The grandfather Meghan Markle adored died tragically outside her mom’s home after tripping on his dog’s leash as he walked the pet, DailyMail.com can disclose.
Markle was filming Suits in Toronto when Alvin Ragland, who had been a huge presence in her life, suffered the fall and died days later.
DailyMail.com can disclose, however, that Ragland’s influence in her life can be seen to this day in standing up against racial injustice – and her taste in interiors.
Alvin was found unconscious outside the olive green home where Meghan’s mother Doria now lives in the View Park-Windsor Hills suburb of LA also known as the ‘black Beverly Hills.
A Los Angeles coroner’s case report unearthed by DailyMail.com says he passed away just nine days after he fell aged 82.
He was found by neighbors less than 200 feet from his front door with the dog leash still wrapped around his ankles.
Meghan’s grandfather Alvin Ragland (circled) died in 2011 after he fell and hit his head on the ground after tripping over his dog’s leash. Pictured left to right: Back row Thomas Markle Jnr, Meghan Markle, Alvin Ragland, Aunt Sandra, Front Row. Mother Doria and grandmother Jeanette
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland (pictured) is the daughter of Alvin and Jeanette Johnson – who died in 2000 aged 71
Alvin tripped and fell outside of the olive green home where Meghan’s mother Doria now lives in the View Park-Windsor Hills suburb of LA also known as the ‘black Beverly Hills’
The LA Coroner ruled his death an accident, writing in the synopsis: ‘According to his daughter, neighbors found the decedent lying in the street at approximately 1200 hours on 3/3/11. The decedent had apparently been walking his dog when he tripped and the leash was found wrapped around one of his ankles.’
Alvin was taken to hospital by ambulance where he was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain. He underwent brain surgery but never regained consciousness, passing away on March 12, 2011.
The report added his cause of death was ‘blunt head trauma’ and ‘foul play is not suspected’.
Meghan was said to be very saddened by her grandfather’s death, which happened while she was away in Toronto preparing for her new show Suits.
Alvin may well have been a proud guest at his granddaughter’s historic wedding to Prince Harry this weekend alongside Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip if he hadn’t had fallen victim to such a bizarre accident.
A family source told DailyMail.com: ‘Meghan loved her grandfather very much and he absolutely loved her. He would have loved to have seen her fall in love and marry Prince Harry and she would have loved him to live to see it too.’
DailyMail.com spoke to old friends of the hardworking Los Angeles antique dealer who used to travel far and wide to flea markets in a ‘beat up car packed with junk’.
Well dressed and with an impressive Afro, Alvin spent his Sundays at the trendy Melrose Trading Post market in Los Angeles, lugging an eclectic collection of antiques from his ‘beat up’ El Camino pick up truck to his assigned lot.
Vendors there still remember Alvin fondly and were amazed when DailyMail.com informed them he was the grandfather of Meghan Markle – who will become part of the British royal family this Saturday.
Ragland had a stand at the Melrose Trading Post at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, where Meghan’s mom Doria went to school
Nearby vendors told DailyMail.com how Ragland often lugged an eclectic collection of antiques from his ‘beat up’ El Camino pick up truck to his assigned lot
This is the location at the flea market where Alvin’s post used to be. Patchy Patchenstein now stands in its place
Eva Meara, whose stand is close to where Alvin worked, said: ‘Alvin was such a nice guy, I loved him. I thought he was homeless because of the car. He was a humble man, the Royal connection is amazing, I’m shocked.’
Describing her charismatic old friend, Eva, one of the few original vendors left, said: ‘He had a beat up old classic El Camino style car, filled with junk. It looked so beat up. That car was so packed with stuff.
‘He took about 10 minutes to get out of the car because he was so tall and heavy set. He was a larger than life guy, very tall, very big, hair like crazy, like an Afro but a big one.
‘He was such nice guy though, amazing. He was just the nicest man ever, just jolly, always happy and very friendly. He would talk to anybody, he was always laughing.’
One of Alvin’s specialties was selling second hand designer shoes.
Eva, 53, remembered he would price his antiques too highly and rarely managed to sell his stuff – not that he seemed to mind.
She said: ‘He sold antiques and knick-knacks, vases and dolls, everything you could think of, he had. But I don’t think he ever sold that much. He put his prices too high.’
Born in 1929 in Tennessee – the same decade as the Queen and Prince Philip – Alvin’s life was very different from his royal counterparts.
His first marriage was to Jeanette Johnson – Meghan’s grandmother, the daughter of a hotel bellboy and lift operator who died in 2000 aged 71.
Alvin could have met Prince Harry’s father – Prince Charles, after the Prince of Wales made a trip to Brookes Restoration Co a Beverly Hills shop run by a British antique restorer called Frank Brookes in 1994
Above is the antiques store where Prince Charles visited. The royal was on a five-day tour and also visited Crenshaw High School – less than a mile from Alvin’s home
They had Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland in September 1956 in Cleveland, Ohio and within months the young family had driven across the country to live in LA, where they had relatives – including Alvin’s aunt Lillie Evans, a successful realtor. However they divorced shortly after arriving.
In May 1983 – less than two years after his granddaughter Meghan was born – Alvin then 53, remarried 29-year-old Ava Burrow. They married while Ava was pregnant with their son Alvin Joffrey Ragland, however their marriage also didn’t last.
Joffrey – who goes by his middle name and is technically Meghan’s uncle – is now a graphic designer in LA and is said to be close to Meghan and his half-sister Doria. He could well be a guest at the wedding.
Alvin once had a shop called ‘Twas New, in View Park-Windsor Hills – just under a mile from his and now Doria’s home.
He then worked at another LA antique shop called Ingram’s – owned by his close friend Eddie Ingram – before eventually opening his own shop next door to him.
Eddie’s son Edward Jr recalled him as a charismatic ladies’ man with a likable roguish edge.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘He was an original. A little roguish, he liked younger women and he spoke his mind. He chased women all his life.
Ragland then worked at another LA antique shop called Ingram’s – owned by his close friend Eddie Ingram – before eventually opening his own shop next door to him
A co-founder of Melrose Trading Post said Ragland was one of the few vendors who came to the market ‘for the people’ and to see his friends, as opposed to just making money
‘Even in his later years he was very active with girlfriends and so forth and chasing women. He was kind of a roguish character.
‘He always kept himself very well-dressed and well-groomed.
‘He wasn’t the kind of man who would hold his tongue very much, if he had an opinion you’d know exactly what it was. He was the kind of personality that it wouldn’t matter your station in life he would speak to you like you were a cousin, he was not one to stand on ceremony at all.’
Edward said Alvin experienced racism throughout his life.
He said: ‘He spent so much of his life on the receiving end of really ridiculous, abominable treatment to black people.
‘He resisted that all his life. He was never ashamed of who he was and what he believed and he didn’t care what you thought about it. He would fight prejudice, it wasn’t just that he would fight it, he would live his life the way he wanted to live it.
‘He owned property, he did business with anybody and everybody, he dated women of different races, he lived his life defiant of stereotype, he didn’t try and conform.’
In an amazing coincidence, Alvin once came close to meeting Harry’s dad Prince Charles when he came over to Los Angeles in 1994 on a Royal visit.
The Prince of Wales – who also visited Crenshaw High School on the five-day tour less than a mile from Alvin’s home – made a trip to Brookes Restoration Co, a Beverly Hills shop run by a British antique restorer called Frank Brookes.
Brookes invited Alvin’s business partner Eddie as a special guest to meet the prince and subsequently Eddie enjoyed boasting about the honor to Alvin.
Edward Jr, 54, said: ‘The Prince made an excursion to Frank Brookes antique and restoration business. My dad was very good friends with Frank and he very graciously invited my dad to his shop and to meet him.
A coroner’s report uncovered by DailyMail.com shows Ragland was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain after his fall and never regained consciousness
The report added his cause of death was ‘blunt head trauma’ and ‘foul play is not suspected’
‘My dad thought very highly of Prince Charles, if I recall he thought he was a very amiable.
‘I don’t think Alvin met the Prince of Wales, but I don’t know that he didn’t.’
Roxie McClendon, who lives next door to Alvin’s former shop said: ‘Alvin was very nice, very mannerable. He was a nice looking gentleman for his age, he dressed nice, nice complexion, nice hair. He worked at Ingram’s and then he opened a little store front himself.’
In his later years Alvin would often go back to Chattanooga, Tennessee where he grew up.
Edward Jr said: ‘I think in his later years he was really trying to reconnect with his son (Joffrey). His son was living here in LA and then they moved him to Tennessee. He was in his late teens and he decided he wanted to spend more time with him because he and the child’s mother were estranged. They would go fishing and do father-son things that he missed out on earlier in the boys’ life, when for whatever reason he was not around.’
Pierson Blaetz, co-founder of Melrose Trading Post, also had fond memories of Alvin, he said: ‘He came here for the people. There’s some vendors who come here to make money and there’s some vendors who come to see their friends, he was a vendor who came to see his friends, this was a place to socialize and say hello to people who were here, he was that guy. He was really beloved by his fellow vendors.’
The antiques fair is held at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, where Meghan’s mom Doria went to school.
Pierson is sure Meghan used to visit her grandfather at the market as a youngster.
It was recently voted as one of the top 10 places in the world to find vintage items and several celebrities – including Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Keira Knightly – have been spotted their over the years.
He added: ‘I guarantee Meghan’s been here, there’s no way she’s not been here.
‘This is the hottest place for teenagers and 20 somethings to go to, so she probably went to it all the time.’