Newly published film shows British queen’s ‘Nazi salute’ as a child

A 20-second black and white home movie from 1933 or 1934, obtained by the UK's top-selling newspaper, shows the monarch, aged six, raising her right hand in the air, as the late Queen Mother, does the same.

A row of newspapers on display in a London shop includes a copy of The Sun, which shows a picture of Britain's Queen Elizabeth as a child, giving a Nazi salute. Tim Ireland/AP Photo
Powered by automated translation

LONDON // Buckingham Palace criticised the UK’s top-selling newspaper on Saturday after it published a previously unknown film from 1933 that appears to show Queen Elizabeth performing a Nazi salute as a young girl.

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.

“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,” said a spokesman for Buckingham Palace.

While a royal source insisted that the queen would not have known the significance of the gesture at such a young age, the images threaten to cause deep embarrassment for the 89-year-old monarch.

Ten years ago, it was also The Sun, a tabloid newspaper, which published a photograph of Prince Harry – the queen's grandson – wearing a swastika armband to a friend's fancy dress party. The fifth in line to the throne later apologised.

The images showing the alleged Nazi salute 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 and has never been made public before.

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.

The precise nature of Edward’s links to the Nazis are still debated in Britain, with some historians accusing him of being sympathetic to Adolf Hitler’s regime.

He 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.

* Agence France-Presse