The perfect gift can be hard to find, but you never know what it might lead to. On Sunday, June 20, Meghan Markle was discussing her new children’s book, The Bench, with NPR, and she explained that it all started with her first Father’s Day gift to Prince Harry. The Duchess of Sussex discussed the deeper meaning behind the present, saying she came up with the idea after their 2-year-old son, Archie, was born.
“As most of us do, you go, what am I going to get them as a gift?” Meghan said. “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.”
The duchess decided to get her husband a bench that included a poem engraved on the back. “This is your bench/Where life will begin/For you and our son/Our baby, our kin,” it read. Meghan said the poem was inspired by watching peaceful moments between Harry and baby Archie.
“I often find, and especially in this past year, I think so many of us realized how much happens in the quiet,” she told NPR. “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, those lived experiences, from my observation, are the things that I infused in this poem.”
The poem eventually evolved into the idea for The Bench. The book, which includes art by award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson, shows a diverse group of fathers and sons sharing moments of “peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort,” according to its publisher, Random House Children’s Books. Meghan said she wanted Robinson to illustrate the book with watercolors to capture the “softness” she was after and for the art to feel “almost ethereal and light.”
On June 16, Markle shared a special message for fans about The Bench on the Archewell website, thanking readers for their support after the book reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s picture books. “I’m encouraged to see that its universal themes of love, representation and inclusivity are resonating with communities everywhere,” she wrote. “In many ways, pursuing a more compassionate and equitable world begins with these core values.”
The Duchess of Sussex went on to add how The Bench looked to show a different side to fathers, capturing moments outside traditional depictions of masculinity. She noted the project looked to model a world “grounded in connection, emotion, and softness” that “so many would like to see for their sons and daughters alike.”