Passersby were stunned to see the Queen behind the wheel of a green Jaguar as she drove herself to church yesterday – her first appearance since the Sun newspaper ran an image of eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth giving a Nazi salute.
Palace aides have launched an inquiry into the leak of the 17-second home movie and Buckingham Palace has confirmed it is considering legal action if any criminal activity in found.
The clip is from the royal family’s highly-restricted private archive and is thought to have been filmed by the Queen’s father King George VI.
However, the Palace has refused to be drawn into a debate over whether these and other private archives held at Windsor castle should be released as historical documents.
Historians are saying that releasing some of the material, which stretches back more than 250 years, would add to the country’s knowledge of the Queen and provide important historical context to the links between some leading royals and the Third Reich before the second world war.
Mark Almond, professor of modern history at Oxford University, told The Guardian: “Opening up aspects of the Queen’s early years is not going to damage respect for the monarchy. It can only reinforce her standing with the public.
“This film reminds us of how many challenges this country has overcome in the last eight decades under the Windsors.”
Interestingly, German newspaper Bild has slammed the Sun and its owner Rupert Murdoch’s decision to run the images as a cynical grab for money and attention. It also took a shot at the British attitude to Germany’s shared past.
“It seems hard for the British to understand that we ‘Krauts’ don’t really find Hitler so funny. And so it’s clearly said here: the man is the biggest mass murderer in history. In contrast, the British find it ‘funny’ if Prince Harry turns up at a party with a Nazi armband,” wrote the editor.
Do you think this royal family’s private archive should be released to the public?