This week The Sun paper printed a front-paged story entitled ‘Their Royal Heilness’ releasing images from 1933 showing the seven-year old future Queen Elizabeth II performing a Nazi salute. The Sun argues that these pictures deserved to be publicised to give “insight into the warped prejudices of Edward VIII”.
However, many others have ridiculed The Sun for publishing eighth two year-old pictures, and for even linking the Queen and Queen Mother with anything Nazi-related. The article has certainly rocked the boat.
The Sun, in its defence does claim in the article that there is “no suggestion that the Queen or Queen Mother were ever Nazi sympathisers”.
They have quoted multiple historians who speak favourably of the Royal family. Historians quoted in the article have been quick to defend the Queen and Queen mother. The pundits claimed they were “all having a laugh”, whilst condemning King Edward VIII – who was a known Nazi sympathiser. The article fairly squares the Nazi salute blame on the influence of the Queen’s uncle and not Her Majesty or her parents George VI and the Queen Mother.
I would argue that it was justified for the images to be published. If the Royal Family had anything to hide like Nazi sympathies, then the public deserves to know it. Obviously the Queen had no Nazi sympathies, she was a seven-year old child copying a hand movement of a family member. However, the problem with the article is the edge of slander which the Sun exhibits.
There is a question to be raised why there was a need to release such potent footage with an antagonistic headline like ‘Their Royal Heilness’. The headline gives a heavy impression that the Queen was making Nazi gestures with intent. The way the images are presented negatively portray the Queen from the first line of the article. There is a need to treat these images objectively because of the heaviness of the subject matter. This should go without saying because the paper published this as a front-paged news story, not as an opinion piece. It can be argued that The Sun was out to trash the Royal Family through this article.
Why The Sun might want to dirty the name of the Queen may lie in the outcome of the phone hacking scandal that targeted the tabloid and its affiliated papers.
The scandal, which unfolded 2011, forced The News of The World paper to close its doors. The ongoing investigation has led to the arrest of numerous editors, reporters and executives of News Corp (now called 21st Century Fox).
Crucially, it forced many people into a humiliating questioning process before a Parliamentary committee. Interviewees included Rupert and James Murdoch, respectively the Executive Co-Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox.
A humble apology from Rupert Murdoch was published.
The entire 21st Century Fox – which includes The Sun – suffered financially and had its name dirtied. Has Rupert Murdoch and the 21st Century Fox Corporation used this story as a subtle backlash against the British establishment which brought them to such a low standing? The establishment rightfully uncovered the wrongs of News Corp, and News Corp may well be trying to enact revenge.
Whatever the intentions of The Sun, it has motioned Buckingham Palace to begin an investigation. They are concerned that they have been exploited and are worried how the footage was leaked .
The Sun may well be in for more than they had bargained for. Perhaps their sources may lead to another violation of privacy laws. Perhaps this story may lead to another scandal in itself.