British Jews defend Queen Elizabeth over Nazi salute

Jewish organization urges public not to judge 7-year-old’s actions; says ‘full horror’ of Nazi regime was not known at that point

A still from a video published by Britain's The Sun newspaper which allegedly shows Queen Elizabeth II, as a child (second from left), performing the Nazi salute with her parents. (screen capture: YouTube)
A still from a video published by Britain's The Sun newspaper which allegedly shows Queen Elizabeth II, as a child (second from left), performing the Nazi salute with her parents. (screen capture: YouTube)

A major British organization condemned criticism of Queen Elizabeth II in the wake of the release of a video showing her giving a Nazi salute at the age of 7.

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, on Sunday praised the royal family for its close relationship with the Jewish community.

“I don’t think any criticism of a 7-year-old child would be remotely appropriate and I don’t intend to make any,” Arkush said at a meeting of the board, the Jewish Chronicle reported over the weekend, following the publication of the video on the website of The Sun and on the tabloid’s front page.

“It’s really important for us not to judge this event with hindsight. Obviously the Nazi salute now carries horrible memories and bitterness for us, but I do not think for one moment that it would be appropriate for me to suggest that the full horror of Nazi Germany was known at that point.”

Buckingham Palace reportedly has ordered an investigation into the publication of the images, including how The Sun 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.

Last month, the queen met with survivors and liberators in a visit to Bergen-Belsen, her first to a Nazi concentration camp.

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