The very first children’s novel by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is a multicultural tribute to fatherhood.
“The Bench,” a film story published Tuesday from Random House Children’s Books, celebrates the bond between Meghan’s husband Prince Harry and kid Archie and fathers and sons generally. Markle’s rhyming narrative is complemented with illustrator Christian Robinson’s watercolor images, revealing families of different skin colors and backgrounds, by a light-skinned soldier arriving home (Harry served in Afghanistan) to a dark-skinned man in dreadlocks, from a boy carrying a football trophy into a boy and his dad wearing pink tutus.
Fathers are seen as friends, teachers, consolers and cheerleaders. The picture of the seat serves as a sign of stability and comfort, beginning with a drawing of Harry holding his infant son on a bench, two puppies nearby.
Markle’s opening stanza:
“That is the bench
Where life will begin
For you and our son
Our baby, our kin”
The book’s jacket clarifies Meghan, the actor formerly known as Meghan Markle, as”a mommy, wife, feminist, and activist,” dedicated to”activating compassion in communities across the world. She now resides in her home state of California along with her family, two dogs, and a growing variety of rescue dogs.” In announcing”The Bench” past month, she said it began as a Father’s Day poem written a month later Archie’s birth, in 2019.
“That poem became this story,” said Meghan, who dedicated the book to”the man and the boy that made my heart move pump-pump.”
Meghan was pregnant using Lilibet while working on the publication and the final example shows Harry and Archie, a toddler, in the family’s chicken coop. Meghan is at the backyard on the opposite page, wearing a sun hat, holding a baby in a sling.
Her final stanza:
“Right there on your seat
The place you’ll call home
With dad and son
Where you’ll never be’lone”
Meghan and Harry declared last year they were quitting royal duties and moving into North America, their motives including the racist attitudes of the British media. In a TV interview in March with Oprah Winfrey, they clarified unnervering remarks about how shadowy Archie’s skin might be before his arrival and Meghan spoke about isolation so intense she contemplated suicide.
The British press so far has offered a mixed verdict on her novel. The Telegraph labeled it”The Duchess of Sussex’s semi-literate vanity project” while the Evening Standard called her writing”soothing, loving, even though a little schmaltzy in places.”
“The largest statement to the household the Sussexes have left comes in the line’You’ll tell him”I love you”, Those words constantly spoken,”’ reviewer Emily Phillips writes at the Evening Standard. “While Harry’s dad Prince Charles famously said,’anything in love means’ about his brand new bride Diana, we are being told that Harry will probably be telling their kids that he loves them a thousand times per day just like the rest of us.”