It’s a bizarre day when one finds himself in agreement with The Sun newspaper.
They have just released a front page that depicts a still-frame of dubiously obtained footage from Balmoral in 1933. It depicts the Queen Mother and her brother-in-law, Prince Edward, corralling the six year old Queen Elizabeth and her sister into raising a Nazi salute.
They have since been subject to the sort of derision that would normally seem just about right. The paper’s shameful history on matters such as The Falkland War and the Hillsborough Disaster are marred further by pretty much daily swipes at its own credibility. For instance, by recently publishing a near-fascist column piece by the much condemned Katie Hopkins.
The Sun did indeed choose to do the right thing in publishing the archived footage.
High-ranking members of the paper responded to the scandal rather eloquently, which proves that the tabloid dumbs its content down for the market it claims to represent. The Sun did indeed choose to do the right thing in publishing the archived footage, and we should demand more word on it than just the palace’s press-office.
Okay, the story came with The Sun logo and a rubbish pun. But, the main objection to the print-piece was that the Queen was well beyond the age of culpability for throwing up a Nazi salute. This is absolutely correct; the footage by no means provides a shadow of evidence that this six year old child understands nor is capable of subscribing to the politics of the gesture.
Even were she able to; damning a person for one foolish moment is the exact sort of dealing The Sun and other members of the Murdoch press are too commonly guilty off; the photographs that emerged of a teenage Prince Harry in SS fancy dress for example do not by any means make him a Nazi; just a little thoughtless and young.
The footage by no means provides a shadow of evidence that this six year old child understands nor is capable of subscribing to the politics of the gesture.
The public reaction to the footage, though, has been bizarre. Ricky Gervais was very quick to dismiss the whole affair off hand because of her age. An article recently published in the Daily Mail collates examples of people ridiculing the scene with pictures of baby pandas, Snooty and Saturday Night Fever’s John Travolta raising their right arms – framing it as a revelation of comparable merit.
The fact the Queen was a child, however, does not lessen the gravity of the archive footage. The images in said Daily Mail fluff-piece all allude to people doing the salute by coincidence. But the 1933 video is nothing so trivial – it demonstrates Prince Edward as the supporter of an evil, despicable regime, by a salute that his own history confirms was meant in all sincerity.
The palace unsurprisingly has expressed ‘disappointment’ at the way the footage was obtained; from a private archive. This is nothing more than a shameful obfuscation of culpability away from the Royal Family and onto the tabloid journalists, evading the real investigation that needs to be conducted.
When the former King’s hand rises in the footage, it is in support of the fascist state Adolf Hitler was already working on putting into practice in 1933; in hatred of an impure society and in opposition to democracy.
A Nazi salute is not a personal matter; it’s a political statement from supposedly apolitical figures. When the former King’s hand rises in the footage, it is in support of the fascist state Adolf Hitler was already working on putting into practice in 1933; in hatred of an impure society and in opposition to democracy. And, according to The Sun, Edward persisted, even after the horrors of the Third Reich, that Hitler was “not a bad chap.”
It is also strange why the fully-grown Queen Mother is absolved from scrutiny. The Telegraph embarrassingly concludes that the royals were just taking the piss; despite the fact the Queen Mother was in Germany in 1932 and Italy in 1929, and so would have known exactly what the salute meant. It has already been demonstrated that the aristocracy saw the Nazi movement as a useful tool to combat communism. But further investigation should also be conducted into why this woman, who mothered our head of state, joined in gesticulating in this way. Fully aware of its political attachments, if not perhaps the extent of the horrors that would later unfold because of them.
The recent actions of Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Phillip, would have been met with universal damnation if performed by anyone else. All three of whose sisters coincidentally were members of the Nazi party and married men in the SS. We have all enjoyed the wacky things he has said over his wife’s reign; but his royalty makes exceptions of him. As it has done with this salute.
Saying ‘slitty-eyed’ or asking a Kenyan lady if she’s a woman isn’t kooky, it’s racist. Comparing a wife to a prostitute isn’t wacky, it’s just sexist.
If he was just ‘Phillip’ it would be clear to all what he is; not a goof, but a bigot. Saying ‘slitty-eyed’ or asking a Kenyan lady if she’s a woman isn’t kooky, it’s racist. Comparing a wife to a prostitute isn’t wacky, it’s just sexist. But, it’s not surprising that he thinks this way. Born into the Greek and Danish Royal families, he has lived the ultimate sheltered life. This should also probably draw into question the savviness of the continued use of this royal institution. But the Prince is another Royal who fails to be called upon to apologise for his backwards principles; thanks to the house he lives in.
Of course, this by no means suggests that the Queen shares any of the traits of those she marries or those who raised her. But it’s the responsibility of Elizabeth, her own independent woman, and one holding a position of almost unparalleled stature, to answer to her ‘subjects’ and denounce the politics of those adults who horribly put their worldview onto a six year old child.
The Queen is a tourist attraction and national institution but she is not some cutesy personality.
Royalist or otherwise; there is no rationale in making her exempt from the demands that would be made of any other powerful figure. Any politician caught conducting similar behaviour, even as a youth, in footage like this; any celebrity, any person in public service at all – would have to make clear that they have no affiliation with the views contained within.
The Queen is a tourist attraction and national institution but she is not some cutesy personality. She is a woman of great power, and a nation’s affection for her should not cloud the shady politics that she must dissociate herself from publicly. A personal statement is all it would take. But we have to demand this of Queen Elizabeth, for otherwise she is above the code and conduct of our civil society. Not the modern monarch she is supposedly a model for, but something much more medieval.
Liam Inscoe – Jones
Image by shining.darkness via Flickr.