Meghan Markle’s Biggest ‘Archetypes’ Revelations in Her Own Words

It was one of the most ambitious podcast releases of the year, and Meghan Markle’s first Archetypes season delivered on its stated aim to “dissect, explore and subvert the labels that try to hold women back” over 12 in-depth episodes.

From unpacking the power of ambition with Serena Williams to being called out for her “diva” antics by Mariah Carey, the show created a buzz around every episode—even if its position on the charts varied from week to week.

As Markle’s first solo project under her multimillion-dollar content creation deal with streaming giant Spotify, Archetypes provided the royal with a platform to not only further her cause-driven activism but also to share with the public her life experiences in her own voice.

As Archetypes wraps its season finale, Newsweek looks at Markle’s biggest podcast revelations in her own words.

Meghan Markle 'Archetypes' Podcast Top Revelations
Meghan Markle photographed on an official visit to Ireland, July 10, 2018. And (inset) cover art for the duchess’ “Archetypes” podcast. The series aimed to “dissect, explore, and subvert the labels that try to hold women back,” over 12 in-depth episodes.
Geoff Pugh – WPA Pool/Getty Images/Archewell/Spotify

1. A Fire in Archie’s Nursery

Kicking off her podcast series with a bang, the inaugural episode of Archetypes featured a conversation between Markle and longtime friend and tennis star Serena Williams.

Markle discussed her 2019 royal tour of South Africa with Prince Harry, on which they were accompanied by their son, 4-month-old Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

Markle revealed a dramatic event that unfolded behind the scenes early in their stay in Cape Town, where a fire broke out in the nursery where Archie was to sleep.

In Markle’s words:

“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. What?

“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…Lauren in floods of 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.’

“And she was from Zimbabwe, and we loved that she would always tie him on her, her back with a mud cloth, and her instinct was like, ‘Let me just bring him with me before I put him down.’

“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.

“And 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.”

2. Negatively Ambitious

The central theme of the first episode with Williams was the “ambitious” archetype.

During her discussion with her friend, who spoke of her experiences with the term, both positive and negative, Markle said that she did not consider the negative connotations of the word until it started being applied to her after her relationship with Prince Harry became public.

In Markle’s words:

“I don’t remember ever personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious until I started dating my now husband.

“And um, apparently ambition is, uh…a terrible, terrible thing, for a woman that is, according to some.

“So since I’ve felt the negativity behind it, it’s really hard to unfeel it. I can’t unsee it, either, in the millions of girls and women who make themselves smaller—so much smaller—on a regular basis.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wedding Day
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle photographed on their wedding day at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, on May 19, 2018.
Ben STANSALL – WPA Pool/Getty Images

3. Not Treated as a ‘Black Woman’ Until Harry

The second episode saw Markle discuss the archetypal trope of the “diva” with songstress Mariah Carey.

The couple’s conversations turned to race and their experiences as biracial women on the world stage. Markle confided to Carey that she never felt the negative impact of being treated as a “Black woman” until she married into the royal family, because until then she had been seen as a “mixed woman.”

In Markle’s words:

“I think for us it’s very different because we’re light-skinned. You’re not treated as a Black woman. You’re not treated as a white woman. You sort of fit in between.

“I mean, if there’s any time in my life that it’s been more focused on my race, it’s only once I started dating my husband. Then I started to understand what it was like to be treated like a Black woman.

“Because up until then, I had been treated like a mixed woman. And things really shifted.”

4. ‘Diva Moment’ With Mariah Carey

In a moment that left Markle audibly flustered, Carey called out the royal for her “diva moments” after she tried to distance herself from embracing her diva within.

“It’s not something that I connect to,” Markle said. Carey then interjected, “You give us diva moments sometimes, Meghan.”

At the end of the show, Markle addressed this moment as she considered her response to being seen as a diva.

In Markle’s words:

“It was all going swimmingly, I mean really well. Until that moment happened, which, I don’t know about you, but it stopped me in my tracks…when she called me a diva!

“You couldn’t see me, obviously, but I, I started to sweat a little bit. I started squirming in my chair in this quiet revolt. Like, Wait, wait, no, what? How? But? How could you? That’s not true, that’s not…. Why would you say that?

“My mind genuinely was just spinning with what nonsense she must have read or clicked on to make her say that. I just kept thinking, in that moment: Was my girl crush coming to a quick demise? Does she actually not see me?

“So she must have felt my nervous laughter, and you all would’ve heard it too.

“And she jumped right in to make sure I was crystal clear. When she said diva, she was talking about the way that I dress, the posture, the clothing, the quote unquote fabulousness, as she sees it. She meant diva as a compliment. But I heard it as a dig.”

Mariah Carey 'Archetypes' Interview
Mariah Carey performs in Las Vegas on September 11, 2018. The pop star appeared on Meghan Markle’s “Archetypes” podcast to discuss the label “diva.”
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

5. Markle’s ‘Ugly Duckling’ Childhood

The third episode of Archetypes centered on the archetype of the “singleton,” and to discuss this Marklen welcomed Mindy Kaling to the podcast.

Discussing their childhoods and school experiences, Markle said that despite the image of herself that many may be familiar with today, she grew up feeling very insecure about her looks and so channeled her efforts into being “the smart one.”

In Markle’s words:

Kaling: “Were you not the pretty one growing up?”
Markle: “No. Oh God, no.”
Kaling: “What?”
Markle:No. Nuh-uh.”
Kaling: “That is news to me.”
Markle: “Ugly duckling.”
Kaling: “No way.”
Markle: “Yeah…like tons. Look, maybe not conventional beauty as it…now, maybe that would be seen as beautiful, but massive, frizzy curly hair and a huge gap in my teeth…. I was the smart one. Forever and ever and ever and ever. And…then just sort of grew up.”
Markle: “I never had anyone to sit with at lunch. I, I was always a little bit of a loner and really shy and didn’t know where I fit in. And so I just became, I was like: OK, well then I’ll become the president of the Multicultural Club and the president of sophomore class and the president of this and French club. And by doing that, I had meetings at lunchtime.”

6. Harry’s Mental Health Lifeline

The fifth Archetypes episode, “The Decoding of Crazy,“featured a raw discussion with actress Deepika Padukone about mental health and the importance of getting professional help.

During this conversation, Markle revealed that she had sought mental health help from someone whom Harry had put her in contact with during her struggles. She addressed this in her landmark 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

In Markle’s words:

“My husband had found a referral for me to call. And I called this woman—she didn’t know I was even calling her. And she was checking out at the grocery store. I could hear the little beep, beep….

“And I was like ‘hi’ and I’m introducing myself and that you can literally hear her going, ‘Wait, sorry…I’m just…Who is this?’ Um and [I’m] saying, ‘I need help.’

“And she could hear the dire state that I was in. But I think it’s for all of us to be really honest about what it is that you need and to not be afraid to make peace with that, to ask for it.”

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Baby Archie
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor are seen during a visit to South Africa on September 25, 2019. The duchess discussed on her podcast a change in the way people perceived her after going public with her relationship with Harry.
Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

7. Briefcase Girl

Introducing a special episode on the archetype of the “bimbo” with guest Paris Hilton, Markle spoke about being valued for her physical appearance to the detriment of her intellectual abilities.

At the top of the show, Markle discussed her time as a “briefcase girl” on the hit game show Deal or No Deal, in which she appeared from 2006 to 2007.

Markle said she felt the show’s requirements were “solely about beauty and not necessarily about brains,” something which affected her sense of identity.

In Markle’s words:

“I ended up quitting the show. Like I said, I was thankful for the job, but not for how it made me feel. Which was…not smart.

“And by the way, I was surrounded by smart women on that stage with me. But that wasn’t the focus of why we were there. And I would end up leaving with this pit in my stomach, knowing that I was so much more than what was being objectified on the stage.”

8. Misjudging Paris Hilton

During her interview with Hilton, Markle discussed her admiration for Hilton while growing up, which was tinged with elements of jealousy and judgment about her airhead-heiress persona.

Summing up the episode, the royal reflected on this preconceived judgment, which she admitted she carried through into her conversation with Hilton.

In Markle’s words:

“I’m embarrassed to admit it…I had a judgment about Paris. And I don’t like having judgment. It doesn’t feel good. But I had to be real about that. Because when I grew up, she was beautiful, rich and famous. What could possibly be wrong with her life? I would think.

“And because my entire sense of self-confidence was wrapped up in being the smart one and not the pretty one, I found the way to project all of my judgment and envy onto her…

“In our conversation, I found her to be refreshing. And look, I know she’s made
mistakes. I’ve heard about some of them, others not. This is not to be framed as the defense of Paris Hilton. But it is the humanization of her. Because that’s where we leave judgments at the door. That’s when we can see a woman behind the archetype. I’m sorry for having judged her. I didn’t know her.”

9. Forty-Three Percent Nigerian

In the seventh Archetypes episode, Markle examined the label of the “angry Black woman” while talking with actress Issa Rae and talk show host Ziwe.

Speaking with Ziwe, Markle disclosed her foray into genealogical research, in which she learned she was of Nigerian descent.

In Markle’s words:

Markle: “I just had my genealogy done a couple of years ago.”
Ziwe: “What are you?”
Markle: “Forty-three percent Nigerian.”
Ziwe: “No way!… Are you really serious?”
Markle: “Yeah!”
Ziwe: “Oh, this is huge! Igbo, yoruba, do we know?”
Markle: “So I mean, I’m going to start to dig deeper into all of this because anyone that I’ve told, especially Nigerian women, are just like, What!”

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry attending Platinum Jubilee
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II on June 3.
Matt Dunham – WPA Pool/Getty Images

10. Being Clear ‘Does Not Make You Difficult’

Also in the seventh Archetypes episode, Markle discussed with Rae her insecurities over asserting herself in a society that often marginalizes women in power.

Markle has been accused of bullying by former staffers and was labeled “Duchess Difficult” by the U.K. press during her time as a working royal. In an apparent nod to this label, she made clear her stance on what people often mean when they say difficult.

In Markle’s words:

“I will find myself cowering and tiptoeing into a room where, I don’t know if you do the thing that I find the most embarrassing, when you’re saying a sentence but the intonation goes up like it’s a question?

“And I was just like: Oh, my God, stop, stop whispering and tiptoeing around it. Just say what it is that you need. You’re allowed to set a boundary. You’re allowed to be clear.

“It does not make you demanding. It does not make you difficult. Makes you clear.”

11. ‘Don’t Give Up Your Activism’

In one of the final Archetypes episodes, “The Audacity of the Activist,” Markle disclosed a personal message conveyed to her by an “influential” woman before her marriage into the royal family.

Following a conversation with Iranian actress and activist Shohreh Aghdashloo, the duchess reflected on her motivations for speaking out for the causes that she has chosen.

In Markle’s words:

“As Shohreh shared her closing thoughts in Farsi, it reminded me of a message that was shared with me just a few days before my wedding by a very influential and inspiring woman.

“Who for her own privacy I won’t share who it was with you, but she said to me: ‘I know that your life is changing, but please don’t give up your activism. Don’t give up, because it means so much to women and girls.’

“And I kept doing the work for women and girls because it matters. Yes. But also because she encouraged me to do so. And the collective voice of all of us telling each other that matters is perhaps the point. There’s safety in numbers. But there’s also strength in numbers.”

12. ‘There Will Be No Reality Show!’

In the season finale of Archetypes, Markle flipped the female-led narrative of the show, instead listening to men on the tropes and labels applied to women. Her guests were Trevor Noah, Judd Apatow and Andy Cohen.

In a discussion of the Real Housewives franchise with Cohen, the executive producer raised persistent rumors that she would one day be joining the cast, something Markle lightheartedly squashed.

In Markle’s words:

Markle: “When you talk about representation it is no small number of women on this show. We are talking hundreds, literally over 200 women around the world as part of this franchise. And apparently at some point people thought Andy should maybe add one more to the mix….”
Cohen: “What did you think? Because it had to have bubbled up to you somewhere that you moved to the States and everyone is like, ‘Oh, she should join the Beverly Hills housewives?’ I’m like, ‘She ain’t joining the Beverly Hills housewives, everybody. She’s Meghan Markle!'”
Markle: “I never heard that. You mean really that this is my audition for the Real Housewives in Montecito? Is this the moment?”
Cohen: “You don’t have to audition, we’ll build the show around you. How about that?”
Markle: “There will be no reality show!”

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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