Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle's new children's book The Bench celebrates fathers and sons

Publisher Random House calls the book a portrait of “the special relationship between fathers and sons, through a mother's eyes.”

The Associated Press June 09, 2021 19:58:13 IST
Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle's new children's book The Bench celebrates fathers and sons

The book publishes on 8 June. (AP Photo, left, and Random House Children's Books via AP)

The first children's book by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is a multicultural tribute to fatherhood.

The Bench, a picture story published on Tuesday by Random House Children's Books, celebrates the bond between Meghan's husband Prince Harry and son Archie and fathers and sons in general. Markle's rhyming narrative is complemented by illustrator Christian Robinson's watercolour images, showing families of different skin colours and backgrounds, from a light-skinned soldier returning home (Harry served in Afghanistan) to a dark-skinned man in dreadlocks, from a boy carrying a soccer trophy to a boy and his father wearing pink tutus.

Fathers are seen as buddies, teachers, consolers and cheerleaders. Random House calls the book a portrait of “the special relationship between fathers and sons, through a mother's eyes.” The image of the bench serves as a symbol of stability and comfort, starting with a drawing of Harry holding his baby son on a bench, two dogs nearby.

Markle's opening stanza:

"This is your bench

Where life will begin

For you and our son

Our baby, our kin"

The book's jacket describes Meghan, the actor formerly known as Meghan Markle, as “a mother, wife, feminist, and activist,” committed to “activating compassion in communities across the world. She currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens.” In announcing The Bench last month, she said it began as a Father's Day poem written a month after Archie's birth, in 2019.

“That poem became this story," said Meghan, who dedicated the book to “the man and the boy who made my heart go pump-pump.”

Publication of The Bench comes four days after the birth of the couple's second child, Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, named in part for Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose family nickname is Lilibet, and his late mother, Princess Diana. Meghan was pregnant with Lilibet while working on the book and the final illustration shows Harry and Archie, now a toddler, at the family's chicken coop. Meghan is in the garden on the opposite page, wearing a sun hat, holding an infant in a sling.

Her final stanza:

"Right there on your bench

The place you'll call home

With daddy and son

Where you'll never be 'lone"

Meghan and Harry announced last year they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, their reasons including the racist attitudes of the British media. In a TV interview in March with Oprah Winfrey, they described unnerving comments about how dark Archie’s skin might be before his birth and Meghan talked about isolation so intense she contemplated suicide.

The British press so far has offered a mixed verdict on her book. The Telegraph labeled it “The Duchess of Sussex's semi-literate vanity project” while the Evening Standard called her writing “soothing, loving, although a little schmaltzy in places.”

“The biggest statement to the family the Sussexes have left behind comes from the line ‘You’ll tell him “I love you”, Those words always spoken,’" reviewer Emily Phillips writes in the Evening Standard. “While Harry’s father Prince Charles famously once said, ‘whatever in love means’ about his new bride Diana, we’re being told that Harry will be telling their children he loves them a million times a day just like the rest of us.”

Updated Date:

also read

Having evolved over millions of years to help us survive, how our body clock determines immunity
Lifestyle

Having evolved over millions of years to help us survive, how our body clock determines immunity

Research spanning over half a century now shows our bodies actually respond differently at day and night.

Author RJ Palacio’s next book Pony, about facing the fear of being left alone, to be published this September
Arts & Culture

Author RJ Palacio’s next book Pony, about facing the fear of being left alone, to be published this September

The story of a young boy’s “harrowing yet distinctively beautiful journey” in the mid-1800s, Pony is Palacio’s first novel that doesn’t feature characters from Wonder.

California reopens with festivities, jackpots after deadly winter surge in COVID-19 infections and long lockdown
Arts & Culture

California reopens with festivities, jackpots after deadly winter surge in COVID-19 infections and long lockdown

At midnight, California lifted most of is pandemic restrictions, meaning no more state rules on physical distancing or capacity limits.