Meghan Markle’s first children’s book has failed to hit the UK Official Top 50 chart after selling just 3,212 copies in its first week – being beaten by footballer Marcus Rashford’s self-help guide.
The Bench was inspired by a poem the Duchess of Sussex wrote for Prince Harry on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born, and explores the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’.
And while the £12.99 title was the UK’s best-selling picture book last week after being released on June 8, it did not perform so well on the wider chart – but experts said it could still make a fortune by being sold worldwide.
Literary expert Tom Tivan told how the book’s German-owned publishers Penguin Random House Children’s have the rights to sell the English language version globally and could also sell translation rights to other publishers.
Manchester United player Rashford beat Meghan in the UK book charts last week with ‘You Are A Champion’ which sold 10,564 copies – three times the number of The Bench, and perhaps helped by football fever amid Euro 2020.
Taking the UK number one spot for the fourth week was Richard Osman’s debut crime novel The Thursday Murder Club which sold 28,383 last week, ahead of Joe’s Family Food by Joe Wicks which was in second place.
Meghan Markle (left, with her husband Prince Harry and son Archie in Cape Town in September 2019) saw her first children’s book fail to hit the UK Official Top 50 chart – being beaten by footballer Marcus Rashford’s You Are A Champion (right)
A bookshop employee places Meghan Markle’s children’s book The Bench on a shelf in London after its release on June 8
One of the illustrations in ‘The Bench’ which was written by Meghan and illustrated by Californian artist Christian Robinson
One illustration features a bearded ginger father – who bears a resemblance to Harry – cradling a baby on a bench under a tree
Mr Tivan, managing editor of The Bookseller magazine, told the Daily Mirror: ‘At a little over 3,000 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.
‘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 Duchess of Sussex.
Top 20 UK bestselling books on Amazon today
- The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman
- Tom Kerridge’s Outdoor Cooking, by Tom Kerridge
- Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
- The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
- The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
- It’s Not A Diet, by Davinia Taylor
- Megamonster, by David Walliams
- You Are A Champion, by Marcus Rashford
- The Split, by Sharon Bolton
- Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell
- Why Calories Don’t Count, by Giles Yeo
- Joe’s Family Food, by Joe Wicks
- Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
- The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene
- Good Vibes, Good Life, by Vex King
- Pinch of Nom – Quick and Easy, by Kay Featherstone
- They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera
- Freed, by EL James
- Pinch of Nom, by Kay Featherstone
- The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van de Kolk
‘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.’
Early reviews for Meghan’s first foray into writing were not universally positive, although one cooed that ‘the book’s storytelling and illustration give us snapshots of shared moments that evoke a deep sense of warmth’.
Another described it as ‘soothing, loving, although a little schmaltzy in places’, while a third said it read ‘as if it has been penned as a self-help manual for need parents rather than as a story to entertain small kids’.
A further review said: ‘One wonders how any publisher could have thought fit to publish this grammar-defying set of badly rhyming cod homilies, let alone think any child anywhere would want to read it.
‘But that’s planet Sussex for you, where even the business of raising a family is all about the brand.’
Little Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor – Harry and Meghan’s second child, who was only born on June 4 in Santa Barbara – also features in the book, which was illustrated even before she was born.
An illustration shows the entire Sussex family in the garden of their Californian mansion.
Harry can be seen feeding their rescued battery hen chickens – who also featured in the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year – with son Archie, two, with their two dogs, beagle Guy and black Labrador Pula, running around in the grounds.
And Meghan can been seen amidst her vegetable patch with a baby in a sling around her chest.
Another illustration features a bearded ginger father – who bears a resemblance to the duke – cradling a smiling baby on a bench under a tree.
The text reads: ‘This is your bench, where life will begin, for you and our son, our baby, our kin.’ In another illustration, a father and son duo each wear pink tutus while performing ballet poses.
The accompanying words read: ‘You’ll love him. You’ll listen. You’ll be his supporter.’
Early reviews for Meghan’s first foray into writing were not universally positive, although one cooed that ‘the book’s storytelling and illustration give us snapshots of shared moments that evoke a deep sense of warmth’
A touching inscription in the book by the Duchess reads: ‘For the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump’
It is not known if Meghan has received an advance for the book and whether any of the proceeds will be donated to charity
Alongside a picture of a father and son playing with toy dinosaurs, Meghan wrote: ‘When life feels in shambles, you’ll help him find order.’ 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.’
A touching inscription in the book, reproduced from a hand-written note in the Duchess of Sussex’s distinctive calligraphy script, reads: ‘For the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump.’
It is not known if Meghan has received an advance for the book and whether any of the proceeds will be donated to charity.
Industry experts have suggested she could have commanded a £500,000 advance alone. The Bench is illustrated by bestselling Californian artist Christian Robinson.