“Meghan had friends and her mom around while Harry remained in England,” a source tells PEOPLE

By Erin Hill
January 31, 2020 05:26 PM
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When Meghan Markle returned to Canada alone earlier this month as Prince Harry remained in the U.K. to finalize the details of their exit from royal life, she didn’t come back to an empty house.

“Meghan had friends and her mom around while Harry remained in England,” a source tells PEOPLE.

Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, has been spending time with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson Archie while the young family stays on Vancouver Island.

“She definitely gets a lot of her strength from her mother,” says a friend.

Ragland, a social worker and yoga instructor who lives in Los Angeles, also spent the holidays with Meghan and Harry in the weeks leading up to the couple’s announcement that they are stepping down as senior royals. And she’s been an important source of support ever since.

The first-time grandmother “says Meghan is strong and will always be okay,” a source who occasionally crosses paths with Ragland previously told PEOPLE.

Doria Ragland and Meghan Markle
| Credit: Splash

The characteristics that inspire Meghan’s steady confidence were plain to see for those who met Ragland at the royal wedding in May 2018.

“She has a softness, but I detected a steely core to her,” a royal family friend said of Ragland.

She drew plaudits for being a strong and solo role model as she accompanied her daughter to church on her wedding day. And now she’s by her daughter’s side as she embarks on motherhood.

“She and Meghan are so close,” the friend said. “Harry really gets on well with her too. Any new mom wants her own mom around at this time, so it’s great.”

Doria Ragland and Meghan Markle
| Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty

In a sweet 2014 Mother’s Day post on Meghan’s former lifestyle blog The Tig, she praised thanked her mom for serving as a role model.

“She was keeping me safe. She was teaching me to take care of my body. She was introducing me to history, and fostering a love of being outdoors. She was planting the seed for me to become a foodie. She was showing me how to be a daughter, not just in that moment, but for when I became that grown woman. For right now. And thirty years from now. She was loving me. So tightly,” Meghan wrote.

Meghan has also been surrounded by the support of close friends who have come to visit her in Canada. She was all smiles as she drove to pick up pal Heather Dorak, a pilates instructor in L.A., earlier this month at Victoria International Airport. Her former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer also visited and went on a New Year’s Day hike with Meghan and Harry. Actress Janina Gavankar snapped the adorable photo of Archie that appeared on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s holiday card. And Meghan’s good friend Jessica Mulroney, who lives in Toronto, has also come to see her and Archie.

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Meghan and Harry’s desire to have a normal family life played a huge role in their decision to step down as senior royals. When Archie was born, the couple’s focus shifted even more to “doing what’s right for their family,” another friend previously told PEOPLE.