May 6, 2021
The Duchess of Sussex penned the book—scheduled to be released in the United States on June 8 by Random House Books for Young Readers— after originally writing a poem for Harry’s first Father’s Day with their son Archie, who will turn two next month.
Not only do both books feature a colorful cover illustration of a bench under a tree surrounded by birds—but one illustration by award-winning artist Christian Robinson in Meghan’s book shows a dad with his baby boy dozing on a lounge chair outside.The text says: “From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy.”
Some have claimed the image is similar to one in “The Boy and the Bench,” which features a birds-eye view of a dad and son on a bench, The Sun notes.
“Before you run out and waste money on the book by Harry’s wife, read ‘The Boy on the Bench’ by Corrinne Averiss and Gabriel Alborozo … The original,” one Twitter user wrote of the apparent likeness, according to a report by The New York Post’s Page Six.
Dozens of others soon complained on Twitter that the Duchess of Sussex’s book, “The Bench,” didn’t only share a similar title to UK author Averiss’ 2018 book — but also similar artwork from Christian Robinson.
One online critic, Emma Kaye Wootton, even suggested that the book was “blatantly plagiarized” and that Markle’s work should be “boycotted.”
Another British reader said, “This woman is incapable of an original thought. “The Boy on the Bench” is a story about the love between a father and son, and describes how the boy learns to socialize confidently. I hope that Corrine Averiss considers legal action.”
Yet another, “British born & bred @Dianne Zecher,” commented, “I find it quite a coincidence that someone else named Corrine Averiss wrote a book called “The Boyon the Bench” in 2018 about a young boy & his father. Surely the duchess wouldn’t have accidently [sic] lifted someone else’s work, tweaked it, & served it up to be published?”
At the time Cosmopolitan magazine noted, “Apparently, Meghan ‘helped produce’ (read: wrote an essay for) “The Game Changers” by Samantha Brett and Steph Adams about three years before guest editing Vogue’s Force of Change issue—and it also uses a grid cover with black-and-white photos.”
Meghan, herself, has said: “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 watercolor 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 make up, as much as it does with me.”
But, The Sun notes, royal experts have pointed out it comes at a time when Meghan and Harry’s relationships with their own fathers could not be more strained.
Meghan has not spoken to her father Thomas, 76, for three years and even embroiled him in a High Court privacy case.
Meanwhile Harry, 36, accused his father Prince Charles of being trapped in the Royal Family and told Oprah Winfrey in their interview that his family had cut him off financially.
A press release that accompanies the announcement describes it as a story that “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.”
Meanwhile, the author of the 2018 book, Corrine Averiss, refuses to become involved in the ruckus—denying that she sees any similarities.
Research contact: @TheSun