Meghan reveals secrets of her new children’s book in first interview since Oprah

20 June 2021, 21:01

The Duchess of Sussex has released her new children's book The Bench
The Duchess of Sussex has released her new children's book The Bench. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Duchess of Sussex has revealed her new children’s book is inspired by the relationship between Harry and Archie in her first interview since her bombshell chat with Oprah.

Meghan has described her new children's book The Bench as "a love story" about having a "deep connection" with someone in "good times or bad".

The book, dedicated to "the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump", includes a nod to daughter Lilibet "Lili" Diana who was born earlier this month, and also a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, in the form of her favourite flower.

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Meghan has already said The Bench started as a poem she wrote for Harry on Father's Day, the month after Archie was born, in 2019.

In an interview on NPR Weekend, recorded before the birth of Lili and broadcast on Sunday, Meghan spoke about the bench she bought Harry as a gift for his first Father's Day.

"I thought I just wanted something sentimental and a place for him to have as a bit of a home base with our son," she said.

Meghan added: "I often find, and especially in this past year, I think so many of us realise how much happens in the quiet.

"In the story I'm observing this love between my husband and our son, and imagining what it will be as they have more shared moments as our son gets older, so from scraping a knee to having a heart broken, whatever it is, that they always reset at this bench and have this moment to bond."

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The illustrated publication went on sale on June 8 and features work by award-winning artist Christian Robinson, with the duchess narrating the audiobook.

Meghan said that she and Robinson, who joined her in the interview, explored what diversity means when looked at through illustration.

She told NPR Weekend: "Growing up, I remember so much how it felt to not see yourself represented.

"So, any child, or any family, hopefully, can open this book and see themselves in it, whether that means glasses or freckled or a different body shape or a different ethnicity or religion."

Meghan said Archie "loves" the book and said he has a "voracious appetite for books".

She said: "Constantly when we read him a book he goes 'Again, again again!'.

"But now the fact that he loves The Bench and we can say 'Mommy wrote this for you' feels amazing."

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Meghan said there are nuggets tucked within the book, adding: "If people start digging I think you can find sweet little moments that we've tucked in there from my favourite flower, even my husband's mom's favourite flower forget-me-nots, we wanted to make sure those were included in there."

Robinson said Meghan's words "just felt so genuine and real" and so it felt easy to "make these moments feel real".

Meghan said: "I think part of that too is, it's a love story.

"While this was inspired by the love that I see between my husband and our son, this story and this connection, that bond that you're seeing play itself out, that could be with a mom, that could be with a caregiver, that could be with a sibling, it's really just about growing with someone and having this deep connection and this trust so that, be it good times or bad, you know that you have this person and you know you can always go back to this place that you share together."

The first illustration in the book features a bearded ginger father, who bears a resemblance to the duke, cradling a smiling baby on a bench under a tree.

The text reads: "This is your bench, where life will begin, for you and our son, our baby, our kin."

Further into the book a black father lies asleep on a bench holding his son closely.

The boy sweetly clutches a toy giraffe in one hand while holding his father's hand in the other.

The text reads: "From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy."

The Bench's final illustration features a ginger-haired man helping a young boy feed chickens while a dark-haired woman stands in a garden cradling a baby, possibly a nod to Lili.

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