Meghan Markle opened up about a terrifying incident that involved her son Archie, a fire and the restrictive pains of royal obligation. The actress and mom-of-two shared her story during the inaugural episode of her podcast Archetypes, which is available on Spotify.
Markle explained to her guest Serena Williams that, while on a South Africa tour in 2019, she was instructed to leave her baby Archie in a housing unit while she was sent to an official engagement with Prince Harry. “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?” she recounted. The couple arrived back to find their nanny in 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’…her instinct was like, Let me just bring him with me before I put him down,” Markle explained. “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.”
It was a horrifying moment for the former royal. “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.'”
She asked if they could skip the engagement and explain to the people involved what had happened, but that idea was shot down. It gave Markle a real sense of how important optics are in that world. “The focus ends up being on how it looks instead of how it feels,” she said.
Williams had her own story about optics, sharing — for the first time publicly — that the night before the 2018 French Open, her daughter Olympia fell out of her high chair and broke her wrist. She rushed her to the hospital and spent all night with the little one, trying to soothe her.
“I remember holding her the whole night and just like rocking her to sleep and I just didn’t let her out of my sight at that point … [I]’m hard on myself, and I’m a little bit of a perfectionist,” Williams said. “But I was so mad at myself for even allowing that to happen. So I think I got like 30 minutes of sleep and then I had to go play this match. And I’m just thinking, how am I going to play?”
The tennis star won the next day — wearing that fierce catsuit to boot — and the world would never know the pains she had gone through the previous night.
We can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for Markle to go through that awful incident in South Africa. And we’re completely in awe of Williams after she shared her own painful behind-the-scenes story on parenting. It just confirms that mothers are superheroes who put their children first and still manage to show up for the other things happening in their lives … even when they shouldn’t have to.