situation as a “deeply person moment for Ms. Markle,” and calling for the world’s “understanding and respect.” Womp.
Soon after, Markle Sr. told TMZ that he changed his mind and decided to participate in the ceremony after Markle called, texted, and essentially begged him to attend. “I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle,” he said. Despite his intentions, Markle Sr. then found himself back at the hospital, recovering from “serious damage” and chest pains.
While we waited with bated breath, Markle Sr. proceeded to make Kensington Palace’s worst nightmare come true: he spoke out, again. This time, he told TMZ that he will not attend the royal wedding after all because he had surgery scheduled for Wednesday—3 days before Saturday’s historic nuptials. Apparently, Markle Sr. thinks the heart attack was prompted by only one thing: the open letter his son, Markle Jr., wrote to Prince Harry.
As of now, the person responsible for walking Meghan down the aisle is as much of a mystery as the Yanny or Laurel fiasco.