LONDON • Buckingham Palace voiced disappointment after a British newspaper yesterday published images allegedly showing a young Queen Elizabeth II giving a Nazi salute in the early 1930s.
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 HM's (Her Majesty's) personal family archive has been obtained and exploited in this manner," a spokesman for Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
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, The Sun - Britain's top-selling newspaper - published a photograph of Prince Harry 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 home movie which The Sun reported was shot at the royal family's Balmoral estate in Scotland in 1933 or 1934 and has never been made public before. The video shows the young girl briefly raising her right hand in the air three times, as well as dancing around excitedly and playing with a corgi. The group, which 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 is 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 into 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."