On the debut of her Spotify podcast, ‘Archetypes’, Meghan Markle shared a terrifying story about an experience she had with her son, Archie.
On the debut of her Spotify podcast, Archetypes, Meghan Markle shared a terrifying story about an experience she had with her son, Archie, when she was on a royal tour of Africa in 2019. Sitting down with her friend and tennis GOAT Serena Williams, Meghan opened up about a fire that broke out where her son was sleeping, and the face she had to put on for the world after.
"When we went on our tour to South Africa, we landed with Archie," the mom of two shared with her long-time friend, Serena. "Archie was what, four and a half months old. And the moment we landed, we had to drop him off at this housing unit that they had had us staying in."
At that time, Meghan and her husband Prince Harry, were still working members of the royal family. The trip to Africa was the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes first official tour as a new family. A 10-day, multi-country tour just four months after welcoming her child, and at a time where there was intense media attention on her.
Meghan and Harry left Archie in the care of his nanny as they went to their first engagement. “He was going to get ready to go down for his nap,” Meghan explained on her podcast. “We immediately went to an official engagement in this township called Nyanga, and there was this moment where I'm standing on a tree stump and I'm giving this speech to women and girls, and we finish the engagement, we get in the car and they say, 'There's been a fire at the residence.' What? 'There's been a fire in the baby's room.' What?"
Meghan said that she and Harry rushed back to where her son was and were met with Lauren, their “amazing nanny,” who was “in a flood of tears.”
"She was supposed to put Archie down for his nap, and she just said, 'You know what? Let me just go get a snack downstairs.' And she was from Zimbabwe, and we loved that she would always tie him on her, her back with a mud cloth, and her instinct was like, 'Let me just bring him with me before I put him down.' In that amount of time that she went downstairs, the heater in the nursery caught on fire,” Meghan recalled.
“There was no smoke detector. Someone happened to just smell smoke down the hallway, went in, fire extinguished. He was supposed to be sleeping in there."
Thankfully—thankfully—there were no injuries. But a close call like that — especially one caused by a normal household product — really weighs on a parent’s heart and anxiety. But, because of the intense pressure Meghan was under at the time, and the royal family’s expectation of duty and “putting on a face” the parents had to push on with their schedule.
"I was like, 'Can you just tell people what happened?' And so much, I think, optically. The focus ends up being on how it looks instead of how it feels," Meghan shared with Serena and her listeners. "And part of the humanizing and the breaking through of these labels and these archetypes and these boxes that we're put into is having some understanding on the human moments behind the scenes that people might not have any awareness of and to give each other a break. Because we did — we had to leave our baby."
She added, "And even though we were being moved to another place afterwards, we still had to leave him and go do another official engagement."
A lot of us parents can probably empathize with Meghan—and can imagine how hard it would have been in that moment to have to leave Archie again. Serena did, too, telling Meghan, "I couldn't have done that. I would have said, 'Uh-uh.' "
But most of us will never understand the feeling of having the pressure of the world on our shoulders like Meghan had — especially at that time.
"These human moments behind the scenes, the ones under the surface… they're everything,” Meghan said on her podcast. “Because when we don't swim in the shallow end, and instead choose to dive into the deep end, that's when we gain a more nuanced understanding of each other."