Meghan Markle's family: What the royals want to keep hidden

Prince Harry and his royal family are no strangers to the spotlight and the allure of a real-life fairy tale. His older brother, Prince William, captured the world's attention when he married someone well outside the regal ranks — former college classmate Kate Middleton (now formally known as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.) They produced three heirs that have already made history with their non-gender-specific succession rankings.

Then it was Prince Harry's turn to help modernize the palace, and he did so by falling in love with Meghan Markle, a bi-racial American actress whose previous marriage and divorce challenged the cookie-cutter expectations of a royal wedding. Making matters even more headline-worthy, however, was the fact that some of Markle's family members came out of the woodwork to create their own media circus ahead of the happy couple's nuptials. 

Buckingham Palace might be notoriously good at controlling the narrative surrounding the royal family, but Markle's relatives certainly offered up some new challenges. Here are just some of the stories about Meghan Markle's family that the crown probably would prefer to keep hidden.

Her mother has had some terrible brushes with racism

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's rumored relationship was finally confirmed when he issued a statement, condemning bigoted comments against his "girlfriend" and her family. However, it wasn't Markle's family's first experience being bullied based on skin color.

In an essay for Elle, the former Suits star addressed the complications her status as a mixed-race woman had caused throughout her life, dating back to her childhood living in a rather monochromatic neighborhood in Los Angeles. "And there was my mom, caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny," Markle wrote. She recalled another instance when a disagreement in a parking lot led to her mom, Doria Ragland, being called the "N-word" in front of Markle. 

Fortunately, such horrible experiences haven't dampened Ragland's spirit, and Harry considers his mum-in-law to be "amazing."

Her upbringing was anything but ordinary

Perhaps it's no surprise that Meghan Markle pursued a career in show business, since she grew up on the set of the shows her father, Thomas Markle, worked on as a television lighting director. She often spent her afternoons watching production on the cynical sitcom Married … with Children, which exposed her to some very adult jokes early on. As she told Vanity Fair, this was "a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic-school uniform to grow up."

"There were a lot of times my dad would say, 'Meg, why don't you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes,'" she told Esquire. The experience obviously made an impact, as she later found herself on the sets of her own small-screen series.

Her half-brother has a checkered legal history

Although she's often spoken positively about her parents in public interviews, Markle has had remarkably less to say about her relationship with her paternal half-siblings. Even a cursory review of the headlines surrounding them, makes it pretty clear why she might not want to shine a spotlight on either of them.

Her brother, Thomas Markle, Jr., for example, has quite a rap sheet. He was arrested at his home in Oregon in early 2017 for allegedly brandishing a firearm and pointing it at his then-girlfriend (who later became his fiancée), Darlene Blount, during an argument, reported the Daily Mail. His son, Tyler Dooley, said his dad was remorseful. "He knows it is an embarrassment to Meghan and the family," Dooley told The Sun. "He is very sorry and is apologising to everyone. He just needs some time to heal and reflect on life."

However, that wasn't the last time her half-brother's personal life would make damaging headlines.

Her brother's fiancée has also been locked up

Nearly a year after her brother's arrest, Meghan Markle's future sister-in-law would also find her mugshot making (inter)national news. According to TMZ, Darlene Blount was arrested for allegedly assaulting Markle Jr. on New Year's Eve 2018 during what was supposedly another booze-fueled altercation. As if the cuffing and resulting glamour shot didn't bring enough negative attention to Markle's estranged family, the story would continue to become even more sordid as details about Blount's 911 call on the night of the incident were released.

According to the Daily Mail, Blount told the dispatcher that Markle Jr. had been drinking, was being "really f***ing weird," and was accusing her of attempting to hook up with another guy while out at a bar. She also reportedly claimed he was hitting himself, but when police arrived at their home, they apparently didn't believe his wounds were self-inflicted. Blount was arrested for assault and spent two nights locked up "until the District Attorney decided not to press charges and released her," reported the Daily Mail.

Netflix's The Crown might've laid bare some of the seedier scandals surrounding the British royal family, but there's never been anything quite like this.

Her half-brother tried to sabotage the wedding

Thomas Markle Jr. also made a very bold attempt to dissuade Prince Harry from marrying Meghan by reportedly writing a letter that condemned her for pretending to be a "princess" when she's actually a "below C-level Hollywood actress." In the note, Markle Jr. called Meghan a "jaded, shallow, conceited women [sic] that will make a joke of [Harry] and the royal family heritage." Thomas Markle Jr. also reportedly claimed Meghan left their father "broke [with] mostly all of her debts." 

As if the name-calling and accusations weren't savage enough, Markle Jr. then went on to tell Harry in the note: "Meghan Markle is obviously not the right women [sic] for you. As more time passes to your royal wedding, it become [sic] very clear that this is the biggest mistake in royal wedding history … You and the royal family should put an end to this fake fairytale [sic] wedding before it's to [sic] late."

Her half-sister skewered her in the press

Thomas Markle Jr. isn't the only member of the family who's had some choice words to describe Meghan Markle. Her half-sister, Samantha Grant (who changed her last name to Markle before the royal wedding,) has also unleashed on the actress. According to The Sun, Grant went on a Twitter rampage in early 2017, shortly after Meghan penned an article for Time on the impact of menstrual cycles on impoverished international communities.

Samantha questioned Meghan's status as a true humanitarian, writing, "But what did she donate to them to make real change come about? Money for toilets, maxi pads, or just a photo op?" She also accused Meghan of being a "shallow" social climber who had a "soft spot for gingers" and aspired to be a "princess." Samantha claimed to have raised Meghan for 12 years of her life, which sources denied, and she decided to write a memoir that she initially planned to title The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister. Samantha has since apologized and walked back some of her claims about Meghan.

Prince Harry may have put his foot in his mouth

Although her siblings have freely admitted that their relationship with Meghan Markle has been strained, they still took umbrage with a comment Prince Harry made about her growing bond with his own relatives. After she spent time with the royals over the 2017 winter holiday, shortly after their engagement was announced, Harry discussed how well it went. "She really enjoyed it. The family loved having her there … it's the family that I suppose she's never had," he said (via People). 

Thomas Markle Jr. decided to speak up against Harry's choice of words, telling the Daily Mail that her father "would be confused" by those comments and stating, "It was just a little shocking because Meghan had an amazing, amazing childhood growing up and she had a lot of family … as far as 'the family that she never had,' I don't really get that… My dad was the biggest anchor in everybody's lives and the holidays were really important to him."

Her half-brother wants her help dealing with scrutiny

As many voluntary interviews as he's given, you might think Thomas Markle Jr. relished the burst of secondary fame his sister's royal wedding gave him, yet he claims the added attention was nothing but burdensome. In an interview with InTouch, he said he and his legal team asked royal officials for help dealing with media scrutin, but he supposedly didn't get the response he'd hoped for from his half-sister.

"My lawyer had a phone meeting with her lawyer, and he emailed me some of [Meghan's] direct words. She said, 'That's distant family and I don't know those people.' That's pretty harsh," he told the magazine. "My attorney was reaching out to her people and the palace to basically [help us] try to get a retraction for all these false stories in [countries] where there are different laws." He summarized the response he supposedly received from Prince Harry's team as follows: "I am so sorry to hear you have been having a tough time with the media." This alleged request for public relations assistance wasn't the only public plea from this side of her family.

Her sister wants her to fork over some cash to her father

Thomas Markle Sr. reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2018, and Meghan Markle's siblings seem to think it's her responsibility to restore him to solvency. Although Markle Sr. seems to have purposefully avoided public scrutiny, Markle Jr. claimed his father won the lottery when Meghan was a child and devoted a significant amount of his winnings to paying for her private education. "If Meg marries Harry she'll have won the lottery of life but dad winning the lottery helped us all," he told The Mail on Sunday (via the Daily Mail). "That money allowed Meg to go to the best schools and get the best training." 

Meanwhile, Samantha Grant was much more direct, telling Australia's Nine News, "Honestly, what she could spend in a weekend would greatly help Dad, so that should be a priority. If you can afford $75,000 for a dress, you can afford $75,000 for Dad."