Meghan Markle today announced she has written a children’s book called The Bench, which is inspired by Prince Harry and her son Archie and is illustrated with pictures of a red-headed soldier.
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, said the book was inspired by a poem she had written for Harry after Archie was born and would explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’.
The story, set for release on June 8, will be illustrated by bestselling artist Christian Robinson, with Meghan saying she wanted the story to be told through an ‘inclusive lens’.
The Duchess said in a statement: ‘The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born.
‘That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.
‘My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.’
The Duchess of Sussex said the book would explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’
Illustrations for the book – by the artist Christian Robinson – include a red-headed soldier. It will be released on June 8
Another illustration from The Bench, the debut children’s book written by the Duchess of Sussex based on her own experiences
Photos from inside the book shows a boy being lifted into the air by a red-haired man in military uniform as a woman weeps from the window.
The words accompanying the picture say: ‘Looking out at My Love and our beautiful boy.
‘And here in the window I’ll have tears of joy’.
Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside.
The words say: ‘From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy’.
A media release reads: ‘Inspired by her own husband and son, The Duchess of Sussex’s debut touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.
‘Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Bench gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.’
The press statement described the Duchess of Sussex as a ‘mother, wife, feminist, and activist’ who ‘currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens’.
Meghan previously wrote a blog, The Tig, and has also penned an article for Time magazine. Her other publishing experience includes guest editing Vogue in September 2019.
The Bench’s illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan’s home state of California and has previously worked with Sesame Street and Pixar.
Other royals to have written books include Prince Charles, who penned A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (1989) and a children’s book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, in 1989.
The Queen’s first cousin, Princess Michael of Kent, has written several historical novels and the autobiographical A Cheetah’s Tale, about her early life travelling Africa and raising a cheetah cub.
The book is published by Penguin Random House and will be released on June 8.
Meghan said in a statement: ‘The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born’
It comes as a royal expert warned that new chapters of the Sussexes’ biography, Finding Freedom, would expose sensitive information including ‘intimate details’ of conversations at Prince Phillip’s funeral.
An updated version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s biography by authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand is set to be released this summer.
The first edition was published on August 11 last year and painted a flattering picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from when they met in 2016 to their departure from the Firm in early 2020.
According to The Sunday Times, it is now being updated with new chapters which will cover their tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, the allegations that Meghan, 39, bullied royal staff – which she denies – and the death of Prince Philip.
Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story, warned there will be ‘no chance’ of a reconciliation if the book divulges more negative information about the royals or in-depth details of any personal conversations between Harry and his family after the funeral.
‘That really will be the final straw,’ he told Closer magazine. ‘That’ll be it – there will be no chance of a reconciliation ever and all trust will be broken.
‘How could anyone from the Royal Family trust them again if the intimate details of conversations were leaked. Why would they want anything more to do with them? Those chapters will be extremely telling as to the state of the royal rift as it stands now, and to where it’ll head in the future.’
The updated Finding Freedom, which is also expected to discuss their multi-million pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, their new life in California and the Queen’s decision to strip them of their royal patronages including Harry’s military roles, will go on sale on August 5.
It comes as a royal expert warned that new chapters of the Sussexes’ biography, Finding Freedom, (right) would expose sensitive information including ‘intimate details’ of conversations at Prince Phillip’s funeral (left)
It was hoped that Harry and his brother William would start to build bridges following the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, but the reissue of Finding Freedom is only likely to aggravate tension between the Sussexes and the Firm, it has been claimed.
‘The Oprah interview detonated a bomb under the Royal Family and most of them are still reeling in shock. The book will not help,’ a senior courtier told The Sunday Times.
Another senior royal source added: ‘After Oprah, what else is there to say?’
While he admitted it ‘makes sense’ for there to be more chapters to address unanswered questions about the Oprah interview, what was said to Gayle King and what was said in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, Duncan added that he hopes the recent rebuilding of bridges will have deterred the Sussexes from worsening the rift.
‘Whatever’s said will be a bombshell – everyone is just so gripped by the situation,’ he told Closer.
‘But we have to hope Harry and Meghan have been encouraged by the recent progress made during Harry’s trip to the UK… so that they don’t do any more damage.’
He added that if it appears Harry and Meghan have worked with the authors this time and made negative claims or revealed private discussions, it could be ‘over for them’ with the Firm.
‘If the content isn’t vague or neutral, it could cause another huge fallout,’ Duncan warned.
Last week Duncan claimed Harry was ‘hurt and angry’ over how his wife was treated by the Royal Family and used their Oprah Winfrey interview to ‘get it out’ – but is now ‘regretful and embarrassed’.
Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story, got to know the Duke of Sussex, 36, during his decade-long stint as a royal editor and described him as ‘hot-headed’ (pictured with Harry in 2008 in Buthe Buthe, Lesotho)
Finding Freedom, which was spotted on sale for 99p in January just five months after its release at £20, raised eyebrows for its gushing praise and intimate knowledge of Harry and Meghan, but the couple claimed they were not interviewed and did not contribute to the book.
It was declared a bestseller, with 31,000 copies sold in the UK in the first five days of its release, according to figures from data provider Nielsen Book.
The book offers a window into Meghan and Harry’s lives during their time as senior royals, and is full of details on their shock exit from the royal family.
It addresses the alleged rift between brothers Harry and William – with the former being ‘p****d off’ by his ‘snobbish’ sibling’s suggestion he take ‘as much time’ as he needed to get to know Meghan before proposing, as well as the relationship between their wives.
The book alleged that Meghan was ‘disappointed’ that Kate, 39, wasn’t ‘welcoming enough’.
Scobie said that while they did not interview the couple, ‘many’ friends gave them insights – providing ‘a lens to the couple through their friends and their circle of aides’.
Royal expert Katie Nicholl said the authors may be the ‘only winners’ from the publication of Finding Freedom. Writing in Vanity Fair, she asked if the book was ‘worth it for Harry and Meghan’ before adding: ‘The irony of Finding Freedom is that, locked down in their rented mansion in LA, the Sussexes have less freedom than they did when they lived in Windsor.’
Meanwhile she added that the book’s authors write that the monarchy had lost two of its greatest assets.
She concluded: ‘They, perhaps, might be the only winners in this rather sad story.’
After the emotional funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, William and Harry took ‘baby steps’ towards healing their relationship when they walked back to Windsor Castle from St George’s Chapel together after being pushed together by peacemaker Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Later there was a face-to-face meeting within the grounds of the castle between the brothers and their father Prince Charles. Harry had been widely reported to have been planning to stay for the Queen’s birthday, although sources said he was ‘conflicted’ about the decision and wanted to get home to Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, a girl.