Newspaper article International New York Times

Nazi Salute by Royals in 1930s Stirs Anger in U.K

Newspaper article International New York Times

Nazi Salute by Royals in 1930s Stirs Anger in U.K

Article excerpt

Some critics have assailed The Sun for publishing a video of the salute, but others have commended it for prodding a historical reckoning.

The grainy black-and-white home movie lasts about 17 seconds. It shows a young Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II, raising her hand in the air in the style of a Nazi salute, an apparent youthful pantomime. The Queen Mother and Elizabeth's uncle, Prince Edward, who would become King Edward VIII, also make the gesture.

Three days after the footage of the royal family, taken in 1933 or 1934, was published on the website of The Sun, the images of the young Elizabeth continued to reverberate throughout Britain on Monday. The story -- under the headline "Their Royal Heilnesses" -- has stirred debates about the limits of press freedom and royal privacy; the imperative of historical transparency; and whether an 89-year-old monarch should be judged for a gesture made when she was 6 or 7 years old.

Indeed, some critics have assailed The Sun for publishing the video, saying it unfairly sullies the image of a future queen who was too young to understand the meaning of what she was doing. There has also been an outpouring of support for the queen, a beloved and unifying figure, on social media.

But other commentators have praised the newspaper for prodding a historical reckoning, saying it could enhance understanding of the royal family's attitudes toward Nazi Germany, in particular those of Prince Edward, who has been accused of sympathizing with the Nazis. As Edward VIII, he renounced the throne in December 1936 to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

"It is disappointing that film shot eight decades ago and apparently from H.M.'s personal family archive has been obtained and exploited in this manner," Buckingham Palace said. It is not clear how The Sun obtained the footage.

Mayor Boris Johnson of London defended the queen and argued that the royal family could not have foreseen Hitler's future barbarism. "It makes my blood boil to think that anyone should use this image in any way to impugn the extraordinary record of service of Her Majesty to this country," Mr. …

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