Meghan Markle's 1st Kids Book The Bench Fails to Top The Bestseller List

Published June 8th, 2021 - 10:08 GMT
Meghan Markle's first children's book The Bench
Meghan Markle's first children's book The Bench (Twitter)
Highlights
The picture shows a weeping woman watching through a ground floor window as a soldier, in army combat uniform, throws his son in the air, apparently having returned home.

Meghan Markle's first children's book The Bench has failed to top the bestseller list as it was released in the UK today - while Kate Middleton's photography book is still soaring high, weeks after it went on sale. 

The Duchess of Sussex, 39, announced last month that the £12.99 book is inspired by a poem she wrote for her husband on Father's Day the month after Archie was born, and will explore the 'special bond between father and son' as 'seen through a mother's eyes'. 

It has been released in the UK today, with Meghan dedicating it to Prince Harry and Archie, saying they make her heart go 'pump-pump.'

However the book has failed to make Amazon's top 200 bestsellers, reaching just 205 in the charts and number 60 on the list of bestselling children's books.  

It is not known if Meghan has received an advance for the book and whether any of the proceeds will be donated to charity, but a branding expert previously suggested it would have already netted her £500,000 following a 'bidding war to secure her first venture'.

It comes weeks after Kate Middleton's photography contest book Hold Still instantly topped the bestseller list on the day of its release. 

The mother-of-three, a keen photographer, started her campaign during the first lockdown last year to ask the public to submit images which captured the period and the result is Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020, features 100 final 'poignant and personal' portraits selected from 31,000 entrants. 

Kate's book remains on the list and is currently ranked at 113 in overall bestsellers.

Meghan's book did perform well in more niche categories on the site, including  'Fiction about Virtue and Values for Children' and 'Exploring the United States for Children.' 

Scenes in the book include several illustrations of Prince Harry and son Archie - including one feeding their chickens while the duchess is in the garden with her dogs and their newborn daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. 

In one of the last images featured in the book Prince Harry, recognisable with his ginger hair and beard, sits on a bench feeding his rescue chickens, which the couple house at their £11million mansion in Montecito. 

As well as the chickens – which appeared during the broadcast of the couple's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March – two dogs also feature in the illustration.

The duke and duchess also have two dogs – a black Labrador named Pula and a beagle named Guy.

He appears alongside his son Archie, two, who is captured sprinkling food for the three animals while staring adoringly at this father.

Meanwhile, Meghan, dressed in a summer's hat, white T-shirt and jeans, appears to be sketched in a vegetable patch located near her husband and son. The mother-of-two cradles her daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, who arrived on Friday. 

The first illustration 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.'

In another illustration, a father and son duo each wear pink tutus while performing ballet poses.

The accompanying words read: 'You'll love him. You'll listen. You'll be his supporter.'

Alongside a picture of a father and son playing with toy dinosaurs, Meghan wrote: 'When life feels in shambles, you'll help him find order.'

The duchess also makes an apparent reference to the popular 1964 children's book The Giving Tree from author Shel Silverstein.

To accompany an illustration of a father and son sharing lunch on a park bench, Meghan wrote: 'You'll sit on his bench, as his giving tree.'

Another page is illustrated with the words: 'He'll feel happiness, sorrow, one day be heartbroken. You'll tell him 'I love you,' those words always spoken.'

A father using a wheelchair also features in The Bench.

He is drawn fixing his son's shoes alongside the text: 'This is your bench, for papa and son.'

It continues on the next page alongside a father and son wearing turbans: 'To celebrate joys and victories won.'

The Prince of Wales memorably remembered his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, as 'dear papa' following his death in April.

One illustration from the book is accompanied by the words: 'Looking out at my love and our beautiful boy. And here in the window I'll have tears of great joy…'

The picture shows a weeping woman watching through a ground floor window as a soldier, in army combat uniform, throws his son in the air, apparently having returned home.

Over the final pages, the passage reads: 'Right there on your bench, the place you'll call home… With daddy and son… Where you'll never be 'lone.'

Meghan dedicated her 34-page illustrated story to Prince Harry and son Archie, saying they make her heart go 'pump-pump.'

The touching inscription in the book, reproduced from a hand-written note in the Duchess of Sussex's distinctive calligraphy script, reads: 'For the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump.' 

Meghan has gifted copies of The Bench to her Hollywood friends, with photographer pal Gray Malin, from Los Angeles, promoting the book to his 35,400 followers on Instagram on Friday, sharing a clip as he opened the first page to reveal an unseen illustration of Prince Harry and Archie. 

The duchess' Pilates instructor and friend Heather Dorak was also sent a copy, with a penned note from the former-actress reading: 'From one momma to another - for the love of our boys.'

The Duchess had also penned a note to Gray on the first page of the book, writing: 'From one parent to another - all my love from my family to yours. As ever, Meghan.' 

It's far from the first time that Meghan's friends have promoted one of her post-Megxit projects for her. In December, Oprah Winfrey shared a basket of coffee latte treats from a brand the Duchess had invested in with her 19 million followers. 

Elsewhere, the first illustration in the book is also one of Prince Harry and baby Archie walking hand-in-hand together. The Duke could be seen wearing a grey polo shirt and blue jeans. The royal has been seen wearing a similar outfit while out and about in Los Angeles with Meghan, as well as during his time as a royal. 

Meanwhile the Duke's illustration is seen looking down at his son, who is wearing a green top and blue shorts in the picture. 

The children's book is illustrated by bestselling Californian artist Christian Robinson, who was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt.

A publicity release said Meghan, who chose to use her title on the cover of the book, wanted the story to be told through an 'inclusive lens' and will feature a 'diverse group of father and sons'. Meghan will also narrate the audiobook costing $4.99 - which together with the hardback version could earn her millions from sales. 

The royal, who went by the pen name 'Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex', 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.' 

Popular culture expert Nick Ede told FEMAIL that the Duchess of Sussex would've likely been paid between a £250,000 to £500,000 advance to write the book.  

In authoring a children's book she follows in the footsteps of fellow Royals Sarah, the Duchess of York, who has produced her own money-spinning series, Princess Michael of Kent and even Prince Charles, who penned a children's book called The Old Man of Lochnagar in 1980 to raise money for the Children's Trust.

Sources had Vanity Fair's Katie Nicholl Meghan plans to write more books in the future, revealing: 'She wanted to have a go at writing a children’s book first and depending on the success of this, there will be more. She is also keen to write books for adults too.' 

However speaking to True Royalty TV's The Royal Beat, Angela Levin - author of Harry: Conversations with the Prince - said the subject matter of Meghan's tale is 'not interesting' to children.

'Children's books are directed at children. They like elephants, they like nasty tigers. They do not want a lecture about how different your relationship is with your father, whatever level of society you are at,' she claimed.  

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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