The expression of the new mother will be familiar to every young woman who has just given birth.
It records an emotional whirlwind of unbridled joy and total exhaustion, relief and absolute wonder.
However, perched on his lap just hours after arriving in the world, his daughter looks like a picture of serenity.
Indeed, she seems so composed that the camera blinks, it's almost as if she could feel her extraordinary fate.
This is the very first photo of the future Duchess of Sussex owned by her mother Doria in a hospital room in Los Angeles on August 4, 1981.
A bright future: baby Meghan did not know that his own child would be a British king. These remarkable images feature among more than 30 photos from a family album never seen before, presented exclusively to the Daily Mail by Meghan's uncle, Joseph Johnson.
Baby Meghan is taking its first steps. The images are particularly important for her family, recounting a happy but sometimes restless childhood, from the duchess to her youngest age.
Captured by a family member in an austere LA hospital ward, this evocative portrait is the very first photograph of the future Duchess of Sussex.
She was taken so shortly after the birth of Meghan, on August 4, 1981, at 4:46 in the morning, that she still wears an identity tag around her wrist and ankle and that she was not wearing any clothes. she barely fills her sky blue blouse, while she snuggles next to her 24 year old. mother, Doria Markle.
This remarkable image features among more than 30 photos of a family album never seen before, presented exclusively to the Daily Mail by Meghan's uncle, Joseph Johnson.
The images are of particular importance to her family, illustrating the happy, but sometimes agitated, childhood of the Duchess.
Although we have seen many pictures of the young Meghan with her father Thomas and her family, this collection opens a new window on the moments she shared with her maternal parents, especially her mother Doria and her grandmother Jeanette Johnson; the women who influenced her the most.
Bond: Granny Jeanette adored her granddaughter and helped her to raise him while Meghan's mother went to work. This collection opens a new window on the moments shared with her maternal parents, especially her mother Doria and her grandmother Jeanette Johnson; the women who have most influenced her
Meghan, photographed with her maternal grandmother 'Granny Jeanette' who strongly influenced her as a girl
This week, as his niece prepares for the imminent birth of his first baby – albeit in rather different circumstances – 69-year-old Mr. Johnson flipped through the blurry snapshots, recalling that he had explained why he had chose to publish them.
"I think the time has come for the world to see the other side of Meghan's family – the positive side, not the degenerative side – and for them to be part of its history," he told us. he said, alluding to the constant whirlwind of scandal surrounding his paternal parents, including his father, half-brother and sister.
In an extensive interview at his studio in Fresno, California, Mr. Johnson, a talented artist, also provided a candid insight into many other aspects of Meghan's life, revealing how:
- Far from being intimidated by her new position, Meghan "loves" the celebrity and adulation of being royal, according to her mother.
- He "does not recognize" the Meghan who would have been called "Duchess Difficult" by the assistants of the palace for his authoritarian attitude.
- His wife, Pamela, felt "shocked" by the fact that Meghan chose to exclude all members of her family, with the exception of Doria, from her marriage, while her husband was not married. he was more optimistic.
- He was shocked when Princess Michael of Kent attended a Christmas banquet – at which Meghan was present – wearing what some considered to be a "racist" pin featuring an African figurine.
- He is proud of Meghan and Harry for breaking with tradition by choosing to celebrate the baby's arrival in private and choosing their own birth team instead of the royal gynecologists.
- He thinks Meghan will quietly hope that his baby is a girl because a boy would present him with "more of a challenge".
Mr. Johnson and his younger sister Saundra had a different father from Doria, but they shared the same mother, Jeanette, and the three were raised together, first in Ohio and then in California.
Daughter of a hotel hunter, Jeanette first married Joseph Johnson Senior, with whom she had two children – Joseph Junior and her younger sister, Aunt Saundra of Meghan. She then divorced and married the antique dealer Alvin Ragland, Doria's father.
Bonny baby: A chubby Meghan a few months. Since Doria had to return to work for financial reasons soon after birth, it meant that Meghan had spent most of her youth in her grandmother's care.
Meghan as an 18-month-old baby, in one of his most stylish clothes. She saw less of her grandmother after leaving university, but the couple stayed close until Jeanette died of heart disease and an accident cerebrovascular accident, aged 71, in 2000.
Family Life: Little Meghan plays with her mother Doria. That's because she had such a formative relationship with her grandmother, her uncle deduced, that Meghan is so keen on what Doria, now a yoga teacher, plays a major role. in the life of his own baby.
With time, this marriage has also ended. However, Meghan's mother, aunt and uncle stayed with the matriarchal Jeanette, who raised them largely as a single mother. Her son said that she was "like the man of the family – and his wife and mother" and describes her as "a real gun".
With racial segregation still rampant in the United States, their childhood has been marred by poverty and fanaticism so appalling that the family has already been driven out of a Texas-only white city, as it was headed to the west looking for a better life.
However, Mr. Johnson testified that these experiences had helped to make Jeanette more resilient and socially aware, features that she passed on to Doria, who passed them on to Meghan, giving her an inspiration for her. Campaign work for human rights. Meghan has inherited other values from her formidable Granny Jeanette, including her self-reliance, quick wit and vicious sense of humor.
Because although Meghan's mother and father did not divorce before the age of six, Mr. Johnson is adamant that their marriage was already failing at birth.
Since Doria had to return to work for financial reasons soon after birth, it meant that Meghan had spent most of her youth in her grandmother's care.
"Doria and my mother lived in Los Angeles. Jeanette has played an important role in Meghan's care, "he recalls. & # 39; After birth, Doria continued her career [as a make-up artist and later air hostess] and my mother would watch her during the day.
While browsing the family album, he chooses various photos that show the bond that united Meghan to his grandmother.
One of them shows the little girl Meghan lying on Jeanette's lap, while she gently taps her back to "pull her up". Another displays the adoration of her grandmother while she and Doria hold the baby in the air and watch her marveled.
"It's my mother and granddaughter, and she's just smiling," laughs Johnson. & # 39; Oh, she was happy! [when Meghan arrived] Just crazy, crazy for joy.
Meghan saw less of her grandmother after leaving university, but the couple stayed close until Jeanette's death after a 71-year-old heart attack and stroke. 2000. She willingly sacrificed her weekends to be by her bedside towards the end.
That's because she had such a formative relationship with her grandmother, her uncle deduced, that Meghan is so keen on what Doria, now a yoga teacher, plays a major role. in the life of his own baby.
Her mother is expected to make regular transatlantic trips after birth and to move to the new home of Meghan and Harry, Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor.
& # 39; I think [Doria] will be a big part, he says. "I think she'll be active, just because of Meghan's time constraints." She will have to be around.
"I think she'll be a great-grandmother, if she helps raise that child, just like Meghan was raised."
Doria, he adds, instilled in Meghan "love, kindness and self-worth", and showed him the importance of "helping" others and showing a lot of courage". He expects these values to be imbued in the baby.
Meghan amuses herself by playing outside in one of the many charming pictures from the recently released album
Thinking back to this beautiful first photo of Doria and Meghan, he remembers the enormity of the occasion. "I think it was taken the day he was born, or maybe the next day," he says.
Doria still has her dress and she looks like having a baby! We were all happy, on the moon. It was like a new world.
"Before Meghan was born, Doria looked like a crazy, wild teenager. It was such a decisive moment, compared to his previous life, in Hollywood and in television studios. [where she temped as a make-up artist] with Tom [Meghan’s father, an award-winning lighting director]. That brought him into the real world.
He returns to the album. Here is Meghan, four months old, spending her first Christmas, she is laying on a bed not sewn next to her gifts that are stored in a scarlet bag bearing the mention "Santa Claus".
There, she takes her first hesitant steps on the path in front of her house; play cuckoo with Doria; licking an ice cream cone and covering it with her cheeks; tasting his first rib of beef at a barbecue; help his mother feed the pigeons; opening his gifts at his second outdoor birthday party. These are really magical memories.
We see Meghan having fun with her cousins, including two of the three sons of Mr. Johnson, Shawn and Jason; and enjoying one of the few functions where the families of his father and mother met.
The background of many of these photographs is, in itself, very revealing. At Doria, a rusty looking bike is plastered against the bare wall. The surroundings are spartan and homemade.
And while Meghan has always been smartly dressed – and seems already made for cameras, with her glittering doe eyes, turned nose, and cute pie curls – it's clear that her family has lived frugally.
The origins of his own baby will be light years away from these beginnings.
Putting the album aside for a moment, Mr. Johnson remembers how his family received the amazing news that "their" Little Meghan frequented Prince Harry.
"We were all really stunned. Shocked. Especially Doria. She was so excited.
& # 39; she just said & # 39; my little flower! & # 39; [Doria’s nickname for Meghan]. & # 39; How can this be true? It's amazing. & # 39;
She said, "My flower is going to be a princess, wooh-wooh-wooh!"
Of course, Meghan's integration into the royal family was not entirely simple. In December 2017, Princess Michael of Kent caused an uproar after wearing her blackamoor brooch in the presence of Meghan at a Christmas banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Meghan tries her first spare ribs during a barbecue in the park. According to Johnson: "Meghan is a really wonderful person. I really admire Doria for the way she raised her. She's not scared [to be herself] and I think she's getting that courage from her mother's.
She quickly apologized, but the unsavory episode did not please Mr. Johnson, who had direct experience of racism in his childhood. "When it's something so blatant and fair in your face, I'm still shocked, even at this age, and even though I've experienced a lot racism."
Mr. Johnson is a gentle-mannered man who lives quietly with his wife in a detached bungalow in Fresno, in a sleepy place. However, he gets excited when the conversation turns to the more negative publicity that Meghan has received.
"What you hear in the press – I do not even recognize that person," he says. "Meghan is a really wonderful person. I really admire Doria for the way she raised her. She's not scared [to be herself] and I think she's drawing that courage from her mother.
In the same vein, Mr. Johnson readily admits that Meghan is enjoying his rise from a television star to a globally recognized icon.
"She likes that attention, she went to school, and then to Hollywood, which is a good kind of preparation, so she can handle that," he says. "I read that some of Harry's old friends could not stand all the scrutiny. But from what I heard, after what Doria said about Meghan, she loves it.
"It's great, because it's certainly a very big part of it." [her new role]. The eye of the public. Smiling, he adds, "I could not stand it."
He says he used 62-year-old Doria as a model to raise her own children. And after being slapped by her parents, the most important lesson she's taught her is that hitting hurts a child tremendously. "Meghan has never been hit or harassed," he says. "I saw both sides – the way we were bred and the way it was bred."
The conversation revolves around the wedding of Meghan and Harry. When he and his family did not receive an invitation, Mr. Johnson caustically pointed out that this may have been "lost in the position".
Today, he still does not know why Meghan has even snubbed his most loyal and weighted parents.
His wife, he said, felt "really put off" by the exclusion, and others were also upset, but he just felt "a little sad".
With a shrug, he continued, "My wife was a little angry. You know – 800 guests. But I said, "Okay, we do not have that kind of close relationship right now."
Without any hint of bitterness, he added, "Meghan now has her own friends. They were the ones she invited. I guess you could say that they are the royalty of Hollywood. People have the honor, and that's what his life tells. & # 39;
He and Pamela watched the event on television and he took pictures of the screen on his cell phone. "I have it almost frame by frame," he laughs. "It was the greatest thing that happened in our lives. Wow! For my part, I was delighted despite the fact that I was not invited. I intend to paint this ceiling of the chapel and floors. & # 39;
Uncle Joseph Johnson of Meghan Markle with his wife Pamela. This image features among more than 30 photos from a family album never seen before, presented exclusively to the Daily Mail by Meghan's uncle, Joseph Johnson.
For reasons of its own, Meghan is no longer in contact with the Johnsons, but with almost all members of his family, including of course his father. However, Mr. Johnson has the intuition that "they could get back together". For the new baby, at least, he hopes to be right.
Since the wedding, he has closely followed Meghan's progress through newspapers and magazines, and even keeps an album of his life and time as a duchess.
He applauds the couple's announced decision to bring in his own birth team and restricts the advertisement to the baby's arrival by saying, "They want to do things their way, which is good."
Regarding the sex of the baby, recalling that Meghan grew up in a household dominated by strong and independent women, he states, "I think she probably wants a girl.
"I'm sure Harry wants a boy. A girl would be a real comfort for Meghan. A boy would be. . . more of a challenge. She could be a little more comfortable with a girl.
Given Meghan and Harry's strong desire to use their positions for the public good, Mr. Johnson expects a lot from their child, suggesting that he or she could "assume their passions" and have a positive impact on the world.
In the meantime, he looks forward to the first photographs of his grand-niece or grand-nephew. "I wonder if he will have curly or red hair," he laughs. His curiosity is shared by millions.
Yet, no matter what the royal baby looks like, he will surely be as beautiful as the little girl sitting quietly in the crook of her mother's arm 37 years ago.