Meghan Markle’s claims that a fire broke out in son Archie’s nursery in South Africa have been backed up by a security source.
The insider, who is believed to be close to the Duchess of Sussex and was attached to her security detail during the 10-day tour in 2019, said he personally saw the ‘severely melted’ heater.
He said Meghan received a message that there had been a ‘fire’ and her vehicle ‘broke away’ from the security convoy.
The source told The Citizen that the heater fire at the official residence supplied by the British High Commission was never reported and British police told them to ‘keep it quiet’.
It is the first confirmation that a fire as reported in a podcast by Meghan Markle actually happened after the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office refused to comment.
Meghan Markle’s claims that a fire broke out in son Archie’s nursery in South Africa have been backed up by a security source (pictured in Cape Town on the tour)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured at an engagement in Nyanga shortly before they were informed of the fire
And the source said that when Meghan exited her security vehicle she was ‘scared’ and that she ‘bolted’ into the official residence ‘like every mother would’ if she feared for her baby.
But the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, could not confirm if Archie was in the room or was downstairs as has been claimed.
He said he was part of small team looking after the Duke and Duchess but mainly attached to Meghan helping escort her between the official guest residence and her royal engagements.
The trusted source revealed how the security plan changed as the convoy was returning from an official visit saying: ‘I’m not sure if we came from Nyanga or Monwabisi but there was an event.
‘We were driving in convoy and all of a sudden the convoy with Meghan broke away. We followed after. We weren’t sure what was going on. The Prince was on his way to a thing with the navy’.
Entitled ‘The Misconception of Ambition with Serena Williams’, the Duchess of Sussex spoke to the tennis star in the podcast
The source continued: ‘When we stopped at the residence I can tell you that she didn’t get out of the car like a lady that normally gets out but she bolted into the house.’
After going inside himself he said he was shown the faulty heater.
He said: ‘When we got to the house the house-keeper called me and showed me the heater that was burnt and told me what happened and said the child was not in the room at the time the heater burnt.
‘She said they smelt it, went up and saw the smoke. The house didn’t burn, the room didn’t burn. I didn’t see the fire but I saw the heater when it came out the room. The plastic was severely melted.’
The source said he could not say if Archie was in danger or not when the blaze broke out but confirmed that it was a new heater that had just been purchased just to keep Archie warm.
He added: ‘The fire was not reported. When we were outside we discussed what we were going to do about this. The consensus was “guys this is gonna look bad for us or South Africa or whoever”.
Harry and Meghan watch dancers as they leave the Nyanga Township in Cape Town, South Africa. Meanwhile, back at home, Archie’s bedroom was on fire, she revealed
‘The British police guys actually told us “guys just leave it as it is, don’t talk about this” so we decided not to expose this thing.
‘That’s why we kept quiet back then because we knew we were going to get a backlash.’
He said the royals decided they could no longer live in that residence.
The source added: ‘We immediately moved out of that house to a second place not five minutes away from where we were stationed but none of us were told where they were staying after the fire’.
Markle revealed for the first time the details of the nursery fire almost three years after it happened to tennis legend Serena Williams who was the first guest on her new podcast Archetypes.
She talked about how she felt pressured to continue her royal duties that day and keep an official engagement in Nyanga despite being left ‘shaken and in tears’ and having to leave Archie behind.
The Duchess said: ‘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.
Meghan spoke today of her frustration that she immediately had to do another official engagement after the fire (pictured doing so with Harry later the same day)
Meghan added: ‘We came back. And, of course, 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”.’
The Sussexes had dropped their son off at the housing unit they were staying in for a sleep straight after flying in for their official tour in 2019, with the couple then leaving to kick start their royal visit with their first engagement.
Archie’s then nanny, named only as Lauren – a Zimbabwean who liked to tie him on her back – had taken him downstairs with her instead while she went to get a snack, just as the heater in the nursery caught fire.
Meghan said: ‘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.’
The Duchess described how she wanted to tell people what had happened.
‘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,’ she said. She stressed the need for more understanding of the ‘human moments behind the scenes’.
The Duchess added: ‘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 do another official engagement.’
William replies: ‘I couldn’t have done that.’
Later the same day, the couple had visited Cape Town’s historic District Six neighbourhood, met residents in its Homecoming Centre and heard from people who were forcibly removed to a township during the Apartheid era, with the Sussexes also carrying out an impromptu walkabout.
Meghan and Harry’s controversial African tour took place in the autumn of 2019, just months before they quit as senior working royals.