Queen seen ‘giving Nazi salute’ in childhood home movie
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Images allegedly showing a young Queen Elizabeth II giving a Nazi salute in the 1930s were released by the British newspaper The Sun on Saturday, prompting Buckingham Palace to accuse the tabloid of having “exploited” personal family film footage.
The front page of The Sun showed the queen, then aged around six, raising her right hand in the air as her mother, the late Queen Mother, does the same.
The headline on the story read: "Their Royal Heilnesses" – a reference to the "Heil Hitler" greeting used in Nazi Germany.
The images come from a 20-second black and white home movie which The Sun reported was shot at the royal family's rural Balmoral estate in Scotland in 1933 or 1934, when Hitler was rising to power in Germany.
The film has also been published online by the newspaper.
It was unclear how the Sun, the same newspaper that ten years ago published a photograph of Prince Harry wearing a swastika armband to a friend's fancy dress party, had obtained the foootage.
"It is disappointing that film shot eight decades ago and apparently from HM's (her majesty's) personal family archive has been obtained and exploited in this manner," a spokesman for Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The video shows the young future queen briefly raising her right hand in the air three times, as well as dancing around excitedly and playing with a corgi.
The group, which also included the queen's sister Princess Margaret, were apparently being encouraged by the queen's uncle, the future king Edward VIII.
Edward faced accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser, an issue still debated in Britain and met Hitler in Germany in 1937 after having abdicated as king the previous year over his desire to marry US divorcee Wallis Simpson.
The Sun defended its decision to release the images, saying they offered "a fascinating insight in the warped prejudices of Edward VIII".
"We publish them today knowing they do not reflect badly on our queen, her late sister or mother in any way," it added.
A royal source speaking on condition of anonymity said that the queen would have been "entirely innocent of attaching any meaning to these gestures" at such a young age.
"The queen and her family's service and dedication to the welfare of this nation during the war (World War II) and the 63 years the queen has spent building relations between nations and peoples speaks for itself," the source added.
The source also claimed that "no one at that time had any sense how it (the situation in Germany) would evolve".
The affection in which many Britons still hold the Queen Mother, who died in 2002, is based on her and husband King George VI's decision to stay in London during World War II and visit bomb sites caused by German aerial attacks known as The Blitz.
The queen paid a state visit to Germany last month during which she went to Bergen-Belsen, her first visit to a former Nazi camp, where some 52,000 people died, including teenage Jewish diarist Anne Frank.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)