Meghan’s secret dash to visit mum
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, made a secret visit to her mum Doria at her small bungalow in Los Angeles, it has been claimed.
According to The Sun, the couple were spotted during the hush-hush trip by surprised neighbours.
Speaking from her house a few doors down from Doria's quirky, green-painted home in LA this week, one told The Sun: "Meghan is a mummy's girl - their special mother-daughter bond hasn't disappeared just because she's moved to England.
"Meghan will always come back to Doria, this will always be her home.
"They are forever in touch, and Meghan has been here to stay on more than one occasion since going public with Harry.
"I even saw him here once, but it's not my place to say any more."
While the dates of their stay aren't known, royal experts believe it is likely to have been a cost-effective stop-off during the return leg of their trip to Australia in early November, rather than a taxpayer-funded jaunt from London.
And it is not the first time the Duchess of Sussex has made secret trips to LA, The Sun reported.
David and Victoria Beckham lent the former actress their $A50 million Beverly Hills mansion as a hide-out after news broke of her relationship with Harry, 34.
Details of the couple's whistlestop trips come as 62-year-old Ragland gets ready to join them in Britain.
Unlike ex-husband Thomas Markle, Ragland has remained out of the limelight since her elegant appearance at the royal wedding last May.
While Meghan continues to enjoy all the trappings of fame - as seen by her recent $A650,000 baby shower in New York - her mother enjoys a far more modest lifestyle.
Her two-bed bungalow in the aptly named Windsor Hills district - bought for $A335,000 in 1994 - has a small cactus-covered front garden. The muddy, gravel-littered porch is dotted with small plastic signs declaring "trespassers will be prosecuted", the only indication as to her recently elevated status.
As Meghan, 37, travels in luxury, chauffeur-driven limousines, her mum drives a modest Honda CRV.
While Ragland employs a handyman - a long-time family friend who has known Meghan since she was six - to help out, she does all other chores herself.
Her nearest store is Dollar Tree, akin to Australia's $2 Shop chain.
A cannabis dispensary - legal in LA - is within walking distance and offers various types of marijuana, as well as hash brownies and chocolates.
Ragland's home, a 45-minute drive from posh shopping landmark Rodeo Drive, sits on a busy main road near a McDonald's drive-through.
So determined is Ragland to stay grounded, friends claim she has shunned offers of financial help from her millionaire daughter.
One told The Sun: "Doria could live in a Hollywood Hills mansion behind huge walls if she wished.
"But she doesn't. She has chosen to stay in the street she's lived on for the past 25 years, where all her friends are and where her community is. She is incredibly popular around here and everyone is fiercely protective over her.
"Meghan said she can move somewhere more fancy, but she has no interest.
"Doria is a kind, humble lady. She wants a simple life."
Both mother and daughter share a love of exercise. When Ragland isn't walking her two dogs, she can be found practising yoga.
She also regularly teaches yoga at her local community centre.
According to another source, last year the former make-up artist completed training to be a doulah, or birthing companion, and received a certificate as a qualification.
Last month The Sun on Sunday revealed Meghan wanted a doulah by her side when she goes into labour, probably next month. In a 2017 interview, Meghan described Ragland as her closest confidante and spoke fondly about her kooky nature.
She said: "She's got dreadlocks and a nose ring, she just ran the LA marathon. We can just have so much fun together, and yet I'll still find so much solace in her support. That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend."
Although Meghan has embraced royal life, she will never forget her Californian roots.
On her secret time at the Beckhams' house in 2016, during the early stages of her romance with Harry, a source said: "David has known the Prince through their charity works for some years and they've become good mates.
"When David found out about Meghan, he immediately offered the couple the use of his home, which Meghan happily took up. It was the perfect [home]."
As the Beckhams' sprawling house - which they sold last year - was just a 40-minute drive from Ragland's home, Meghan is understood to have also seen her mum during this period.
It is not surprising, then, that the Beckhams proudly attended the couple's wedding in Windsor last May.
And, of course, Ragland was the only member of Meghan's family to be invited to the event after Thomas Markle had to pull out with a heart scare.
She is expected to stay with the couple when they move into Frogmore Cottage in Windsor from their current Kensington Palace residence.
Although Ragland was originally due to arrive nearer the birth date, she is now expected at the end of this month, a couple of weeks early.
And she is said to be furious about her estranged ex's latest outburst, in which he revealed a heartfelt, private letter from Meghan. It is the latest embarrassing outpouring from Markle, 74, who has repeatedly claimed to have been shunned by the royal family and his daughter.
In contrast, devoted Ragland has maintained a dignified silence throughout her time in the public eye.
She released a joint statement with her ex after Harry and Meghan's engagement was announced.
It said: "We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents."
Since then, the proud mum has not uttered a word in public, nor put a foot wrong.
As Meghan continues to wage a PR war against her doubters, Ragland might just be her greatest asset.