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The movie is just 20 sec­onds long, but its ef­fects on the Royal Fam­ily’s rep­u­ta­tion will linger for decades, hang­ing over the House of Wind­sor like a black cloud.

The grainy black-and-white footage is shot in the gar­dens of Bal­moral Cas­tle, be­tween 1933 and 1934. Frol­ick­ing around on the lawns are the Queen Mother, Prince Ed­ward (who’d later be­come King Ed­ward VIII), Princess Mar­garet – and a seven-year-old Princess Eliz­a­beth.

At first, there’s noth­ing sin­is­ter about the video. The fam­ily are play­ing with the royal cor­gis. Then, out of the blue, it hap­pens: the girl who one day will be Queen faces the cam­era and raises her arm in what ap­pears to be a Nazi salute, fol­lowed by her mother and Un­cle Ed­ward. The two adults then en­cour­age Mar­garet to fol­low suit.

The con­tro­ver­sial film, first leaked by the UK news­pa­per The Sun in July 2015, sent shock­waves through Bri­tish so­ci­ety. Here was a fu­ture monarch, now head of state and the Com­mon­wealth, per­form­ing a ri­tual that had be­come Hitler­hitler’ss trade­mark as the Nazi Party rose to power dur­ing the 1930s. Even more stag­ger­ing is the fact that just seven years later, the Queen Mother and her hus­band Ge­orge VI would be­come sym­bols of wartime de­fi­ance as Lon­don was bombed dur­ing the Blitz of 1940.

His­to­ri­ans, though, are quick to pour wa­ter over sug­ges­tions that the Queen or the Queen Mother were ever Nazi sym­pa­this­ers, , point­ing out that the video needs to be watched in con­text. Re­spect­ed­spected scholar James Hol­land toldd The Sun: “They are all hav­ing a laugh, there are lots of smiles, so it’s all a big joke. I don’t thinknk there was a child in Bri­tain in the 19301930s0s or 40s who has not per­forme­dr­formed a mock Nazi salute as a bit of a lalark.rk. It just shows the Roy­alyal Fam­ily are as hu­man as thee next man.”

Oth­ers his­to­ri­ans have com­mented that agedged seven, the now-90-year-old monarch couldn’t have com­pre­hended mpre­hended the fu­ture im­pli­ca­tion­sa­tions of mak­ing a Nazi salute.

What’s not upp for de­bate, how­ever, are the right-wing in­cli­na­tions of Prince Ed­ward, who a cou­plcou­plelee of years af­ter the footage was s shot would briefly­briefly be King be­fore con­tro­ver­sially ab­di­cat­ing. Ed­ward’s links with Hitler’s fas­cism are a poorly kept se­cret. He once de­scribed the Führer as “a decent chap”.

“It is right that it [the film] is put into the public do­main,” says Dr Ka­rina Ur­bach from the In­sti­tute of His­tor­i­cal Re­search. “It’s high time the Royal Ar­chives were open for se­ri­ous re­search on the 1930s and the is­sue of Ed­ward’s pol­i­tics and their im­pact up­oupon his gen­er­a­tion within the Royal Fam­ily.” Ththese views are ex­plored in more de­tail over the page… >

“It is dis­ap­point­ing that decades film shot eight from ago and ap­par­ently per­sonal Her Majesty’s have been fam­ily archive ex­ploited in ob­tained and this man­ner.” State­ment from Palace Buck­ing­ham


To the av­er­age Brit, Ed­ward VIII is a ro­man­ti­cised fig­ure; the hand­some devil of a king who ab­di­cated from the throne in or­der to marry his true love, the twice-di­vorced Amer­i­can, Wal­lis Simp­son. His­tory has proved, how­ever, that the debonair monarch hid a darker side from the public, one which har­boured far-right-wing views and a ques­tion­able re­la­tion­ship with Hitler.

Like mostst of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily (see page 14), King Ed­ward had close ties with Ger­many.many. His par­ents Queen Mary and Ge­orgege V boasted strong Ger­manic her­itage. Ed­ward him­self was flu­ent in the Ger­man lan­guage, once telling his friend Diana Mosley, wife of Bri­tish fas­cist leader Oswald Mosley, that “ev­ery drop of blood in my veins is Ger­man.”

This ex­tended to his pol­i­tics. Ed­ward, like many Bri­tish aris­to­crats of the era, feared Com­mu­nism, which at the time had a foothold in Rus­sia un­der Stalin, and was spread­ing through both south­ern and eastern Europe. The only weaponn to de­feat the Red Men­ace was, Ed­ward be­lieved,be­lie the brand of fas­cism prac­ticed by the Nazis.

Af­ter Hitler’s party rose to pow­er­powe in 1933, one of Ed­ward’s equer­ries, Sir Dud­ley For­wood, re­ported: “We were none of us averse to Hitler po­lit­i­cally. We felt the Nazi regime

“The Führer hoped to in­stall Ed­ward back on the throne once the Nazis con­quered Eng­land.” An­drew Mor­ton, royal bi­og­ra­pher.

w was a more ap­pro­pri­ate govern­ment th than the Weimar Republic, which ha had been ex­tremely so­cial­ist.”

If Ed­ward was drawn to Hitler, th then the feel­ing was mu­tual. A Ac­cord­ing to An­drew Mor­ton’s book 1 17 Car­na­tions: The Roy­als, The N Nazis And The Big­gest Cover-up In His­tory – a pub­li­ca­tion which Bbuck­ing­ham Palace tried to ban – the Führer be­gan woo­ing Ed­ward soon af­ter be­com­ing chan­cel­lor in 1933, en­cour­ag­ing teenage Ger­man aris­to­crat Princess Friederike to ro­mance the then-bach­e­lor prince. Hitler hoped to re­vive by­gone days when English and Ger­man roy­alty only mar­ried each other.

Ed­ward even­tu­ally wed Mrs Simp­son but that didn’t stop Hitler from invit­ing Ed­ward and his wife – now ti­tled the Duke and Duchess of Wwind­sor post-ab­di­ca­tion – to visit hhim at his Ger­man moun­tain re­treat inn Ococ­to­ber 1937. Ed­ward and Hitler hhad a 50-min­minute pri­vate chat, the ccon­tents of which rere­main a mys­tery too this day. In­fa­mously, Ed­wed­ward eex­changed Nazi salutes with Hitler.

An­drew Mor­ton seems to cconfirm a stag­ger­ing ru­mour ththathat had been cir­cu­lat­ing for yyears: that Hitler planned to eestab­lish Ed­ward as a ‘pup­pet king’ iff he suc­ceeded in de­feat­ing Bbri­tain ddur­ing World War Two.

“The Führer hoped to in­sin­stall Eed­ward back on the thron­throne once the Nnazis con­quered Englaneng­land,” writes Mmor­ton. “Hitler had or­dordered Span­ish fr­friend­sriends of the duke to try and cconvince him to stay in Europe, oof­fer­ing him a castl­cas­tle in south­ern Ss­pain and more ththan $100 mil­lion aas sweet­en­ers. Bbut the Duke and Dduchess were tter­ri­fied by Nazi­inin­spiredn­spired ru­mou­ru­mours that the Bri­tish in­in­tend­ed­ntended to mmur­der them — a rea­son­rea­son­able as­sump­tion given Cchurchill’s ac­ri­mo­nious re­la­tion­ship wwith the eex-king. Un­der enor­mous pres­sure­pres­sure, the cou­ple fled to the Ba­ham­ba­hamas, and Hitler was left empty-pty­handed.”


Un­der Bri­tish law, govern­ment doc­u­ments de­clared to be in the public in­ter­est must be trans­ferred to the openly ac­ces­si­ble Na­tional Ar­chives af­ter 30 years, un­less they pose a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity. Why, then, are the Royal Ar­chives not sub­ject to this kind of scru­tiny? This is the ques­tion be­ing posed by his­to­ri­ans af­ter the Queen’s Nazi salute footage was anony­mously linked to The Sun news­pa­per last year (see pages 10-11). Es­pe­cially since these files are be­lieved to con­tain large vol­umes of cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the royal fam­ily and var­i­ous Nazi politi­cians and aris­to­crats.

“The royal fam­ily can’t sup­press their own his­tory for­ever,” says Ka­rina Ur­bach of the In­sti­tute of His­tor­i­cal Re­search. “This is cen­sor­ship. Cen­sor­ship is not a demo­cratic value. They have to face their past. I’m com­ing from a coun­try, Ger­many, where we all have to face our past.”

Ur­bach, author of Go-be­tweens For Hitler, a book about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the roy­als and the Nazis, has spent years try­ing to get her hands on doc­u­ments in the Royal Archive re­lat­ing to Nazi Ger­many – with no luck. She claims she’s seen rows of boxes con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion on the all-im­por­tant 1930s era that’s off-lim­its to ev­ery­one, even sug­gest­ing that cer­tain files be­long­ing to this pe­riod “no longer ex­isted”.

“The Ar­chives are a beau­ti­ful place to work but not if you want to work on 20th-cen­tury ma­te­rial… you don’t get any ac­cess to any­thing po­lit­i­cal af­ter 1918. We know that af­ter ’45 there was a big clean-up op­er­a­tion. The roy­als were very wor­ried about cor­re­spon­dence resur­fac­ing and so it was de­stroyed.”

Still, Buck­ing­ham Palace hasn’t been able to to­tally con­trol the flow of in­for­ma­tion. Much of the juici­est knowl­edge about the link be­tween the roy­als and the Nazis may have been swept un­der the car­pet if it wasn’t for the ef­forts of two Amer­i­can­mer­i­can aca­demics, Pro­fes­sor David Har­ris (then work­ing withh the US State Depart­ment) and Dr Paul Sweet, who suc­cess­fully cam­paigned for the so-called Wind­sor File – which amongg other things re­vealed Ed­ward VIII’S re­la­tion­ship with Hitler – to fi­nally be pub­lished in 1957, af­ter years of le­gal wran­gling. >


You know him as Prince Philip, Duke of Ed­in­burgh, hus­band and con­sort to the Queen. His full name is less fa­mil­iar and rarely used in public: Philip Mount­bat­ten. But that it­self doesn’t tell the full story. Mount­bat­ten is, in fact, an an­gli­cised ver­sion of the dy­nas­tic name Bat­ten­berg, which Philip’s Ger­man fam­ily mem­bers adopted dur­ing World War One due to the Bri­tish public’s anti-ger­man feel­ing.

And here’s where it gets re­ally in­ter­est­ing. The prince him­self took the Mount­bat­ten name in 1947, when he mar­ried Princess Eliz­a­beth. The deed may have helped de­flect at­ten­tion away from the Prince’s lesser-known her­itage, as a fully paid up mem­ber of the House of Sch­leswig-hol­stein-son­der­burgGlücks­burg – a prom­i­nent Ger­man royal dy­nasty.

The now 94-year-old Duke of Ed­in­burgh was born Prince Philip of Greece and Den­mark in 1921. He’s been de­scribed by bi­og­ra­phers as hav­ing an un­set­tled, lonely child­hood; his par­ents sep­a­rated af­ter his schiz­o­phrenic mother was put into a men­tal hos­pi­tal, and he was moved from school to school, from coun­try to coun­try. One of these es­tab­lish­ments was Schule Schloss Salem in south­ern Ger­many, where he ar­rived in the au­tumn of 1933, eight months af­ter Hitler had been in power. Schloss Salem was one of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent schools, and the Nazis’ Hitler Youth move­ment quickly ce­mented its hold over the place, mak­ing all the boys – in­clud­ing Philip – per­form Nazi salutes. He stayed for just two years, be­fore be­ing shipped to Gor­don­stoun school in Scot­land.

While there’s no sug­ges­tion that Prince Philip – who went on to fight against the Ger­mans in World War Two in the Bri­tish Royal Navy – ever had Nazi sym­pa­thies, the same per­haps can’t be said of three of his

sis­ters, Mar­garita, Ce­cile and So­phie, all of whom mar­ried Ger­man aris­to­crats with se­nior po­si­tions in the Nazi Party.

Last year, an English TV doc­u­men­tary en­ti­tled Prince Philip: The Plot To Make A King, broad­casted ex­cerpts from the me­moirs of one of those sib­lings – Princess So­phie – in which she de­scribes Hitler as a “charm­ing and seem­ingly mod­est man”. When she gave birth to her first son with hus­band Prince Christoph von Hessen, the chief of Her­mann Go­er­ing’s se­cret in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, she named him Karl Adolf in hon­our of the Führer.

The doc­u­men­tary also re­vealede­vealed pho­tos of a 16-year-old Prin­ceince Ph­philiphilip at­tend­ing a Nazi fu­neral in Darm­st­darm­stadt,tadt, near Frank­furt (see photo op­po­sitep­po­site page), af­ter his sis­ter Ce­cile was killed in an air crash in 1937.. Philipp is dressed som­brely in a dark over­coat, but he’s flanked by griev­ing rel­a­tives,el­a­tives, all clad in their Nazi uni­forms.

In an hon­est and rare in­ter­viewiew about his Ger­man past for the 2006 book Roy­als And The Re­ich, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh ad­mit­ted that he found Hitler’s at­tempts to re­store Ger­many’s pres­tige af­ter World War One as “at­trac­tive”, and ad­mit­ted his Ger­man rel­a­tives had “in­hi­bi­tions about the Jews”.

“There was a great im­prove­ment in things like trains run­ning on time and build­ing,” said the Prince of Nazi Ger­many. “There was a sense of hope af­ter the de­press­ing chaos of the Weimar Republic. I can un­der­stand peo­ple latch­ing on to some­thing or some­body who ap­peared to be ap­peal­ing to their pa­tri­o­tism and try­ing tot get things go­ing. You can un­der­stand how at­trac­tive it was.”

Philip in­sisted he was never “con­scious of any­body in the fam­ily ac­tu­ally ex­press­ing anti-semitic views”, but added that there were “in­hi­bi­tions about the Jews” and ”jeal­ousy of their suc­cess”. >

“You can un­der­stand how at­trac­tive Nazism was.” Prince Philip, ex­cerpt from Roy­als And The Re­ich


In 1714, the Bri­tish royal fam­ily was faced with a prob­lem. Queen Anne, who fa­mously united the king­doms of Eng­land and Scot­land into one sovereign state, died af­ter a year-long ill­ness. That meant her direct Stu­art fam­ily line had come to a halt. Worse still, all the likely can­di­dates for next monarch among her 50-odd clos­est suitable rel­a­tives were Catholic – which was forbidden by 1701’s Act of Set­tle­ment. So in­stead, the gig was given to a for­eigner – Ge­orge Lud­wig, Prince Elec­tor of Hanover: a Ger­man through and through.

In that mo­ment, the Bri­tish royal house name changed from Stu­art to Brunswick-lüneb­urg-hanover. The new Ger­man throne-sit­ters had a good run, last­ing un­til 1837 when Queen Vic­to­ria took over the top job. The new monarch fol­lowed a strong tra­di­tion of English roy­alty mar­ry­ing Ger­man roy­alty by wed­ding (her first cousin) Prince Al­bert of Saxe-coburg and Gotha, an­other richly Ger­manic dy­nasty – tak­ing his fam­ily name, too. And from here, it’s only four gen­er­a­tions – Queen Vic­to­ria is Queen Eliz­a­beth’s great-great grand­mother – un­til we ar­rive at the cur­rent mem­bers of the royal fam­ily.

It’s not clear whether the av­er­age pre-20th-cen­tury Brit knew, or even gave a hoot, that their roy­als had so much Ger­man blood flow­ing through their veins, but come 1914 things had changed. The English and Ger­man roy­als found them­selves on op­pos­ing sides in World War One, and sud­denly hav­ing the fam­ily sur­name Sax­eCoburg and Gotha was not a good look for the Palace. In recog­ni­tion of this del­i­cate sit­u­a­tion, reign­ing monarch Ge­orge V changed the fam­ily name to Wind­sor, which re­mains to this day.

It’s worth noth­ing that of Ge­orge’s 29 first cousins on his father’s side, 19 were Ger­man, the rest halfGer­man. A look on his mother’s side re­veals that of her 31 first-cousins, six were Ger­man and 25 halfGer­man. Not a sin­gle one was Bri­tish. Ge­orge V’s wife Mary was the first royal con­sort in 400 years

to speak Bri­tish as a mother tongue.

While it’s clear that the Queen and her fam­ily have close blood ties with Ger­many, historian Do­minic Sel­wood points out in the UK’S Guardian news­pa­per that Eliz­a­beth II is also de­scended from a mil­len­nia’s worth of dif­fer­ent Bri­tish royal dy­nas­ties, too.

“To be hon­est, if we scru­ti­nise the royal fam­ily’s connections with the Fa­ther­land, we should take a long look at our own, too, and ac­knowl­edge that this coun­try [the UK] has had the most pro­found and close ge­netic and cul­tural ties with the peo­ple of Ger­many and Scandinavia for over 1,500 years.”


On the night of May 10, 1941, Ger­many’s deputy Führer Ru­dolf Hess en­tered Bri­tish airspace over Scot­land in a light air­craft pi­loted by him­self, tracked by a pair of RAF Spit­fires. At 11:06 pm, Hitler’s right-hand man re­alised he was low on fuel and took the de­ci­sion to parachute from his plane. Hess was sub­se­quently cap­tured and held as a pris­oner of war at the Tower of Lon­don.

The mo­tives for Hess’s dar­ing Scot­tish mis­sion have been end­lessly de­bated by his­to­ri­ans. Some in­sist he fled Ger­many with­out Hitler’s per­mis­sion to start peace talks. Oth­ers claim Hitler ac­tu­ally rub­ber-stamped the trip, and that Hess’s or­ders were to se­cure a mil­i­tary al­liance with Bri­tain against Rus­sia.

Authors John Har­ris and Richard Wil­bourn have a more scan­dalous the­ory. Af­ter study­ing more than 10,000 doc­u­ments for their book Ru­dolf Hess: Treach­ery And De­cep­tion, the pair be­lieve Hess’s mis­sion was part of a coup to top­ple Bri­tish PM, Win­ston Churchill – a mutiny that was or­gan­ised by Prince Ge­orge, the Duke of Kent, the younger brother of wartime monarch King Ge­orge VI.

“The aris­toc­racy had the most to lose from Churchill staying in power. All they knew was that Ger­many was bomb­ing Bri­tain nightly, soft­en­ing the coun­try up prior to an in­va­sion, which would surely cost them their wealth, their sta­tus and their lives. They werewwer also un­happy that Churchill’s strat­egy re­volved around a US al­liance,al­l­lia which many quite cor­rectly saw as the end of the Bri­tish Em­pire.em A peace treaty with Ger­many, a coun­try that had his­toric tiestiees with the Royal Fam­ily, would have seemed like the most sen­si­ble­seen op­tion to them. Com­mu­nism was the real en­emy; par­tic­u­lar­lyp­par to those with much to lose. There were many par­ties in­volvedin­nvo in the plot but our re­search points time and again too oneo man who was con­nected to them all: Prince Ge­orge.”

Thet his­to­ri­ans claim that Prince Ge­orge was in Scot­land on the dayd of Hess’s ar­rival. When the Nazi landed, he’s be­lieved to have im­me­di­ate­ly­immm asked for the Duke of Hamil­ton, a good friend of the Prince’s.pprin Ac­cord­ing to Har­ris and Wil­bourn, a 30,000-strong army ofo al­lieda Poles, who’d fled their home­land and were also based inn Scot­land,s had been primed to sup­port the coup.

‘Ge­orge V’s wife Mary was the first royal con­sort in 400 years to speak Bri­tish as a mother tongue.’

The Queen

Queen Mother

AU­DI­ENCE WITH THE FÜHRER Af­ter ab­di­cat­ing, the Duke of Wind­sor (cen­tre) met Hitler in Ger­many in 1937. The de­tails of their meet­ing are still un­known.

COVER-UP CLAIMS The Royal Ar­chives are held at Wind­sor Cas­tle. His­to­ri­ans be­lieve they’re be­ing cen­sored.

NAZI PRO­CES­SION A 16-year-old Prince Philip at a fu­neral for his sis­ter in 1937, sur­rounded by se­nior Nazi of­fi­cers.

YOUTH MOVE­MENT The young prince at­tended Schule Schloss Salem in Ger­many, where Hitler Youth poli­cies were im­ple­mented.

WIVES OF THE SS Philip’s sis­ters Ma­garita (left) and So­phie (right) both even­tu­ally mar­ried se­nior Nazi of­fi­cers.

NAME CHANG­ERS Dur­ing WW1, the royal fam­ily – pic­tured here in 1989 – changed its sur­name from Saxe-coburg and Gotha to Wind­sor.

ROYAL MUTINY It’s claimed Prince Ge­orge col­luded with Nazi deputy leader Ru­dolf Hess (right)

GER­MAN BLOOD King Ge­orge V had 19 Ger­man first cousins on his father’s side alone.

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