A photograph of a young Queen Elizabeth II seen giving the Nazi salute has been splashed across the headlines over the last few days after a British tabloid published it on their front page.
Defending the photograph of the Nazi salute, which was taken over 80 years ago, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in a statement, “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 royal source, speaking anonymously, told AFP an investigation has been launched into how the Sun obtained the photograph of the Nazi salute.
“We’re trying to ascertain where the footage came from. There are questions about copyright and there may be possible questions about criminality.”
Legal action could be taken against the tabloid depending on the results of the investigation.
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) July 19, 2015
The image of the Nazi salute is from a 20-second home movie, which the Sun reports was shot in Scotland in 1933 or 1934 and has never been made public before. It’s doubtful Queen Elizabeth II would have known the significance of the Nazi salute at the tender age of 6 or 7, though her uncle, Edward, was said to be a Nazi sympathizer. Edward, the future King Edward VIII, is also in the home movie and appears to encourage the young Queen to perform the Nazi salute.
Edward met Hitler in Germany in 1937 after abdicating as king to marry U.S. divorcee Wallis Simpson. While many believe Edward was a Nazi sympathizer, others aren’t so sure because there isn’t precise evidence as to any ties he may have had to Hitler — at least none that have been made public. After his death in 1972, documents relating to Edward’s life remain locked away.
The managing editor of the Sun, Stig Abell, continues to defend the publication of the Nazi salute image, claiming it was obtained legitimately and was “not a criticism of the queen or the queen mum.”
Abell told BBC radio, “It is a historical document that really sheds some insight in to the behaviour of Edward VIII. I understand that they (the palace) don’t like this coming out but I also feel, on a relatively purist basis, that the role of journalists and the media is to bring to light things that happened.”
Though the image of the Nazi salute is what stands out the most in the public eye thanks to its capture on the Sun’s front page, Queen Elizabeth II also dances in the home movie and plays with a corgi. A royal source speaking anonymously said the Queen would have been “entirely innocent of attaching any meaning to these gestures” at her young age.
The source also said, “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… No one at that time had any sense how [the situation in Germany] would evolve.”
What do you think of the Queen’s Nazi salute? Has the footage been blown out of proportion?
[Photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images]