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Doria Ragland Sitting Alone at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is a Perfect Demo

What many are talking about today is not only how regal and elegant she looked, but just how much Ragland represented the level of grit, grace, and sacrifice women make daily to ensure their children are safe, happy, and fulfilled.

Up until this past Saturday, 61-year-old Doria Ragland was a yoga instructor and mental health counselor living her life to its fullest. A long-time advocate for geriatric health, Ragland was one of many health professionals working to protect the lives and rights of human beings.

On May 19, following the royal marriage of her daughter Meghan Markle to Britain’s Prince Harry, Ragland stepped from her private life of healer and health ally into a very public role as the mother of the newly-styled Duchess of Sussex. What many are talking about today is not only how regal and elegant she looked, but just how much Ragland represented the level of grit, grace, and sacrifice women make daily to ensure their children are safe, happy, and fulfilled.

 Doria Ragland looks on as her daughter, the former Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, weds Prince Harry at their royal wedding on May 19. 

Photo by DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images

As loving mothers, we want the best for our kids. We want them to have all the opportunities we didn’t, we want them to thrive, to be full of confidence and be well-equipped to make good choices. But as I watched Doria Ragland witness her daughter’s matrimonial entrance into British royalty, I couldn’t help realizing that Ragland was facing one of her greatest sacrifices yet. Not only would she gracefully reconstruct the close, personal relationship she has with her daughter so that Duke of Sussex could now come first in her child’s life, but she would also be giving up her own privacy to become the mother of a duchess that now belonged to the world.

So many women understand the pressures of appearing like we have it together. And when it comes to our children we will walk through fire to protect them. Billions of people around the world watched as Ragland sat alone in the pew of St. George’s Chapel, formidably supporting her daughter after Kensington Palace confirmed Thomas Markle, Sr. would not be attending due to a recent heart attack. Already trying hard to ensure her father’s health news didn’t steal the sunshine from Meghan Markle’s big day, Ragland proudly played the role of mother and father, wanting her daughter’s only emotion on her wedding day to be pure joy.

As I watched this diminutive, Oscar-De-La-Renta-dreadlocks-wearing, unapologetically Black woman hold her own in a room full of royalty, I felt my own memories of needing to be strong through the rough waters of motherhood come flooding back. The mother of 2 children by the time I was 17, I recalled just a few of the things I’d given up so that I could be 100-percent-available to my kids.

There was no prom for me; my days instead were filled with baby bottles, dirty diapers, and the few hours a day I could concentrate on trying finish high school. I’d wanted to be a cheerleader because I was a great dancer, but teenage pregnancy made dreams like that permanently deferred.

And my once steady group of friends quickly began to dwindle - they wanted nothing to do with being cooped up in a house with a screaming baby when they’d rather be hanging out together instead. Like Ragland, I understood very well what it meant to be completely and utterly alone, knowing that the full responsibility of keeping my children safe lay directly with me.

Today, two days after her daughter’s life-changing event, I’m thinking about Ragland and wondering how she’s fairing under the sudden scrutiny of press, royal watchers, and the global curiosity surrounding her daughter, the new Duchess of Sussex.

 Facebook member Lisa Cole's tribute to the "grace, dignity and poise" of Doria Ragland.

What I believe to be true is that she’ll continue to stand proud and remain fiercely strong. I’m hearing the words of Facebook member Lisa Cole echo in my ears: “Can we just take a moment to honor this beautiful, strong woman who sat alone, wistfully alone, a million miles from home—in a situation so foreign to her own life—with grace, dignity, poise, honor and deep love for the child she raised? THAT is royalty.” I agree wholeheartedly. 

Helen Owens, an award-winning, veteran hair replacement and restoration specialist, has appeared in a host of media outlets as an expert on hair loss and women’s issues and is an advocate for helping women survive the challenges of losing their crowning glory. She has contributed to several books and is the author of Finding Our She-Compass: 15 Life Lessons for Women Voyaging Toward Restoration, Reconstruction, and Renewal. Owens is also the host of The She-Compass Show, a vodcast and podcast featuring no-holds-barred, dynamic conversations between women who share their personal stories of overcoming some of life’s most challenging relationships to become captains of their own ships. 

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