by Robert Mendick
19 July 2015
Queen leaves Windsor
Castle for church
as Palace considers legal
action and accuses The Sun
of 'exploiting' the Queen and
her family's memory
The Queen leaves
Windsor Castle to attend church today near Royal Lodge
Photo: JIM BENNETT
Buckingham Palace is considering legal action over the leaking of
film footage apparently showing
the Queen and her mother performing
a Nazi salute.
As her Majesty was pictured in public on Sunday - leaving Windsor
Castle to attend church - for the first time since the story broke,
it emerged the Palace has also begun an inquiry into how the
17-second film clip ended up in the hands of The Sun newspaper
and if there was "any criminality" involved.
It will call in police if it finds any evidence the footage was
stolen from the Royal Archives, housed at Windsor Castle, The
It is now thought that the footage of the then Princess Elizabeth,
aged seven, her sister Margaret and the future
performing the Nazi salute was filmed by the Queen's father, the
future King George VI.
"Access to the Royal Archives is
rare and covered by confidentiality agreements," said a source.
One possibility is that the footage of
the Queen and Queen Mother apparently raising a Nazi salute in 1933
could have been inadvertently handed to film-makers for a tribute
documentary, as part of batch of Royal home movies.
Buckingham Palace is understood to have begun an investigation into
how the material ended up in the hands of The Sun newspaper.
It is considering all avenues, including whether the film was
stolen, while also looking at possible breaches of copyright.
It may even have been handed over by
The tabloid on Saturday published a 17‑second excerpt from the
footage, seemingly showing the future Queen, aged just seven, and
her mother performing the Nazi salute.
The Queen's uncle, the then
Prince of Wales, who would later be 'accused' of being a Nazi
sympathizer, is also featured in the footage performing the salute.
Palace has begun an investigation into the leaking of the footage
It is thought that the future King George VI, the Queen's father,
was behind the camera.
The footage is understood to be part of
a vast collection of photographs, correspondence and home movies
that make up the Royal archive, housed at Windsor Castle.
The Sun has refused to disclose the source but said,
"the original film remains under
lock and key".
It added that,
"several copies of the clip were
made several years ago" and that one copy had been handed to The
Senior sources told The Telegraph
that it was inconceivable that anybody working in the Royal archive
would have leaked such material because of their "loyalty" to the
Outside access to the archive is "rare"
and "tightly controlled".
Film-makers make requests for access to home movie footage for
documentaries including tribute programmes for such events as the
Queen's golden and diamond jubilee celebrations among others.
"This probably happened when
somebody was releasing some footage to a television company and
somebody at the Royal archive didn't see it could be
misinterpreted or else didn't check carefully for what was
in it," said one source.
The except obtained by The Sun is part
of a longer home movie of the then Princess Elizabeth and her family
playing in the grounds of Birkhall, on
the Balmoral estate.
The Sun is understood to have been in possession of the footage for
Buckingham Palace was first made aware
of its existence on Thursday evening, prompting an angry exchange of
letters. The Sun chose to publish on Saturday, to the fury of
Buckingham Palace, which accused the newspaper of exploiting the
Royal family's private archive.
The Queen Mother's official biographer, William Shawcross,
accused the newspaper of a "clear" breach of privacy.
Mr Shawcross said:
"I think it is absolutely outrageous
that The Sun should publish this. It adds nothing to our
historical knowledge. It is children playing with their
parents. Anybody can horse around in their back garden. It means
"When I wrote the official biography of the Queen Mother I spent
six years in the Royal archive going through the Queen Mother's
private letters and there is not a scintilla of evidence of Nazi
sympathies in her letters."
"She wrote of the evil of Nazism. She and the king did more than
anyone apart from Churchill to keep up morale during the war."
Mr Shawcross added:
"There is no way anybody in the
archives has leaked this or anything else. They are totally
scrupulous, honorable people."
Dickie Arbiter, the Queen's
former press secretary, said:
"I would like to think it was
released inadvertently as a bit of harmless 1933 footage without
anybody really knowing what was on it. I think what they
[Buckingham Palace] would probably like to know is where it came
from and who gave it to The Sun."
The Sun's managing editor, Stig Abell, said the footage was
obtained by the newspaper,
"in a legitimate fashion" and that
its publication was "not a criticism of the Queen or the Queen
"It is a historical document that really sheds some insight
into the behavior of Edward VIII," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.
Asked about the complaint by the Palace
that it had been "exploited", he said:
"I understand that they don't like
this coming out but I also feel, on a relatively purist basis,
that the role of journalists and the media is to bring to light
things that happened."
A Palace spokesman said:
"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."