Meghan Markle beaten by Marcus Rashford for bestselling children’s book spot (Image: Getty Images)

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Meghan Markle's children's book has been beaten to the top of the UK book charts in its first week by a volume from campaigning footballer and Marcus Rashford.

'The Bench', which has an average rating of four stars online, was inspired by a poem the Duchess of Sussex wrote about Prince Harry's first Father's Day.

The 40-page £12.99 ($18.42) book is illustrated with pictures of a family including one of Meghan cradling a newborn baby in a possible nod to their newborn daughter Lili.

But the book sold just 3,212 copies in its first week and failed to make it into the best selling top 50.

Despite the slow sales the work is expected to be hugely profitable for the book's publishers Penguin Random House Children's (PRH) as they have rights that allow them to sell the English language version globally.

'The Bench' sold just 3,212 copies in its first week
(Image: [email protected])

PRH could also sell translation rights to other publishers which means 'The Bench' could become a huge global success if it is printed in other languages.

The book has been illustrated by award winning artist Christian Robinson, and the audiobook is narrated by the Duchess of Sussex herself.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford scooped the top spot with his book 'You are a Champion' which sold a whopping 10,564 copies in the last week as football fans are gripped by Euro 2020.

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Tom Tivan is the managing editor of The Bookseller which provided the Mirror with the figures.

Speaking exclusively to the Mirror he said that despite Meghan's book failing to make it to the top 50 it is not disappointing because picture books generally sell slow and steadily.

He said: "At a little over 3000 copies (3,212 to be exact) sold The Bench is obviously not a huge bestseller in week one, it didn't even make the top 50.

The sales won't be a disappointment for the book's publisher
(Image: Getty Images)

"But I don't think that's a disappointment for Penguin Random House Children's as picture books generally don't sell huge amounts starting out – even if the writer is the writer is the Duchess of Sussex.

"The aim is the long game as picture books tend to have a longer shelf life than adult titles. The idea is to keep them selling week in and week out and is not about a quick hit.

"Meghan's was the bestselling picture book of the week, though as it sold 500 more copies than Julia Donaldson's What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside."

'The Bench' was the best selling picture book
(Image: Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock)

Days after the book was launched it suffered a bumpy start that saw it creep to just number 100 on the Amazon chart but it later flew into the number five spot on the online website's UK Children's Books list.

"I suspect what the publisher is doing is also playing the long game to try to get a toe in for the bigger prize: the full Harry/Meghan package," Tom said.

"I think the plan is for some publisher to nab them for a multi-book deal for some eye-popping sum which I think could even exceed what PRH paid for the Obamas two books (around £46m). So publishing the children's book can show the Sussexes what PRH can do."

The Sussexes could end up with a bigger book deal
(Image: Getty Images)

'The Bench' appears to have have split opinion among readers online with it being branding from "beautiful keepsake" to "semi-literate vanity project"

Less favourable reviews describe it as mawkish and lacking a story line, with one reader saying they had "really wanted to like" it but been disappointed.

"I really wanted to like this book, to believe the Publishers had selected it on merit.

Marcus Rashford with his number one book

"There isn’t a lot of positives to be found. It’s not engaging and cannot justify its classification as a children’s book. It’s a sentimental with a somewhat sanctimonious overtone," the person wrote on Amazon.

The Evening Standard's Emily Phillips said her own child loved the "soothing" book being read to her but added the writing was "a little schmaltzy" in places.

However The Telegraph's Claire Allfree slated it as a "semi-literate vanity project" – a description echoed by a reviewer on the Amazon page.

A positive review titled "Beautiful keepsake" read: "The poem throughout is lovely Don’t really understand the negative reviews, it’s a beautiful book and clearly meant more for a Father or parent to read and give them a smile. My children loved looking at the pictures and pointing out ‘daddy’, but it made my husband tear up".

One reader also praised the poem for showing "diversity" by representing a range of different families in its "gorgeous" illustrations.

'The Bench' is not Meghan's first venture into writing.

As an up-and-coming actress, she penned lifestyle blog The Tig – which shut down after she began dating Harry.