Meghan Markle’s mother received the royal treatment today as she flew into Heathrow’s ultra-luxurious VIP Windsor suite and had a police escort as she made her way to an emotional reunion with the bride-to-be.
The yoga instructor and social worker was given every perk of being a royal, as she was picked up at the steps of the aircraft by a Jaguar, which is part of the royal fleet, and driven to the private Windsor Suite.
Meghan’s personal assistant Amy Pickerill greeted Doria with an immigration officer, who quickly stamped her passport, as a palace aide was seen collecting Doria’s baggage, including her Burberry wedding outfit.
Doria was quickly whisked away from the airport and taken to see Meghan and Prince Harry before she will meet the Queen and her future royal in-laws, including Prince Charles, William and Kate, for the first time.
Doria’s arrival comes as Meghan’s half-sister Samantha issued a ruthless attack on her, and her father Thomas Markle announced he was having his heart surgery today after he was exposed for staging photos for money.
Samantha astonishingly admitted this week that she was to blame for the paparazzi photos, as she insisted it was all for the benefit of the royal family – not to rake in cash before the wedding.
Thomas, 73, flip-flopped on his decision to pull out of the wedding on Tuesday, saying he didn’t want to miss being a part of history but said it depended on if doctors would clear his release from hospital.
Still, his family members are refusing to rule out that Thomas won’t be able to fly to the UK in time, as royal fans have taken to Twitter to call for Prince Charles to step in and walk Meghan down the aisle on Saturday.
Thomas’ nephew Tyler Dooley, 25, was seen in London today with his mother Tracey, after the two flew into the UK ahead of the wedding, although it isn’t believed they were invited.
Meghan Markle’s mother Doria Ragland received the royal treatment today as she flew into Heathrow’s VIP Windsor suite before an emotional reunion with her daughter. Pictured: Doria leaving her California house for London on Tuesday (left) and a palace aide collected Doria’s Burberry wedding outfit on Wednesday (right)
After Doria got off the plane, she was driven to the VIP Windsor Suite, where Amy Pickerill was waiting with an immigration officer
Meghan’s personal assistant Amy Pickerill, who is believed to be holding Doria’s passport, greeted the future royal’s mother as a palace aide collected her baggage, including her Burberry wedding outfit
The immigration officer reportedly took one look at Meghan’s mother before stamping her passport and letting her go
Meanwhile, the Queen was honouring recipients of the Victoria and George Cross at a reception at Buckingham Palace. The monarch welcomed the servicemen and women and their families to her home for a drinks reception.
Prince Harry and Miss Markle draft in two experienced royal staff to help with the Big Day
To help with the arrival of Meghan Markle’s mother on Wednesday, two of the royals’ very best have been drafted in to assist in the run up to the Big Day.
Amy Pickerill, 32, Meghan’s ‘Girl Friday’ stood outside the Windsor Suite at Heathrow airport today waiting to greet Doria Ragland following her transatlantic journey.
While a Fijian-born corporal who was made William and Kate’s first orderly following their wedding has been working hard in the background fulfilling the flurry of crucial roles including logistics, driving and organisation.
Miss Pickerill, who grew up in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, is said to be ‘supporting Meghan on engagements and with her official work as part of her role’.
While the former Parachute Regiment corporal is constantly on hand to solve any problems that arise during the hectic final few days before Harry and Meghan say ‘I do’.
Her Majesty appeared to be in high spirits today with her smiling not leaving her face once during proceedings, despite claims she was furious with Meghan’s father over the fake photos row.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited Google Arts & Culture projects which are designed to share art, history and heritage across the world.
The pair were also set to meet vloggers, fashion designers and tech-savvy schoolgirls at the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group offices in west London during the whirlwind visit.
Doria is expected to meet the senior royals ahead of her daughter’s big day on Saturday.
She will stay with the bride at Cliveden House the night before the nuptials, and then travelling with her to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on the day.
The five star mansion, near the village of Teplow on the border of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire is roughly 15 minutes away by car to the wedding venue.
It has been chosen for its secluded location and privacy.
After Doria got off the plane, she was driven to the VIP Windsor Suite, where Miss Pickerill was waiting with an immigration officer.
The officer reportedly took one look at Meghan’s mother before stamping her passport and letting her go.
Miss Pickerill was seen getting into the Jaguar and driving away with Doria. Prince Harry and Meghan will see Doria first before she meets the rest of the royal brood.
She is expected to meet Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince William and his wife Kate before the big day.
Prince Harry’s aides were seen collecting her baggage, including her Burberry wedding outfit after she landed
Doria was picked up by a Jaguar, which is part of the royal fleet, at the steps of the aircraft and taken to the private Windsor Suite
Prince Harry and Meghan will see Doria first before she meets the rest of the royal brood, including Prince William and Kate
Miss Pickerill handled Doria’s arrival seemingly seamlessly. She was ‘hand-picked’ by Prince Harry for the role of Meghan’s Girl Friday.
The 32-year-old is an assistant private secretary, based in Prince Harry’s office, and it’s speculated she will be promoted to be Meghan’s private secretary after the Royal Wedding in May.
Miss Pickerill grew up on Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, with twin brother Ashley and is said to be ‘supporting Meghan on engagements and with her official work as part of her role’.
Also a part of the team handling Doria’s arrival was a Fijian-born corporal from the Parachute Regiment.
In January 2013 it was reported by the Daily Mail that he was the first orderly employed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
His role involves chauffeuring, logistics and even organising Prince William’s wardrobe. The Daily Mail was asked not to name him.
‘If you’re supposed to be here, you won’t need directions’: The illustrious Windsor Suite where popes, presidents and even Vladimir Putin has been wined and dined in luxury at Heathrow Airport… but will set you back £3,300!
For travellers weary from the hustle and bustle of flying economy, the idea of flying first-class alone may seem like a distant dream.
But for the elite few an ultra-luxurious experience awaits them when they touch down in London.
Aptly dubbed the Windsor Suite, the opulent VIP service and private lounge at Heathrow Airport – which Meghan Markle’s mother Doria today experienced – has welcomed popes, presidents, royalty and religious leaders into a lap of luxury.
‘If you’re supposed to be here, you won’t need directions,’ said Anita Newcourt referring to the deliberate lack of signage, the lounge’s manager told the Financial Times in 2011.
‘We want to stay the airport’s best-kept secret.’
Adorned with sculptures, bonsai trees and white leather sofas, the Windsor Suite could not seem further away from the madness of the average airport waiting area.
Before 2011 the suite was reserved for a select few whose names were on a list maintained by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, meaning no amount of money of game could grant even the most A-list celebrity access.
Now, it has opened its doors to the wealthy – and the prices are eye-watering to say the least.
The Windsor Suite’s ‘Black’ service starts at £2,750 plus vat (£3,300) for up to three people for an arriving flight as well as those on flights connecting within three hours.
According to the official brochure, wealthy travellers arriving at the airport can expect:
- Staff to meet you from your aircraft, either on the air-bridge or at the foot of the aircraft steps
- Staff to take your baggage tags and drive you to your VIP suite by private luxury chauffeur-driven car while a baggage team arranges the collection of your bags.
- To be shown to your own private lounge where you can relax with refreshments
- To have your passport and other documents handed to immigration officials. You are present but do not need to take an active part unless they require more information or additional checks
- To be able to leave the airport and continue your journey after the formalities of customs and immigration are oever
- To have your chauffeur vehicle take you to any address in the UK (applicable for Black service)
Heathrow VIP’s website says: ‘Heathrow VIP provides you with the perfect airport experience.
‘A private and personal service like no other, we offer a luxurious and exclusive transition through Heathrow.
‘We understand every journey is unique, and our team is committed to ensuring your experience is seamless and memorable.’
It adds that while paparazzi are not allowed in the secure area of the suites: ‘We cannot guarantee long distance photographs will not be taken.
‘Should we be aware of Paparazzi at the Airport or surrounding areas, the Airport team will request they cease and move on.’
A royal aide at the time said: ‘I have to say he is a lovely guy – like all Army, a superb can-do attitude and great sense of humour.’
Despite the international attention focused on her trip, however, Doria cut a laidback figure as she made her way out of her Los Angeles home, carrying a Burberry garment bag, which likely contained an outfit she will wear during the wedding celebrations this weekend.
And should that indeed end up being her chosen designer for the main event, it will be a fitting option; not only is Burberry a British brand, it is also one that Doria has shown herself to be a fan of in the past.
The mother of the bride opted for a Burberry design when she made her first public outing with Meghan and Prince Harry, at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Canada in September 2017.
Meghan’s mother arrived at LAX’s brand new Private Suite, used by the rich and famous, which provides ultimate privacy and luxury facilities, at a cost of thousands of pounds.
Doria has been keeping a low profile over recent weeks in the run up to Saturday’s nuptials, and has been photographed out and about near her home in Los Angeles.
Royal fans call for Prince Charles to walk Meghan down the aisle as a ‘gesture of support’ – after he did the honours for Diana’s goddaughter who was estranged from her father
Prince Charles, who walked family friend Alexandra Knatchbull down the aisle at her wedding in 2016, should be the one to replace Thomas Markle, according to royal fans
The retired lighting director, 73, is reportedly undergoing heart surgery today after a dramatic week which saw him pull our of proceedings due to a staged photo scandal, before yesterday insisting he wanted to come and be ‘part of history’.
Now royal watchers have insisted that the future king is the perfect replacement and taking on the role would be a sign of ‘acceptance’ and ‘unity’ for Charles to do the honours.
Others suggested it would be an equally nice moment for Charles as he has no daughters of his own.
The royal is no stranger to stepping into the father-of-the-bride shoes after giving away family friend Alexandra Knatchbull at her wedding to Thomas Hooper in 2016, as her own father looked on.
At the time, some speculated that Lord Brabourne, a close friend to Prince Charles and the Royal Family and the grandson of Earl Mountbatten, was in poor health.
Others suspected strained relations between Alexandra, goddaughter of Princess Diana, and her father could go some way towards explaining why a bride from one of Britain’s most established families chose to break with tradition.
In 2010 Norton Knatchbull, the eighth Baron Brabourne, abandoned his 31-year marriage to run away to Nassau in the Bahamas with fashion designer Jeannie Nuttall.
When this relationship ended in 2014 and he returned to the historic estate –where Noel Coward played the piano at weekend house parties (when the Queen and Prince Philip were staying) – he was banished from the house to live in a converted barn.
A family friend said: ‘It’s very unusual to be given away by someone else at your wedding – even if it’s the Prince of Wales. At the time Alexandra was absolutely furious with her father for leaving her mother, but of course she still wanted him at the wedding.’
This week has seen countless twists and turns surrounding whether Mr Markle would attend Saturday’s royal wedding at Windsor Castle in Berkshire after The Mail On Sunday revealed he had staged paparazzi photos for money.
The royal did the honours at Alexandra’s wedding in 2016, while her father looked on (left). Meghan, 36, pictured in a wedding dress for her on-screen wedding in Suits (right).
He pulled out on Monday, saying he didn’t want to further embarrass his daughter but it seemed that Meghan had managed to persuade her father to change his mind.
Yesterday it seemed he had backtracked on his decision after the bride-to-be pleaded with him to come to England for the big day.
‘I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle,’ Mr Markle said. ‘Of course I’d walk her down the aisle. This is a historic moment. I’d like to be a part of history.’
However, his attendance is once again in doubt amid claims he will undergo surgery today.
He said that doctors will ‘go in and clear blockage, repair damage, and put a stent where it is needed’ during the operation, which will take place at 3.30pm UK time.
The yoga instructor and social worker has been described by Meghan as a ‘free spirited clinical therapist’ and she has been seen alongside Meghan at a number of public events.
Prince Harry, who has described her as ‘amazing’ flew Doria out to Toronto to join Meghan and himself at the Invictus Games last year.
Royal experts said at the time that Harry’s decision to invite Meghan’s mum to join them at the closing ceremony of his Invictus Games was ‘hugely significant.’
Doria was already expected to have an ‘important role’ during the ceremony. It is thought she will ride with Meghan in the car to the chapel in Windsor Castle.
On the go: The 61-year-old yoga instructor and social worker got picked up at her California home as she made her way to LAX on Tuesday
The former yoga instructor and social worker is expected to see Meghan and Prince Harry first, before meeting the Queen (pictured today) and other senior royals for the first time
Doria, (left, with her daughter) has been keeping a low profile ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding (the couple, pictured right)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding in numbers
0 – Maids of Honour – all the bridesmaids will be children
1 – Best man – Harry’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge
1 – Hour – the length of the wedding ceremony
2 – Diamonds from Diana, Princess of Wales’s collection used for Meghan’s engagement ring, plus one from Botswana
3 – Diana’s siblings at the service
6 – Harry’s position in line to the throne
6 – Windsor Grey horses taking part in the carriage ride
7 – Charities Harry and Meghan picked to receive public donations instead of wedding gifts
16 – The wedding will be the 16th royal wedding or blessing to take place in St George’s Chapel since 1863
200 – Guests invited to the Frogmore House evening reception
600 – Congregation in St George’s Chapel
2,640 – People specially invited into the grounds of the castle
5,000 – UK and international media accredited in Windsor
100,000 – Estimated number of visitors in Windsor on the day
Thomas Markle, 73, revealed that he is having major heart surgery today, coming just hours after it appeared Meghan had convinced her father to change his mind and attend the nuptials, when he announced he wouldn’t be coming on Monday.
He said he didn’t want to embarrass his daughter any further after the Mail on Sunday revealed he had staged paparazzi shots for money.
Before again changing his mind, Thomas said he believed his ex-wife Doria would be a ‘good choice’ to give their daughter away.
Doria is the clear favorite to walk her down the aisle if Thomas is not cleared by doctors to fly.
Prince Charles is 2/1 with the bookies to step in while Prince William is 5/1 to take Meghan into St George’s before starting his duties as Harry’s best man.
There have also been a flurry of bets on Meghan walking down the aisle alone.
According to Us Weekly, the 61-year-old social worker she left her role at the Los Angeles clinic she had been working at to pursue her goal of starting her own private practice following her daughter’s nuptials.
‘Doria is no longer working at the mental health clinic in the Los Angeles area. It was Doria’s decision to leave,’ a source told the outlet. ‘She has talked about starting her own private practice, focusing on working with elderly patients.’
The reports about Doria’s decision to quit her job come just one week after it was revealed that she had met with TV legend Oprah Winfrey at her $88 million Los Angeles home in order to discuss ideas for a tell-all interview.
According to the Mirror Online, the duo spent six hours together going over potential topics that could be covered during a sit-down, with a source saying that they focused particularly on race and the role that it has played in Harry and Meghan’s relationship.
‘Oprah and Doria spent a long time chatting and they got on really well,’ the source said.
‘The most important and significant issue they spoke about was race and how badly some people had reacted to Meghan and Harry.
‘What happened to Meghan and Harry was disgusting and they and all of their families were horrified. It’s an issue close to both Doria and Oprah, who have both suffered racism.’
However, the interview reportedly needs to be approved by Meghan, Harry, and Buckingham Palace before it is recorded.
Growing up, Meghan lived with her mother in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the Mid-Wilshire area o