Meghan, Duchess of Sussex releases children’s book The Bench with nods to Harry, Archie and Lilibet 

The Duchess of Sussex has released a children’s book inspired by the relationship between her husband and son.

Meghan’s debut publication, called The Bench, also includes a nod to daughter Lilibet "Lili" Diana, who was born on Friday.

The book is dedicated to "the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump", a reference to the Duke of Sussex and their two-year-old son Archie.

The Bench’s final illustration features a ginger-haired man helping a young boy feed chickens while a dark-haired woman stands in a garden cradling a baby, widely assumed to be Meghan and her newborn daughter.

The scene (below) is heavily influenced by the new life the Duke and Duchess have forged in Montecito, California.

Credit: Random House Penguin

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.

The Bench went on sale on Tuesday and features work by award-winning artist Christian Robinson, with the Duchess narrating the audiobook.

The first illustration features a bearded ginger father cradling a smiling baby on a bench under a tree.

Despite significant publicity, it was not an immediate hit, ranked 200 in the Amazon books best seller list and 60 in the children’s books best list.

It received mixed reviews, with some hailing it a "beautiful story, beautifully written" while others branded it an "uninspiring vanity project" that would not appeal to children.

The book depicts fathers from a range of backgrounds who are pictured with their sons on benches in parks and gardens.

The loving fathers look on as the boys variously ride their bikes, look at stars, brandish football trophies, enjoy picnics, laugh and cry.

One scene shows both father and son doing ballet dressed in tutus, as the father is told to "listen" and "be his supporter."

Rather than a story, the book features a series of imperatives written as an extended poem, which the Telegraph’s critic branded "grammar-defying" and "badly rhyming". 

The book opens with the line: "This is your bench, where life will begin, for you and our son, our baby, our kin."

Further on, a black father lies asleep on a bench holding his son  (seen below). The boy clutches a toy giraffe in one hand while holding his father’s hand in the other.

Credit: Random House Penguin

The text reads: "From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy."

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

She also made an reference to the popular 1964 children’s book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, which she named in 2016 as the book she could not wait to share with her children.

Alongside an illustration of a father and son sharing lunch on a park bench, the Duchess 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 (below).

An illustration from Meghan, Duchess of Sussex's book The Bench

Credit: Penguin Random House

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."

The last five words of the book accompany the drawing apparently showing the couple’s idyllic lifestyle in California, where they moved to after stepping down as working royals for financial and personal freedom.

The book is the second publication the Duchess has been involved with after being the driving force behind Together – a cookbook featuring recipes from Grenfell Tower women.

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