Meghan Markle Recalls a Fire in Baby Archie’s Room on an Early Trip to South Africa

The duchess described the harrowing story to Serena Williams in the first episode of her new podcast, Archetypes
Meghan Markle
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Whatever I was expecting to hear from Meghan Markle’s inaugural episode of her new podcast, Archetypes, it was not a harrowing story about baby Archie’s miraculous escape when a fire unexpectedly broke out in his nursery in 2019. The Duchess of Sussex told her guest and friend Serena Williams about the whole terrifying incident during a conversation about feminism and motherhood. 

“When we went on our tour to South Africa, we landed with Archie,” who was about four months old at the time, Markle explained, “and the moment we landed, we had to drop him off at this housing unit they had us staying in.” As baby Archie was getting ready for his nap, Meghan and Harry were immediately whisked away for an official engagement. “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.’”

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Markle told Williams, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe we haven’t talked about this,” before explaining how she and Prince Harry raced back to the residence where they found their “amazing nanny Lauren,” who was in “floods of tears.” Apparently, right before putting the baby down to sleep, Lauren decided to grab a quick snack and carried Archie with her. And in that time, the heater in the nursery caught fire. “He was supposed to be sleeping in there,” Markle said. But even though everyone was (naturally!) shaken and in tears, Meghan and Harry still had to turn around and go to their next official engagement. “I think, optically, the focus ends up being on how it looks instead of how it feels,” Markle said.

This is something Williams obviously understands, having just described her own story of a terrifying parenting moment colliding with a public career moment. The day before the tennis match when Williams wore the infamous catsuit, she told Markle that her daughter, Olympia, had fallen from her high chair and fractured her wrist—resulting in a sleepless, worried night before an important match—which Williams somehow still managed to win.

Let this be a lesson to us all. You never know what moms, including Meghan Markle and Serena Wiliams, are going through behind the scenes.