Meghan Markle Reveals Archie's Room Caught on Fire During the Sussexes' Royal Tour


Harry and Meghan with baby Archie
(Image credit: Getty)

On the first episode of her new podcast, Archetypes, Meghan Markle shared a horrifying story that happened with baby Archie during the Duke and Duchess of Sussex' royal tour of South Africa in 2019.

While she was at it, she took the opportunity to indirectly criticize the Royal Firm for putting optics before people.

"When we went on our tour to South Africa, we landed with Archie—Archie was, what, four and a half months old?" Markle explained to her guest and friend Serena Williams.

"The moment we landed, we had to drop him off at this housing unit that they had had us staying in," she explained. "He was going to get ready to go down for his nap. We immediately went for an engagement in this township called Nyanga."

The engagement went smoothly, but things devolved from there. "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?" the duchess continued.

At this point in the story, Markle's voice became emotional as she recalled, "And so we're in the car—we had just landed, what, an hour or two hours before—racing back, we get back, our amazing nanny Lauren, who we'd had all the way until in Canada, here, Lauren in floods of tears, she was supposed to put Archie down for his nap, and she said, 'You know what, let me just go and get a snack downstairs'—Lauren's from Zimbabwe and we loved that she would always tie him on her back with a mudcloth, and her instinct was like, 'Let me just bring him with me before I put him down.'"


(Image credit: Getty Images)

The duchess continued, "In that amount of time that she 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!"

After telling this story, the duchess related it back to her experience as part of the Royal Family, and how it didn't sit well with her.

"And we came back, and of course as a mother you go, 'Oh my God, what just...' Everyone's in tears, everyone's shaken," she said. "What did we have to do? Go out and do another official engagement."

The duchess, shaken, wanted to cancel, but was told they couldn't.

"I said, 'This doesn't make any sense. Can you just tell people what happened?'" she recalled. "And so much I think optically, 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."

She concluded, "Because we did, we had to leave our baby! And even though we were being moved into another place afterwards, we still had to leave him, and go and do another official engagement!"

Williams, who sounded shocked throughout the story, told the duchess that she couldn't have done it if it were her.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.