The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she hid references to Diana, Princess of Wales in her new children’s book.
The Bench, which was inspired by Prince Harry’s relationship with the couple’s two-year-old son Archie, includes illustrations of Princess Diana’s favourite flower, forget-me-nots.
The subtle nod to the Princess is one of numerous personal "nuggets tucked within the book", the Duchess said on Sunday in her first media interview regarding the book.
The Duchess’ debut publication topped a New York Times Bestseller list earlier this month, but has not been received as well in the UK where it failed to make Amazon’s top 100 most popular books.
Speaking to the US radio station NPR, the Duchess revealed that her son loves the book and has a "voracious" appetite for reading.
"There are nuggets tucked within the book," the Duchess said. "There’s a lot if people start digging – you can find sweet little moments that we have tucked in there, from my favourite flower and even my husband’s mum’s favourite flower forget-me-nots. We wanted to make sure those were included in there. There’s a lot of special detail and love that went into this book."
The Duchess of Sussex's debut book The Bench topped a New York Times Bestseller list earlier this month
Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The Duchess added: "Archie loves the book, which is great because he has a voracious appetite for books and constantly when we read him a book he goes ‘again, again, again’.
"But now the fact he loves The Bench and we can say, ‘mummy wrote this for you’ feels amazing."
It is not the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid tribute to Princess Diana with her favourite flower, as it was included in the Duchess’ wedding bouquet when the couple married in 2018.
To commemorate 23 years since the Princess’ death, the couple last year planted forget-me-not seeds at an infant school in Los Angeles, where the couple relocated after formally stepping back as senior members of the Royal family.
In this weekend’s radio interview, which was recorded before the birth of the couple’s second child, Lilibet, earlier this month, the Duchess said she did not feel represented in children’s books when she was a young girl.
"Growing up, I remember so much how it felt to not see yourself represented," she said. "So 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."
The book also includes a reference to a military family after the Duchess went on a tour with a sergeant from Texas several years ago.
"He had told me the story about how he wasn’t able to teach his son how to play catch because he was away," she said. "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."
The Duchess revealed that the book was born out of a Father’s Day present for Prince Harry two years ago, when she bought him a bench with the engraving: "This is your bench, where life will begin, for you and our son, our baby, our kin."
The Duchess revealed that the book was inspired by an engraved bench she bought Prince Harry for Father’s Day two years ago
Credit: Penguin/Random House
The engraving now forms the opening line of her new book, which includes illustrations of characters that have been widely interpreted as her own family.
The first page features a bearded ginger father cradling a smiling baby on a bench under a tree, alongside the forget me not flowers, while the 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.
Discussing the moment she decided to get her husband a bench for Father’s Day, the Duchess said: "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.
She continued: "I often find, and especially in this past year, I think so many of us realised 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."
The book includes illustrations by the artist Christian Robinson, who said he was in “complete disbelief” when he was asked if he wanted to collaborate with the Duchess.
"This was just like, one day getting an email being like, ‘Would you want to work with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex?’ And I’m like, in complete disbelief and excited," he said. "For me it was a no brainer."