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September 14, 2022 10:49 am

Controversy and Compassion: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Relationship With the Jews

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Britain’s Prince Harry, Megan, Duchess of Sussex, and Lady Sarah Chatto attend the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul’s Cathedral, during Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, in London, Britain, June 3, 2022. Photo: Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS.

Colloquially known as “Megxit” — a play on the portmanteau Brexit — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to retire from British royal family life and live in the United States provoked nothing less than a media firestorm.

Announcing the bombshell move in January 2020, the couple suggested the decision was in part due to press intrusion and stated their need for “space” to grow their family.

Yet, in the two and a half years since Harry and Meghan waved goodbye to the gray skies of Great Britain, they have seemingly gone out of their way to cause controversy, such as their headline-grabbing interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, in which they claimed racism was a factor in their decision to quit as working royals.

However, British historian Robert Lacey asserted that the real reason for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departure was the result of an incident that had occurred some 15 years previously — namely, the fateful evening when Prince Harry was photographed in a Nazi uniform at a costume party.

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According to Lacey, Harry believes he took too much of the blame for the incident, even though his brother, Prince William, had been there when he chose the offensive outfit. This apparently resulted in a long-simmering rift between the royal siblings that paved the way for Harry to abandon his duties 15 years later.

Concerningly, donning Nazi dress is not the only time Harry has managed to offend Britain’s Jewish community.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the prince starred in a tourism advertisement with an actor who was once suspended from his job in 2010 for making antisemitic jokes.

Dave Fane, a New Zealand comic, was forced to apologize to the New Zealand Jewish Council after he “joked” during a 2010 radio show that Jews are “expendable” and “Hitler had a right.”

And in January 2022, a Holocaust survivor observed that when Harry was a student at the prestigious Eton College, he failed to take seriously a talk she was giving about the Nazi genocide of Jews.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, 97, a cellist who survived the Auschwitz and Belsen death camps, said: “Of course Harry wasn’t taking it seriously — just another boring lady who comes to talk about boring things — but [Prince] William is a different character altogether.”

Despite Harry’s apparent propensity for gaffes, he was able to carefully skirt a potential controversy in his role as patron of the Invictus Games, the sporting charity he founded that aids wounded servicemen and women.

Although he is famously “woke,” the Duke refused to bow to pressure from supporters of the antisemitic (and self-proclaimed “progressive”) Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, who had criticized the Invictus Games for allowing former IDF soldiers to compete.

Nevertheless, unlike his brother William and father, King Charles III, Harry has never visited Israel.

Shortly after Harry became engaged to American actress Meghan Markle in 2017, rumors began swirling that his soon-to-be-wife was of Jewish lineage, following a peculiar statement from an official that was allegedly given to a British newspaper.

According to the story in the Express, a spokesman for Westminster Abbey, the historic London church where British royals marry, reportedly confirmed that “Meghan’s Jewish background would not prevent her from having an ‘interfaith’ marriage there.”

But the piece was later debunked when Duncan Jeffery, Westminster Abbey’s head of communications, said the church had only confirmed she could be married in spite of being previously divorced.

Another claim that circulated in the build-up to the wedding was that Meghan may have converted to Judaism when she was married to Jewish film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, in a ceremony that is said to have incorporated Jewish traditions.

As a couple, Harry and Meghan have demonstrated their support for the Jewish community in a number of ways, including a March 2022 donation to HIAS, the largest Jewish nonprofit for refugee assistance in the world.

This followed an earlier £10,000 ($11,700) donation to a joint Muslim and Jewish kitchen in the UK that serves free meals to people in need.

As questions arise about whether Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may return to more prominent royal roles following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we can only hope the couple will continue supporting the Jewish community and giving generously to worthy causes.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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