As she joined the Royal Family on the steps of St George’s Chapel to wave the newlyweds off on their carriage ride through Windsor, the new Duchess of Sussex’s mother finally looked at ease.
Only the most stony-hearted viewers could have felt anything but a pang of empathy for Doria Ragland when she took her seat in the chapel earlier that morning, awaiting the arrival of her only daughter, the bride.
“She looks so lonely!” viewers the world over cried as the camera lingered on her face, which was understandably full of emotion. Prince Harry leaned forward, trying to catch his new mother-in-law’s eye, presumably hoping to offer her some reassurance. On his side of the quire, of course, the seats were filled with more than 20 members of his own family, on hers, a smattering of her daughter’s celebrity friends were all that were there to bolster her.
But outside, after the ceremony, her armed linked with that of the Prince of Wales - who had stepped in at the last minute to accompany her daughter for the final few strides down the aisle - Doria took her place in the fold of The Firm.
But who is the woman who stole the nation’s hearts on Saturday, and what sort of role is she expected to play in royal life?
In official photos released today, it was quite clear that Prince Harry, his new wife and her mother - with whom she is known to be incredibly close - are already a unit. Standing proudly next to her daughter, her new son-in-law smiling on the other side of her, the three of them seem such a happy team.
Though she will be living thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, Doria is expected to play an important role in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s lives, especially as they take their places as global ambassadors for the Royal Family.
Doria has, until now, gone under the radar, choosing not to give any interviews about her famous daughter. Unlike her ex-husband, she has managed to avoid speaking to the press, or being constantly photographed by paparazzi in LA.
There has been speculation for a couple of weeks that she may be about to break her silence and give a TV interview to Oprah Winfrey, whose house she was seen arriving at earlier this month, and who was among the guests on Saturday. The Sun reported yesterday that she planned to film part of the interview while she is here in London.
It would certainly be seen as a break with tradition if she were to give an interview (to date, the only member of the Royal Family to have given such an interview is Sarah Ferguson) but as the royal commentator Hugo Vickers points out: “If it’s necessary to give one interview, that’s probably the one to do, though she’s done so brilliantly she doesn’t need to.”
It is in many ways a tricky line to tread. To return to normal life and fade into the background, or to embrace the public profile you never expected to have?
In the past, new royal in-laws would tend to fade into the background after the wedding, but since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s marriage in 2011, Carole and Michael Middleton have been seen a number of times at royal events. The Queen made a point of inviting them to join her at Ascot just a couple of weeks after the wedding, prompting some speculation that an invitation may be extended to Doria to attend a garden party being held at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday in celebration of Prince Charles’s 70th birthday.
Hugo Vickers says the efforts clearly being made by the Royal Family on Saturday to make Doria feel welcome are an indication of the genuine good feeling between the two families. “The way the whole thing was done was very inclusive, with Prince Charles stepping in to give her away. They obviously all get on very well privately.”
She won’t, it is thought, be granted a coat of arms, as the Middletons were after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married. Reports suggest that the Duchess of Sussex will receive her own coat of arms, but that the honour won’t be bestowed on her family. But for Doria - a social worker and yoga teacher from California - the tribute might seem a little archaic in any case.
Could Doria have a role in helping her daughter and son-in-law in their efforts as global ambassadors for the Commonwealth? Last year, the Royal Commonwealth Society announced its plans to open a branch in the United States, with a view to one day bringing America into the fold as an “associate member”.
As it may prove difficult for her daughter to visit her frequently at home in California, could Doria accompany the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a US tour, designed to reinforce the special relationship?
What is rather more likely, experts feel, is that Doria will quietly “return to her private life”, focus on being a support to her daughter, whether on the end of a phone or on regular trips to London.
And, presumably, like most mothers, eagerly await news of grandchildren she can dote on.