Columnist Hugo Rifkind tweeted: ‘I suppose there’s always a chance that Queen Elizabeth II hadn’t really thought her politics through when she was 7?’
Labour MP Barbara Keeley retweeted a message which said: ‘Hey @TheSun, if you want to stir up some moral outrage about a misjudgement in history, look a bit closer to home.’
The tweet included an image of The Sun’s controversial 1989 front page which criticised Liverpool fans during the Hillsborough disaster.
Matt SW added: ‘All this “Queen does the Nazi salute” thing is ridiculous. She was 7. Are we really judging people based on what they did when they were 7?’
Buckingham Palace said last night said the seven-year-old Queen was simply ‘playing’ with her family in the archive video.
‘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,’ a spokesman said.
A Palace source added: ‘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.
‘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.’
The clip, released by The Sun last night, shows the Queen Mother also saluting proudly alongside Princess Margaret, aged three. They are encouraged by Edward VIII, who is known to have harboured Nazi sympathies.
The grainy black-and-white photograph was taken just as Hitler was rising to power in Germany, seven years before the outbreak of the Second World War and before the atrocities of the Third Reich terrorised Europe.
At the age of seven, the Queen is unlikely to have understood the full the implications of making a Nazi salute.
Royal commentator and the Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter said there would be great interest in royal circles in finding out how the footage – from the monarch’s private archives – was made public.
He told Sky News: ‘I would like to think it was released inadvertently as a bit of harmless 1933 footage without anybody really knowing what was on it.
‘I think what they (Buckingham Palace) would probably like to know is where it came from and who gave it to The Sun.’
The Palace is expected to look into whether a crime has been committed in the leaking of the film, which belongs to the royal family.
RUPERT MURDOCH: THE STAUNCH REPUBLICAN WHO OWNS THE SUN
Anti-monarchist: Rupert Murdoch, the head of News UK that owns The Sun, is a well-known opponent of the Royal family
Rupert Murdoch, head of News UK that owns The Sun, is well known for his anti-Monarchy stances – with Saturday’s outrageous front page only the latest example of their bias.
Australian Murdoch has a dislike for the British establishment, wrote the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in 2014, quoting one insider saying: ‘He admires the Queen, but in his heart he’s a republican, he’d like to be left wing,’
Murdoch has described the British Royal family as ‘irrelevant’. and as a stauch Republican urged that his homeland of Australia abandon the monarchy.
And despite commentators bemoaning the wealth of the Royal family, his amassed wealth from his media empire is much higher – worth a whopping $77billion, according to this year’s Forbes Rich List.
But The Sun defended its use of the footage, saying the photographs ‘provide a fascinating insight in the warped prejudices of Edward VIII and his friends in that bleak, paranoid, tumultuous decade’.
It added that the footage casts ‘important new light on the Royal Family’s attitudes towards Germany in the 1930s – and the influence of Nazi-loving Edward’.
The newspaper#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 BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He added: ‘I understand that they (Buckingham 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.
‘What we have done is just brought to light an historical document and we have sought to present it in a contextual fashion around Edward VIII and have made the point relatively clearly I hope that we recognise, of course, that the Queen and the Queen Mum went on to become heroes of the Second World War and there are no aspersions being cast upon them by the Sun.’
The Nazi salute became a symbol of fear across Europe after the rise of Hitler, but in the years leading up to the Second World War it did not have the universally recognised connotations that it has today.
Respected military historian James Holland told The Sun: ‘They are all having a laugh, there are lots of smiles, so it’s all a big joke.
‘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.
‘It just shows the Royal Family are as human as the next man.’
The historian added that while it was no secret that Edward VIII met Hitler and was known to have been sympathetic to Nazism, the same cannot be said about the Queen Mother or King George VI.
He continued that both the Queen Mother and King George were ‘completely steadfast from start to finish’ in their opposition to the Nazis, in the ‘fight against that tyranny’.
Members of the Royal Family were not the only British citizens to perform the salute in the pre-war period. In 1938, the English football team did so in unison before the start of a friendly game against Germany in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
The footballers’ action was met with derision, because by then Hitler had annexed Austria and his anti-Jewish measures were already advanced.
The leaked footage is the only pictorial evidence of Edward VIII doing the Nazi gesture, but he is also known to have performed it at other times.
Edward VIII, faced numerous accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser, abdicated in 1936 less than a year after becoming King to marry Wallis Simpson.
He once gave a Nazi salute to Hitler and claimed he was ‘not a bad chap’.
Edward was photographed meeting Hitler in Munich in October 1937, less than two years before the Second World War broke out.
In January 1933, the year the footage was filmed, Hitler became chancellor of Germany and by August 1934, he had declared himself Führer, the leader of Germany.
The Sun quotes prominent German historian Dr Karina Urbach, a top Nazi expert, who described the film as ‘remarkable’.
EDWARD VIII: THE KING WHO WAS ALSO A NAZI SYMPATHIZER
The extent of former King of England Edward VIII’s Nazi sympathies were laid bare in the Mail On Sunday in March – in addition to the efforts made by the Establishment to destroy vital documents they feared could bring down the House of Windsor.
Edward began communicating with Hitler shortly after he was elected Chancellor in 1933 – the same year Queen Elizabeth II, then seven, was pictured making a Nazi salute.
Hitler even tried to marry Edward, then Prince of Wales, to a young German princess as he increasingly became seen as a friend and ally of the Nazi regime.
After his abdication in 1936, Edward became an outspoken critic of Churchill and was convinced that if he had stayed on the throne war would have been averted in Germany.
He spent his honeymoon in Austria before the war and visited Germany in October 1937 as Hitler’s honoured guest – with the Fuhrer hoping he would become his ‘puppet king’. The Nazis even had a code name for the plot – Operation Will.
Pro-Nazi comments made by Edward were ‘tantamount to treason’, historian John Costello said, as the then-Duke even told a reporter during the war: ‘It would be a tragic thing for the world if Hitler was overthrown, Hitler is the right and logical leader of the German people. Hitler is a very great man.’
‘Edward was already welcoming the regime as Prince of Wales in 1933 and remained pro-Nazi after war broke out in 1939.’
She added: ‘Hitler’s movement had been growing fast since 1929 and many German relatives of the Royal Family were attracted to it.’
The University of London academic added that the royals could have ‘seen the salute on newsreels’ and that they were copying it.
She said the ‘issue of Edward’s politics and their impact upon his generation within the Royal Family’ should be ‘brought into the open’ for serious research.
Dr Karina Urbach has previously claimed that Edward VIII wanted Britain to be bombed into an alliance with the Third Reich and blamed ‘Jews and Reds’ for World War II.
The black-and-white footage, which lasts around 17 seconds, shows the family playing with one of the two royal corgis, named Dookie and Jane, on the lawn.
Margaret waves excitedly with both hands before Elizabeth breaks into a Scottish jig.
The Queen Mother can then be seen performing a Nazi salute, and Princess Elizabeth follows suit, both standing straight-backed holding their right arm aloft. Prince Edward joins in before the clip cuts to a close up of the faces of the two princesses.
Juliet Gardiner, former editor of History Today and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, said: ‘It’s an insight into British attitudes towards Germany at that time in 1933, long before everyone really realised Hitler’s designs on Europe. It is absolutely right that the public sees it.’
The last scandal linking the royals to Nazi Germany involved Prince Harry being photographed in 2005 wearing a Nazi uniform to a friend’s fancy dress party in Wiltshire.
The Prince, 20 years old at the time, was shown holding a drink and a cigarette and dressed in a shirt altered to look like a German uniform by the addition of collar flashes and an eagle insignia on the chest.
He was forced to apologise for the incident after it made headlines around the world.
The furore was met with calls for the Prince to be stripped of his place as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst
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