The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have marked their son Archie’s first birthday today by releasing a short film that shows Meghan reading him one of his favourite books, Duck! Rabbit!, to support Save the Children's Save With Stories initiative, aimed at helping children hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis both here in the UK and around the world.
The film, shot by Harry in California last weekend and posted on Save the Children’s Instagram account, shows Archie perched on his mother’s lap in a white t-shirt and nappy and turning the pages of Duck! Rabbit! as she reads.
The Duchess laughs as Archie’s attention momentarily wanders and he throws another book to the floor. The Duke is heard cheering at the end of the story. Archie responds by saying, ‘Da, da, da.’
The reading of Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld – is part of an initiative called Save With Stories that was created by Save the Children to raise money for children around the world who have been hardest hit by Covid-19 whilst highlighting the plight of millions of pupils whose education has been disrupted by the virus.
The Coronavirus crisis is hitting families hard – and the poorest families hardest of all. Four million children in the UK lived in poverty before Coronavirus struck and worldwide an estimated 1.5 billion children are out of school, putting the most vulnerable children are at real risk.
In the poorest countries, the impact is particularly severe for girls who may not be allowed to return to school in the long run and risk being forced into early marriage as their families suffer the economic consequences of the pandemic. Many boys are in danger of ending up in child labour.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said they wanted to mark Archie’s birthday by highlighting the issues.
The Duke has long been active in charity work for children and young people, notably in Africa. The Duchess has spoken passionately about gender equality, focusing global attention on the disadvantages faced by girls in health, education and prospects for work.
Their reading is the latest high-profile addition to Save With Stories, in which famous people read favourite children’s books as part of a fundraising initiative on Instagram.
Jennifer Garner, the American actor and Save the Children ambassador, launched the initiative in the US and encouraged the Duchess, who is a friend, to join in. The Duke and Duchess then decided their son’s birthday would be the ideal moment to give their support.
Duck! Rabbit! is a classic picture book which has sold more than 100,000 copies since it was published in 2014. The story is based on the idea that whether you are seeing a duck or a rabbit depends on how you look at it. The Duchess reads a sturdy ‘board book’ designed for small children to hold.
A spokesperson for the couple said: "The family is participating in the campaign across both the US and UK to help bring much-needed support to children who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As they celebrate this family moment, the Duke and Duchess wanted to continue to raise awareness around the urgency of bringing food and learning resources to millions of children.”
Gemma Sherrington, Fundraising Director at Save the Children UK, said: "Many national education systems already face considerable challenges as a result of conflict and displacement, environmental emergencies and a lack of funding. COVID-19 further compounds these challenges. Countries are under huge pressure in responding to the pandemic, and education budgets risk being reduced.
’We’re delighted that the Duke and Duchess have chosen to focus attention on the need to protect a generation of children from the consequences of Covid-19.’
Save the Children UK Ambassador Poppy Delevingne has led the initiative for Save With Stories in the UK and other celebrities who have read include Helen Mirren, Jude Law, Stephen Fry and the singers Rita Ora and Liam Payne of One Direction. The initiative has already raised more than £1m in America.
New videos are posted every day at 5pm on Save the Children UK’s Instagram and Facebook pages. To donate visit savethechildren.org.uk/savewithstories or you can text STORIES to 70008 to give a one-off donation of £5. All money raised will support the most vulnerable families in the UK and around the world, helping to provide supermarket vouchers, essential household items, virus protection and early learning packs.