Supergran Doria Ragland at Meghan’s side after signing up baby expert
How supergran Doria Ragland is a fixture at Meghan’s side after ‘signing up a £5,000 per session baby expert’
- Baby expert Brandi Jordan has clients including Meghan Fox and Rosamund Pike
- She is flown to delivery rooms around the world, charging up to £5,000 a go
- Meghan’s mum Doria Ragland said to have enrolled for grandparenting lessons with Cradle Company following announcement of royal pregnancy
She is known as ‘The Baby Sleep Fairy’ for her legendary ability to soothe crying infants, and among well-heeled new parents her pearls of wisdom on childbirth and after-care have earned her guru status.
Based in Los Angeles, Brandi Jordan’s clients include Hollywood mums such as Meghan Fox, Rosamund Pike and Julia Stiles. She is flown to delivery rooms and nurseries around the world, commanding fees of up to £5,000 a go.
It is a measure of the seriousness with which Doria Ragland is approaching her duties as a grandmother, therefore, that when her daughter’s pregnancy was confirmed, she is said to have enrolled for grandparenting lessons with Ms Jordan’s Cradle Company.
When her daughter’s pregnancy was confirmed, Doria Ragland was said to have enrolled for grandparenting lessons with Brandi Jordan’s Cradle Company
The 40-year-old, who has three children, aged from 22 months to 12, is married to a French ‘wellness and spiritual coach’. Speaking exclusively to the Mail, she gave a fascinating insight into the key role Meghan’s mother is likely to play in Baby Sussex’s early years.
‘Some mothers want to forge their own path, and don’t want grandmother to take a strong role in their parenting philosophy; others find strength in grandma and lean on her to encourage, nurture and help them,’ says Ms Jordan.
From all we know of Meghan and her reliance on Doria, 62, whose integrity, discretion and rock-like dependability sets her apart from the rest of Meghan’s family, she will fall into the latter category.
Such is Meghan’s reliance on her mother that Doria is understood to have flown from her home in Los Angeles to Britain three weeks ago to be with her during the final stages of her pregnancy.
Meghan Markle and mother Doria seen arriving at Cliveden House Hotel on the National Trust’s Cliveden Estate where Meghan spent the night before her wedding to Prince Harry in St George’s Chapel, Windsor
According to royal watchers, the fact that Doria was given a special mention yesterday when Buckingham Palace officially announced the baby’s birth is also highly significant, an indication of the important part she is expected to play in the coming weeks.
‘The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage,’ the announcement read.
Doria is not expected to entirely abandon her life in LA, where she teaches yoga and has many friends (plus two much-loved dogs). However, a suite of rooms has been reserved for her at Frogmore Cottage, and sources say she’ll be a ‘frequent’ visitor and a regular on the ten-hour flight to Heathrow.
As Doria’s stepmother, retired teacher Ava Burrows told me this week: ‘I’d assume she is going to be a hands-on grandmother. In some families in the U.S., grandma is a big deal. Historically, in our culture, the mother worked long hours and needed all the support with her kids that she could get.
‘Grandmas have all sorts of names — Mee-maw, Gran’maw —and usually live close together with the rest of the family, playing a big part raising their grandkids.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a service at Westminster Abbey on March 11 this year
‘Doria is very important to Meghan, and vice-versa. So I’m sure she wants to be a big part of her life, and her baby’s life. She’ll be a wonderful grandmother.’
Certainly, Doria’s style will be very different to anything the Royal Family has seen.
And with her unconventional background, New Age ideas, and homespun values, she will enormously enrich the infant Sussex’s development.
The contrast with his British grandparents, Charles and Camilla, could hardly be more marked.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in September 1956, Doria had a tough upbringing marred by racism, poverty, and her parents’ divorce.
When she was a baby, her father, Alvin, an antiques dealer, uprooted the family and started afresh in California. Soon after they settled in Los Angeles, Doria’s parents divorced. Her father married again, to the younger Ava Burrows.
In a bizarre accident, Alvin tripped over a dog’s lead, hit his head on the kerb and died from his injuries in 2011.
Doria was raised by her mother, Jeanette, who worked long hours as a shorthand-typist. In the early Seventies, when Doria was a teenager, Los Angeles seethed with racial bigotry, but desegregation laws had recently been passed and she was bussed from her black neighbourhood to a predominantly white, Jewish high school.
According to her brother Joseph Johnson, Doria was intelligent and ambitious (with a ‘crazy’ sense of humour) and ‘more forward-thinking’ than other girls from ‘the ghetto’. After leaving school, she worked as a travel agent, taking advantage of discount flights to travel to Mexico and South America, from where she began exporting incense. She started a business called A Change Of A Dress, selling clothes she made herself.
In her early 20s, she trained as a make-up artist, working on the TV soap General Hospital. On the set, she met — and fell for — Thomas Markle, a lighting director.
They were an unlikely couple; he 35, balding, 6ft 3in, divorced with two teenage children and of European descent, she 22, a hippy and more than a foot shorter. But in six months they were married, by a Buddhist priest in a faux-Eastern temple on Sunset Boulevard.
When Meghan was six they divorced, sharing her custody. During Meghan’s teens, Doria worked as an air stewardess, so Meghan stayed mainly with her father. However, when she was younger she spent most of her time with Doria, who called her ‘Flower’, and the pair formed an unbreakable bond.
With lyrical adoration, Meghan described Doria, and the importance of their relationship, in The Tig, the lifestyle blog she ran before meeting Harry.
‘Dreadlocks. Nose ring. Yoga instructor. Social worker. Free spirit. Lover of potato chips and lemon tarts,’ she wrote. ‘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 like she’d been dancing since the womb. And you will smile. You will look at her and you will feel joy. I’m talking about my mom.’
The eulogy continues with memories of her mother imposing strict ‘curfews’ to ensure she was home early in her teens; teaching her to cook Cajun shrimp gumbo; taking her jogging and bike riding.
‘She was keeping me safe, teaching me how to take care of my body,’ wrote Meghan. ‘She was fostering a love of being outdoors. She was planting the seed for me to become a foodie. She was showing me how to be a daughter . . .’
No doubt Meghan will want Doria to pass these life lessons down to her son. That is certainly the hope of her grandparenting mentor, Brandi Jordan. ‘We feel grandmothers have a lot of value to offer to new mothers, and we don’t discount the wisdom they have,’ she says. Why would someone with so much experience feel it necessary to enrol for lessons?
‘It’s more about us giving them some modern and new information,’ explained Ms Jordan.
‘Things have changed since they had their kids, so we bring them up-to-date. For example, we tell them about products that weren’t on the market 30 or 40 years ago.
‘But it’s also just about creating that relationship where grandmother and mother can work together. Those old-school remedies, such as massaging a baby’s colicky stomach with olive oil, and traditional ways of treating coughs and colds, can still be helpful.’
What are the differences between a laid-back Californian grandmother and her upper-class British counterpart?
Having worked with both types, Ms Jordan smiles: ‘Things are a little more progressive in America. It’s about being more relaxed and intuitive versus being rigid.
‘The British are used to having a way of doing things that I really respect [but] there’s a reason why people choose me. They are obviously open to someone with my philosophy — not so rigid and stuck — and maybe want to explore something different.’
Doria is definitely one of life’s explorers. And as Baby Sussex grows up, in a very conventional household, it will be fascinating to chart the off-beat influence of his New Age American Granny.
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