Buckingham Palace has criticised the Sun newspaper for publishing footage of the Queen giving the Nazi salute as a child. The palace said that the paper had exploited footage that appeared to have come from the monarch’s personal archives.
The Sun ran an image from the grainy footage from the early 1930s of a young Elizabeth playing with her sister Margaret on its front page on Saturday. The two children are accompanied by their uncle Edward – then Prince of Wales – and their mother in the gardens of Balmoral. The footage shows Elizabeth, at the apparent instigation of both her uncle and her mother, raising her right arm straight in salute to the camera.
A palace spokesman said: “It is disappointing that film, shot eight decades ago and apparently from her majesty’s personal family archive, has been obtained and exploited in this manner.”
The film lasts about 17 seconds and shows Elizabeth playing with a dog on the lawn in the gardens of Balmoral, the Sun claims, before she raises an arm to wave to the camera with Margaret. The Queen Mother then makes a Nazi salute and, after glancing towards her mother, Elizabeth mimics the gesture. The Queen Mother repeats the salute, joined by Edward, and Margaret raises her left hand before the two children continue dancing and playing on the grass.
A palace source said: “Most people will see these pictures in their proper context and time. This is a family playing and momentarily referencing a gesture many would have seen from contemporary newsreels. No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest.
“The Queen is around six years of age at the time and entirely innocent of attaching any meaning to these gestures. The Queen and her family’s service and dedication to the welfare of this nation during the war, and the 63 years the Queen has spent building relations between nations and peoples, speaks for itself.”
In its leader column, the Sun defended the publication of the video, saying that its focus was not on the young child who would become queen, but on her uncle, who was then heir to the throne. The paper said: “Elizabeth and Margaret are kids. Families of all kinds larked around apeing the stiff-armed antics of the faintly comic character with the Charlie Chaplin moustache who won power in Germany. But Edward, it said, “was already a fan of Hitler – and remained so as late as 1970, long after the Holocaust’s horrors were laid bare”.
Graham Smith, the chief executive of the anti-monarchy group Republic, said: “Obviously, she [Elizabeth] is quite young. Clearly, the footage is quite damaging to the royal family. There is an issue in the fact that they totally control the use of archive footage and this probably has something to do with it. They have always gone out of their way to protect this fairytale image that belies a more questionable family background. But I don’t think anything can be construed from the Queen’s involvement.
“I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone who knows anything about her uncle that he was sympathetic towards that regime and there have been claims that others within the family held rightwing views. It raises the question about why we can’t hear the Queen’s views so that we can decide whether or not we want her representing us.”
Edward, who later became King Edward VIII and abdicated to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson, faced numerous accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser. The couple were photographed meeting Hitler in Munich in October 1937, less than two years before the second world war broke out.
SOURCE: The Guardian – Kevin Rawlinson