The Duchess of Sussex did one interview to promote The Bench. One. It’s a huge flex. Apparently, Meghan did this interview the day before she gave birth to Lilibet, which means it was actually conducted before The Bench was released, but NPR held on to it until The Bench was a New York Times bestseller. I mean, I assume Meghan knew that the interview would not air for a few weeks, so it’s not like NPR held on to it for a rainy day or something. The interview itself was just a chill conversation about the children’s book and her inspirations for it. The illustrator, Christian Robinson, was also part of the interview. Some highlights:
Meghan got Harry a bench for 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,” Meghan says. And on a little plaque on the back of the bench, she wrote a poem, about the moments she hoped they would share on that bench. “This is your bench,” the poem reads, “Where life will begin/For you and our son/Our baby, our kin.”
Quiet moments with Harry & Archie: “I often find, and especially in this past year, I think so many of us realized how much happens in the quiet. 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.”
Asking Christian Robinson to work with a different medium, watercolor: “I wanted him to just try something a little bit new and work in watercolor. And that was specifically because I just felt that when you talk about masculinity and you talk about fatherhood, it can often not come across with the same softness that I was really after for this book. And I just wanted this to feel almost ethereal and light and Christian was able to use that medium and create the most beautiful images.”
Why diverse fathers are represented: “Growing up, I remember so much how it felt to not see yourself represented. 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.”
One story came from a USO trip: One representation Meghan says she particularly wanted to include in The Bench was that of a military family. Years ago, she was on a USO tour with a sergeant from Texas. “He had told me the story about how he wasn’t able to teach his son how to play catch because he was away,” Meghan says. “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 included personal touches in the book: Like her favorite flower, her mother-in-law’s favorite flower, and, of course, the family’s rescue chickens. “I needed my girls in there,” says Meghan.
She hopes the story is universal: “It’s 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.”
From what little we’ve seen of the Sussexes’ Montecito property, it definitely looks like Meghan got Harry a new bench when they moved! I guess the old bench is still outside Frogmore Cottage in the Windsor Castle complex. I wonder if Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank ever sit on the old bench? Meghan cracked me when she referred to the rescue chickens as “my girls.” I live next door to people who keep chickens and roosters and… the chickens are sweet. The roosters, not so much. I also liked that Meghan talked about the inspiration for the images of a father, in uniform, returning home to his kid – she was clearly inspired (as she says) by her USO trips and that image isn’t supposed to represent Harry.
Here’s the interview. There’s more in here! Archie apparently loves The Bench and he loves all books!
Photos courtesy of Vax Live.