Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, discusses her new children’s book, The Bench, in a new interview that marks her first since she and husband Prince Harry dropped some revelatory bombshells in their sit-down with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.
Speaking with NPR, she explained how the idea for the book sprang from the present she gave Harry on his first Father’s Day.
“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 as a bit of a home base with our son,” she said in the interview, which was conducted before she and Harry welcomed their second child, daughter Lilibet, earlier this month.
On the back of the bench, she affixed a plaque featuring a poem she’d written about the moments that father and son would experience together on that bench.
The inspiration for the poem, she said, came from watching Harry spending time with their son, Archie.
“I often find, and especially in this past year, I think so many of us realized how much happens in the quiet,” she explained. “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 book features illustrations by Christian Robinson, known for his work in such children’s books as Last Stop on Market Street and Milo Imagines the World, featuring vignettes of an array fathers and sons of different ethnicities.
“Growing up, I remember so much how it felt to not see yourself represented,” said Meghan of why she felt it important to include diversity.
“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,” she added.
One of the vignettes, of a military family, came from a conversation she had with a U.S. soldier while she was on a USO tour years earlier.
“He had told me the story about how he wasn’t able to teach his son how to play catch because he was away. And so he and his son would mail this baseball back and forth to each other from Texas to Afghanistan and write the date on it,” she said.
“That page is true to form for him and his family,” Meghan continued. “There are lots of little small moments like that that were personal memories or anecdotes that I wanted infused in there,” Meghan says.
Ultimately, she explained, The Bench “is a love story. It’s really just about growing with someone and having this deep connection and this trust so that, be at good times or bad, you know that you had this person. I really hope that people can see this as a love story that transcends the story of my family.”