Prince Harry
Prince HarryReuters

Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" was released this Tuesday and has already been purchased in the hundreds of thousands of copies. In its pages, King Charles III's younger son discusses a notorious incident in his life that occurred when he was 20, back in 2005, and attended a fancy-dress party in a Nazi uniform, complete with swastika. Photographs of the prince wearing the costume while holding a drink and a cigarette were splashed on the front pages of newspapers at the time and created public furor.

Following the incident, Harry relates, his father, now the British King, "sent me to a holy man. 51. Bearded, bespectacled, with a deeply lined face and dark, wise eyes. He was the Chief Rabbi of Britain, that much I'd been told. But right away I could see he was much more."

This was of course then-Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks zt"l.

"An eminent scholar, a religious philosopher, a prolific writer with more than two dozen books to his name, he'd spent many of his days staring out of windows and thinking about the root causes of sorrow, of evil, of hate. He didn't mince words.

"He condemned my actions. He wasn't unkind, but it had to be done. There was no way around it. He also placed my stupidity in historical context. He spoke about the six million, the annihilated. Jews, Poles, dissenters, intellectuals, homosexuals. Children, babies, old people, turned to ash and smoke. A few short decades ago.

"I'd arrived at his house feeling shame. I now felt something else, a bottomless self-loathing. But that wasn't the rabbi's aim. That certainly wasn't how he wanted me to leave him. He urged me not to be devastated by my mistake, but instead to be motivated. He spoke to me with the quality one often encounters in truly wise people: forgiveness.

"He assured me that people do stupid things, say stupid things, but it doesn't need to be their intrinsic nature. I was showing my true nature, he said, by seeking to atone. Seeking absolution. To the extent that he was able, and qualified, he absolved me. He gave me grace. He told me to lift my head, go forth, use this experience to make the world better."