A British tabloid published on its website a 20-second home video showing Queen Elizabeth II as a 7-year-old girl giving a Nazi salute.
The Sun newspaper on the front page of its Saturday edition also displayed a photo lifted from the video, along with eight pages of articles that its managing editor, Stig Abell, told Sky News puts it into “context.”
“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 in a statement published by The Associated Press.
Buckingham Palace reportedly has ordered an investigation into the publication of the images, including how the tabloid obtained the footage.
In the video, the young princess and her sister Margaret, 3, are shown dancing and smiling as the future British king, Edward VIII, instructs his nieces how to perform the Nazi Heil Hitler salute. Some historians have accused Edward of being sympathetic to Adolf Hitler’s regime; Edward abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Queen Elizabeth, 89, is widely popular in Britain and it is not believed that the images will damage her reputation, according to reports.
The Sun said in an explanatory editorial why it published the images.
“What gives The Sun’s extraordinary images such historical significance, and the reason we believe the public has a right finally to see them, is the involvement of the Queen’s uncle Edward,” the editorial said.
“The man who briefly became our King was already a fan of Hitler — and remained so as late as 1970, long after the Holocaust’s horrors were laid bare.”
The editorial continued: “Princess Elizabeth, our future Queen, played her part by joining up at 16.
“Meanwhile Edward was indirectly urging Germany to continue bombing us into a speedy surrender.
“These images have lain hidden for 82 years. We publish them today, knowing they do not reflect badly on our Queen, her late sister or mother in any way.”