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Duchess of Sussex's 'The Bench' celebrates fathers and sons

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wrote the children's book

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wrote the children's book "The Bench," about the relationships between fathers and sons. Credit: Composite: AP, left; Random House Children's Books via AP

The first children's book by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is a multicultural tribute to fatherhood.

"The Bench," a picture story published Tuesday by Random House Children's Books, celebrates the bond between Meghan's husband, Prince Harry, and son, Archie, and fathers and sons in general. Her rhyming narrative is complemented by illustrator Christian Robinson's watercolor images, showing families of different skin colors and backgrounds, from a light-skinned soldier returning home (Harry served in Afghanistan) to a dark-skinned man in dreadlocks, from a boy carrying a soccer trophy to a boy and his father wearing pink tutus.

Fathers are seen as buddies, teachers, consolers and cheerleaders. Random House calls the book a portrait of "the special relationship between fathers and sons, through a mother's eyes." The image of the bench serves as a symbol of stability and comfort, starting with a drawing of Harry holding his baby son on a bench, two dogs nearby.

Markle's opening stanza:

"This is your bench

Where life will begin

For you and our son

Our baby, our kin"

The book's jacket describes Meghan, the actor formerly known as Meghan Markle, as "a mother, wife, feminist, and activist," committed to "activating compassion in communities across the world. She currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens." In announcing "The Bench" last month, she said it began as a Father's Day poem written a month after Archie's birth, in 2019.

"That poem became this story," said Meghan, who dedicated the book to "the man and the boy who made my heart go pump-pump."

Publication of "The Bench" comes four days after the birth of the couple's second child, Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, named in part for Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose family nickname is Lilibet, and his late mother, Princess Diana. Meghan was pregnant with Lilibet while working on the book and the final illustration shows Harry and Archie, now a toddler, at the family's chicken coop. Meghan is in the garden on the opposite page, wearing a sun hat, holding an infant in a sling.

Her final stanza:

"Right there on your bench

The place you'll call home

With daddy and son

Where you'll never be 'lone"

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