‘There was a fire in Archie’s room – and we had to go out and do another official engagement’: Meghan Markle tells Archetypes podcast how nursery caught fire during South Africa tour while Sussexes’ son was downstairs
Meghan Markle has revealed how her son Archie narrowly escaped a fire that erupted in his bedroom during the Sussexes’ tour of South Africa. The Duchess, 41, spoke today of her frustration that she immediately had to do another official engagement, wishing that others would have ‘some understanding on the human moments behind the scenes that people might not have any awareness of’.
She made the comments in the first episode of her Archetypes podcast, released today – speaking of her horror at having to ‘leave our baby’ as the drama unfolded while she and Harry were working. The blaze erupted when a heater in his bedroom became ablaze, setting the nursery on fire – though fortunately four-and-a-half month old Archie was downstairs with his nanny at the time when she went to get a snack. But Meghan spoke of the stress the ordeal had on her as a new mother, telling the podcast: ‘In that amount of time that [the nanny] went downstairs, the heater in the nursery caught on fire. 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.’ The former Suits star told how they had dropped their young son at the housing unit they were staying in for a sleep straight after arriving on their official tour, with Meghan and Harry leaving to carry out a visit to the Nyanga township (pictured), where the duchess delivered a speech. ‘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,’ she said.
‘As a mother, you go, ‘Oh, my God, what?’ Everyone’s in tears, everyone’s shaken. And what do we have to do? Go out and do another official engagement. I said, “this doesn’t make any sense. Can you just tell people what happened?” And I think the focus ends up being on how it looks instead of how it feels. 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.’
The terrifying incident was unearthed in the first episode of Meghan’s Archetypes podcast, available on Spotify. Entitled The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams, Meghan talks to her close friend and tennis superstar Williams about the double standards women face when they are labeled ‘ambitious’. The Duchess of Sussex, 41, and the sports champion, 40, share personal stories about the struggles they felt as new mothers. Speaking about ambition to Williams, Meghan says: ‘I don’t even remember hearing the negative connotations for the word ambition until I started dating my now husband.’
The Archewell foundation announced earlier this year that the couple’s Spotify podcast would finally debut this summer – 18 months after inking the lucrative deal. ‘Archetypes’ is hosted by Meghan who will speak to historians, experts and woman who have experienced being typecast. In a trailer for the Archewell Audio project, the duchess said: ‘This is how we talk about women: the words that raise our girls, and how the media reflects women back to us. But where do these stereotypes come from? And how do they keep showing up and defining our lives?’.
The duchess, previewing the type of guests who will feature, added: ‘This is Archetypes – the podcast where we dissect, explore and subvert the labels that try to hold women back. ‘I’ll have conversations with women who know all too well how these typecasts shape our narratives. And I’ll talk to historians to understand how we even got here in the first place.’ Meghan and Harry signed a lucrative deal with the audio streaming giant to host and produce podcasts, estimated to be worth around £18million ($21million), in late 2020. But they had only released one show so far – a holiday special featuring their son Archie and celebrity guests.
Spotify and Archewell Audio said: ‘Spotify and Archewell Audio both value responsible stewardship of the audio landscape, and as explained recently, are committed to working closely to support transparency and strong principles of trust and safety.’ Meghan has long been a campaigner on female empowerment. Spotify and Archewell Audio described her conversations with typecast women as ‘uncensored’ and said the duchess would delve into the origins of stereotypes. Former Suits actress Meghan is also an executive producer on the series, along with Ben Browning, Archewell’s head of content, and Rebecca Sananes, Archewell’s head of audio. The podcast is being produced by Archewell Audio in partnership with Gimlet Media for Spotify.
Harry also makes an appearance in the episode, with Meghan saying: ‘You wanna come say hi? Look who just popped in.’ Meghan and Williams greet Harry with ‘Hello’ in British accents, with Harry telling Williams: ‘I like what you’ve done with your hair. That’s a great vibe.’ Williams replies: ‘Thank you. Good to see you too as always, I miss you guys.’ The duke responds ‘Well come and see us’, with Meghan saying they will make a plan. As Harry leaves, Meghan remarks: ‘Thanks my love.’