Meghan Markle’s newbook said to be inspired by Prince Harry and son Archie features a long-running theme in the couple’s carefully crafted public image, an expert says.
Her forthcoming children’s book, The Bench, captures the special relationship between fathers and their sons and is said to be based on a poem she wrote for Harry on Father’s Day.
It features joyful illustrations of fathers and sons – including a page featuring a family with a striking resemblance to Meghan, a military fatigues-wearing Harry and toddler Archie.
But the illustrations, set to hit bookstands on June 8, repeat another striking theme of the rare glimpses the public are offered of Sussex family life, a portrait photographer says.
Glenn Gratton told the Mirror Meghan’s book followed the “organic” and “down to earth” image the couple have curated in their bid for independence from royalty.
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What few pictures the couple have released in recent years have followed a similar theme of the young family embracing nature – a motif woven throughout Meghan’s new book, the expert noted.
Its front cover features a bench beneath a leafy tree, which recalls the couple’s recent pregnancy photoshoot.
According to the first glimpses of award-winning Christian Robinson’s illustrations, that theme continues throughout its pages, which feature joyful images of diverse families.
When Meghan and Harry announced her pregnancy on Valentine’s Day, it was with a photograph by celebrated British photographer, Misan Harriman, of the couple under a tree.
In the black-and-white photo, Meghan lies with her head on Harry’s lap and her hand resting on her baby bump.
The photographer snapped the picture of the California couple from afar during the coronavirus pandemic, by taking it remotely from his iPad in London.
To share the news the Sussexes were having a girl, Mr Harriman released a second black-and-white photo in March of the couple posing with Archie under a tree as they confirmed he was getting a baby sister.
Meghan wore a flowing, leaf-print maxi-dress as a barefoot Harry hugged her while she embraced their son.
Mr Gratton, a photographer to the stars, told the Mirror that Meghan projected a “down to earth” brand.
Her new book’s looked chimed with the “organic” photographs she and Harry shared on Instagram and during their pregnancy announcement this year, he added.
Mr Gratton said the pair had adopted Meghan’s laid-back Californian style which often shone through in the images they used to promote themselves.
“She’s living a very beautiful, very organic, lovely lifestyle,” he told the Mirror.
“Meghan is building a beautiful brand and the Americans absolutely adore her.
“I think it’s going very well for her over there – she’s taking very nice pictures.”
The photographer said he had no doubt she also had a direct hand in the appearance of her new book.
“I think she would have had the final say and chosen the cover and the images – she’s very in control of her brand.”
But if the couple wanted to expand on their green aesthetic, ditching their private jet lifestyle for “eco-friendly” options would hone their image, Mr Gratton suggested.
Meghan and Harry drove an electric vehicle to their wedding reception, and his father Prince Charles, a longtime environmentalist, drives an electric Jaguar I-Pace.
But the Sussexes had since been photographed Stateside in gas-guzzling Cadillacs, which Mr Gratton said clashed with their “eco-friendly” interests.
He added: “It’s almost necessary that if you’re going to be that green, why aren’t you driving an electric car?”
Mr Harriman had himself explained to British Vogue the reasons behind the choice of setting for the couple’s intimate pregnancy photoshoot.
“With the tree of life behind them and the garden representing fertility, life and moving forward, they didn’t need any direction, because they are, and always have been, waltzing through life together as absolute soulmates,” he told the magazine.
The couple’s shared interest in the natural world has been well documented in recent years.
In 2019, Harry revealed his own hidden passion for photography when he released a series of portraits from his travels.
The Duke lay on his back to take a photo of a tree canopy soaring above him for his National Geographic Instagram takeover.
He was pictured snapping the baobab trees in Liwonde National Park in Malawi during the couple’s Africa royal tour, in which they would go on to give an emotional interview about their struggles with living in the public gaze.
When the pair gave their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, they shared rare black-and-white footage of young Archie running down a beach with Meghan.
And in the year since their royal split that has strained relationships with the royal family, the Sussexes have kept up their interest in conservation work – promoting global causes like Earth Day through their Archewell foundation.
Alongside their charity work, the couple have courted a mounting string of commercial deals thought to be worth millions.
Their new ventures include deals with Netflix and Spotify, and Harry’s ‘chief impact officer’ role with mental health company BetterUp.