From the time Prince Harry joined Meghan Markle in speaking openly about the idea of structural racism and how it has affected their relationship, there was one comment that kept on coming up: Isn’t Harry the guy who wore a Nazi costume to a party when he was 20 years old? In the third episode of Harry & Meghan, the couple’s long-awaited Netflix documentary series directed by filmmaker Liz Garbus, Harry mentions the incident and acknowledges that there was a bit of a contradiction there.
“It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life,” Harry said. “I felt so ashamed afterwards. All I wanted to do was make it right. I sat down and spoke to the chief rabbi in London, which had a profound effect on me. I went to Berlin and spoke to a Holocaust survivor. I could have just ignored it and made the same mistakes over again in my life. But I learned from that.”
In Vanity Fair’s podcast DYNASTY, we broke down the event, which made headlines around the world. For an Africa themed party thrown by a friend of Harry and Prince William, the brothers went to a London costume shop together. William chose a lion costume, while Harry picked out the khaki and red uniform of the Nazi Afrika Korps. A guest at the party sold a photo of Harry, prominently displaying his swastika armband, to The Sun, and it immediately caused offense. To make matters worse, the world would soon commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The moment is revisited in the Harry & Meghan episode in the context of Harry’s new reputation as an anti-racism activist, and comes after footage of Meghan, Harry, and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland attending the NAACP Image awards. While reflecting on how dating Meghan helped open his eyes to the idea of unconscious bias, he mentioned that part of the reason he wants to speak openly about race now is because he wants to tell his children that he tried to do his part.
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.