World

Tabloid showing Queen giving Nazi salute as child 'disappointing,' palace says

Buckingham Palace expressed its disappointment Saturday with a tabloid newspaper for publishing images of a young Queen Elizabeth II performing a Nazi salute with her family in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler came to power.

Newspaper 'exploited' personal family archive by obtaining images

The palace took the unusual step of commenting on Saturday's report in The Sun newspaper, which shows the Queen, then about 7 years old, at the family home in Balmoral, surrounded by her uncle, mother, and sister. The grainy footage also shows Elizabeth's mother making the salute. (Tim Ireland/Associated Press)

Buckingham Palace expressed its disappointment Saturday with a tabloid newspaper for publishing images of a young Queen Elizabeth II performing a Nazi salute with her family in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler came to power.

The palace took the unusual step of commenting on the report in The Sun newspaper, which shows the queen — then about 7 years old — at the family home in Balmoral, with her uncle Edward, mother and sister. The grainy footage also shows Elizabeth's mother making the salute as the family laughs.

"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 palace said.

The images, posted on the newspaper's website under the headline "Their Royal Heilnesses," shows the young girls prancing on the grass. A dog runs underfoot. The girls jump up and down.

Historian calls it a 'mock' salute

Military historian James Holland told The Sun that the royals were joking.

The Sun's managing editor, Stig Abell, has been quoted as saying the newspaper acted "responsibly in the public interest," when it published the photos, which were taken from a home movie.

"I don't think there was a child in Britain in the 1930s or '40s who has not performed a mock Nazi salute as a bit of a lark," he was quoted as saying.

The Queen's former press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said the royals would be relaxed about the release of the film given the context in which it was shot — and given that the monarch's parents took a fierce anti-Nazi stand during World War II. But he said they would be angry about how the newspaper obtained what is essentially a home movie.

He noted that the true extent of Nazism's evils became known only later.

The Sun's managing editor, Stig Abell, said the footage was obtained legitimately. He told the BBC that the story was "not a criticism of the queen or the Queen Mum."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.