Choosing a gift for Father’s day – or any occasion for that matter – isn’t an easy task. You ideally want to stray from generic items and go for something sentimental. This was Meghan Markle’s thought process when she got Prince Harry a bench for his first Father’s Day. Two years later, that bench became the inspiration for the Duchess of Sussex’s first picture book titled, The Bench.
The Inspiration Behind the Book
“As most of us do, you go, what am I going to get them as a gift? And I thought I just wanted something sentimental and a place for him to have a bit of a home base with our son,” Meghan told NPR. But it wasn’t just any bench; it had a little plaque at the back with a short and sweet poem that the Duchess herself wrote. The poem reads: “This is your bench/Where life will begin/For you and our son/Our baby, our kin.”
Moments with Harry and Archie
The 40-page picture book contains a series of watercolor drawings by Christian Robinson that depict unconditional paternal love. She watched her husband and their son, Archie, having moments on the bench and based the poem on these encounters. “It was definitely moments like that, watching them from out of the window and watching [my husband] just, you know, rock him to sleep or carry him, or you know…those lived experiences, from my observation, are the things that I infused in this poem.”
The Importance of Inclusivity and Representation
Robinson’s illustrations included the author’s own family, as well as families from different backgrounds and ethnicities. “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,” says Meghan. Many of the stories included are from personal memories or anecdotes that are worth telling.
The Bench may have been a personal poem Meghan wrote for Harry, but she hopes everyone can still relate to the universal message. “I really hope that people can see this as a love story that transcends the story of my family.” It’s representative, diverse, and charming children’s literature that’s perfect for first-time parents.