The Duchess of Sussex is 'on dodgy ground' choosing to write a book about relationships with fathers, royal authors have warned.
Meghan Markle yesterday announced she has written a £12.99 ($18.99) children's book called The Bench, which is inspired by Prince Harry and her son Archie and comes illustrated with pictures of a red-headed soldier.
But royal commentators were quick to point out the hypocrisy of writing about fatherhood while Meghan remains estranged from her own.
Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline it was 'extraordinary' for Meghan to 'choose to highlight the relations between fathers and sons'. And yoyal biographer Penny Junor told The Sun she thought the subject was 'odd' and Meghan was 'on dodgy ground'.
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, said the book - which will come out in the UK and US simultaneously - was inspired by a poem she had written for Harry on Father's Day the month after Archie was born and would explore the 'special bond between father and son' as 'seen through a mother's eyes'.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The story, which will be published on June 8 by Random House Children's Books, will be illustrated by bestselling Californian artist Christian Robinson, who was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt.
It comes despite Meghan's public fall-out with her father Thomas, whom Harry has never met, after he sold pictures of himself trying on suits to paparazzi ahead of the royal wedding in 2018.
Meanwhile, Harry revealed his own father, Prince Charles, had stopped taking his calls during a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.
A publicity release said Meghan, who chose to use her title on the cover of the book, wanted the story to be told through an 'inclusive lens' and will feature a 'diverse group of father and sons'. Meghan will also narrate the audiobook costing $4.99 - which together with the hardback version could earn her millions from sales.
In one illustration, a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap is seen holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window. This is a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: 'This is your bench, Where life begins, For you and our son our baby, our kin'.
The royal, who went by the pen name 'Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex', said in a statement: 'The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father's Day, the month after Archie was born.
'That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.
'My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.'
It is not known if Meghan has received an advance for the book and whether any of the proceeds will be donated to charity, but a branding expert has suggested it would have already netted her £500,000 following a 'bidding war to secure her first venture'.
Popular culture expert Nick Ede told FEMAIL that the Duchess of Sussex would've likely been paid between a £250,000 to £500,000 advance to write the book. In authoring a children's book she follows in the footsteps of fellow Royals Sarah, the Duchess of York, who has produced her own money-spinning series, Princess Michael of Kent and even Prince Charles, who penned a children's book called The Old Man of Lochnagar in 1980 to raise money for the Children's Trust.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The Duchess of Sussex said the book - which will sell for £12.99 ($18.99) - would explore the 'special bond between father and son' as 'seen through a mother's eyes'
In one illustration by artist Christian Robinson, a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap is seen holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window, in a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: 'This is your bench, Where life begins, For you and our son our baby, our kin'
Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside. A media release said the book featured a 'diverse group of fathers and sons'
Christian Robinson, 34, is the American illustrator behind what Meghan Markle dubbed the 'beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations' in her first children's book The Bench.
The Duchess of Sussex said she 'worked closely' with the California-based artist to depict father-son relationships through 'an inclusive lens'.
Robinson was born in 1986 in Hollywood, California.
The Bench's illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan's home state of California and has previously worked with Sesame Street and Pixar
He was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt.
He used drawing as a way to 'make space for himself and to create the kind of world he wanted to see', his website states.
Robinson - who is now based in Sacramento, California - studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts.
He worked on animations with The Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios.
Nina: A Story of Nina Simone, written by @tracintodd and illustrated by Mr Robinson, tells the story of Eunice
Last Stop of Market Street (pictured) won him several awards
During an internship with Pixar, Robinson was asked to do some drawings of characters for the film Up.
Pete Doctor - Up's director - spotted his illustrations and asked Robinson to make the children's-book version of the film.
From there, Robinson did various projects - including teaching children art - before he was ask to illustrate more books.
His drawings for New York Times bestseller Last Stop on Market Street - about a young boy's bus journey - won him several awards, including a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.
The Sussexes were seen sitting on a bench in the garden of their Montecito home in September last year when they urged Americans to 'reject hate speech' in a controversial intervention before the US election. However, in quotes promoting the book Meghan refers to a poem she wrote a month after Archie was born, when they were still in the UK.
Photos from inside the book shows a boy being lifted into the air by a red-haired man in military uniform as a woman weeps from the window.
The words accompanying the picture say: 'Looking out at My Love and our beautiful boy. And here in the window I'll have tears of joy'.
Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside.
The words say: 'From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy'.
A media release reads: 'Inspired by her own husband and son, The Duchess of Sussex's debut touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.
'Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Bench gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.'
The press statement described the Duchess of Sussex as a 'mother, wife, feminist, and activist' who 'currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens'.
Mr Fitzwilliam added: 'According to its publishers it is a touching, illustrated exploration of the "special bond between father and son" told through a mother's eyes.
'The choice of subject matter however was bound to raise eyebrows, Meghan seeks to highlight the undoubted bond between Harry and Archie, but it is common knowledge that she is publicly estranged from her own father, Thomas, whom Harry has never met.
'Also, the fact that Harry recently revealed to the world on Oprah that there was a rift between him and his father and that he had been cut off financially, was one of many shocks which that unfortunate interview provided.
'It was subsequently publicly reported by Gayle King that Charles's initial reach out to Harry was "not productive" and according to Omid Scobie in Bazaar.com, Harry's recent visit for Britain for his grandfather Prince Philip's funeral, was "family-focused", it "broke the ice" for the future but conversations had not involved wider matters.
'Many questions therefore, remain. It is the most extraordinary time for Meghan to choose to highlight the relations between fathers and sons, as though she, the main participant in one of the most divisive interviews ever given, was actually a healer.'
Royal biographer Penny Junor said Meghan was on 'dodgy ground' with her subject choice, adding: 'It’s very easy to talk about relationships between fathers and sons when they are two years old.
'But problems come when the children are older — as Meghan found out with her father and Harry with Prince Charles.
'She is on dodgy ground because of her relationship with her father and Harry with his.'
Meghan previously wrote a blog, The Tig, and has also penned an article for Time magazine. Her other publishing experience includes guest editing Vogue in September 2019.
The Bench's illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan's home state of California and has previously worked with Sesame Street and Pixar.
H recently received a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street.
Other royals to have written books include Prince Charles, who penned A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (1989) and a children's book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, in 1989.
The Queen's first cousin, Princess Michael of Kent, has written several historical novels and the autobiographical A Cheetah's Tale, about her early life travelling Africa and raising a cheetah cub.
The book is published by Penguin Random House and will be released on June 8.
It is the latest venture since the Sussexes signed a £75million Netflix deal and a lucrative partnership to produce podcasts for Spotify.
The couple's first series for Netflix will be a string of documentaries about the Invictus Games, while today Oprah Winfrey confirmed that Apple TV's mental health series with Prince Harry will finally air this month.
On Sunday, Harry walked on to a standing ovation and told the crowd they were 'awesome' as he joined stars at a 'Vax Live' Covid concert in LA.
It comes as a royal expert warned that new chapters of the Sussexes' biography, Finding Freedom, would expose sensitive information including 'intimate details' of conversations at Prince Phillip's funeral.
An updated version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's biography by authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand is set to be released this summer.
The first edition was published on August 11 last year and painted a flattering picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from when they met in 2016 to their departure from the Firm in early 2020.
According to The Sunday Times, it is now being updated with new chapters which will cover their tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, the allegations that Meghan, 39, bullied royal staff - which she denies - and the death of Prince Philip.
Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story, warned there will be 'no chance' of a reconciliation if the book divulges more negative information about the royals or in-depth details of any personal conversations between Harry and his family after the funeral.
'That really will be the final straw,' he told Closer magazine. 'That'll be it - there will be no chance of a reconciliation ever and all trust will be broken.
'How could anyone from the Royal Family trust them again if the intimate details of conversations were leaked. Why would they want anything more to do with them? Those chapters will be extremely telling as to the state of the royal rift as it stands now, and to where it'll head in the future.'
The updated Finding Freedom, which is also expected to discuss their multi-million pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, their new life in California and the Queen's decision to strip them of their royal patronages including Harry's military roles, will go on sale on August 5.
It was hoped that Harry and his brother William would start to build bridges following the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, but the reissue of Finding Freedom is only likely to aggravate tension between the Sussexes and the Firm, it has been claimed.