Buckingham Palace says it is “disappointing” The Sun newspaper has released a film showing the Queen and Queen mother giving Nazi salutes around 1933.
The Queen, who was then aged six or seven, is shown at Balmoral raising her arm in a Nazi salute as she played alongside her sister Margaret, the Queen mother and her uncle Prince Edward.
A Buckingham 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.”
I understand that they don’t like this coming out The Sun’s managing editor
The film lasts about 17 seconds, and shows the Queen Mother making a Nazi salute, then the Queen glancing towards her and mimicking the gesture.
The Queen Mother repeats the salute, joined by Edward, and Margaret raises her left hand before the two children continue playing on the grass.
A Palace source was quoted as saying 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 news reels.
“No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest.
They do not reflect badly on our Queen Sun editorial
“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.”
Edward later became King Edward VIII and abdicated to marry the American socialite Wallis Simpson. He had 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.
The footage is thought to have been shot in 1933 or 1934, when Adolf Hitler was rising to prominence as Germany’s leader.
The Sun defended publishing the footage, saying it was of great public importance and historical significance because of the involvement of Edward.
In an editorial column the newspaper said: “Here he is, in our pictures, apparently teaching his royal nieces the same Nazi greeting he would give Hitler personally at his mountain retreat four years later.”
The paper defended the Queen mother and the Queen, highlighting their own patriotism and courage during the Second World War.
“These images have lain hidden for 82 years. We publish them today, knowing they do not reflect badly on our Queen, her late sister or mother in any way,” it added.
“They do, however, provide a fascinating insight in the warped prejudices of Edward VIII and his friends in that bleak, paranoid, tumultuous decade.”
The Sun’s managing editor Stig Abell said the footage was obtained by the newspaper “in a legitimate fashion” and that its publication was “not a criticism of the Queen or the Queen Mum”.
“It is a historical document that really sheds some insight in to the behaviour of Edward VIII,” he told the BBC.
Asked about the complaint by the Palace that it had been “exploited”, he said: “I understand that they 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.”