Queen Elizabeth was seen giving a Nazi salute in film footage more than 80 years old, but Buckingham Palace is firing back at the release of the clip this week.
The film clip was published this week in The Sun with the headline “Their Royal Heilnesses,” prompting controversy around the world. The footage came from a home movie showing Queen Elizabeth at age 6 or 7 giving a mock Nazi salute.
But Buckingham Palace is speaking out against release of the footage, which officials said is not representative of the Queen or the royal family.
“It is disappointing that a film, shot eight decades ago and apparently from HM’s personal family archive, has been obtained and exploited in this manner,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement to Us Weekly.
As a source close to the royal family told the UK’s Telegraph, the picture is being taken out of context.
“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 news reels,” the source said. “If you watch the film it is people laughing and joking around and playing, and it was one of the things of the day. No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest.”
The timing of the release is a bit suspect, many believe. Queen Elizabeth just paid a visit to the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she met firsthand with Holocaust survivors.
Some of those survivors praised the role England played in liberating Nazi camps, The Telegraph noted.
“There was nothing, it was the end, there was no food, nothing. The only reason anyone survived was because the British came in time,” said Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, an 89-year-old German Jew who spent time at Bergen-Belsen. “Belsen was complete chaos. People were sent there and sat there and waited until they were dead. We were surrounded by bodies, that was where we lived, among decaying bodies.
“When the British came it was a miracle, we thought we were dreaming, suddenly we heard an English voice.”
Despite the controversy, The Sun is standing by the decision to release footage of Queen Elizabeth giving a Nazi salute, saying it is a criticism of King Edward VIII who “was already a fan of Hitler – and remained so as late as 1970, long after the Holocaust’s horrors were laid bare.”
[Picture by Chris Watt/Getty Images]