Buckingham Palace under pressure to reveal documents regarding relationship between royal family and the Nazis

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Buckingham Palace under pressure to reveal documents regarding relationship between royal family and the Nazis

Buckingham Palace is coming under pressure to reveal documents that would finally reveal the truth about the relationship between the royal family and the Nazi regime of the 1930s.

It follows The Sun’s decision to publish footage of the Queen at six or seven years old performing a Nazi salute, in a story that went around the world.

The royal archives, which are known to contain large volumes of correspondence between members of the royal family and Nazi politicians and aristocrats, are not compelled to release material on a regular basis. Now, the Guardian reports that as that relationship becomes the subject of global debate, historians and MPs have called for the archives to be opened up so that the correspondence can be put into context.

“The royal family can’t suppress their own history for ever,” said Karina Urbach of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. “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.”

Helen McCarthy, a historian of modern Britain at Queen Mary University of London, tweeted that “if Royal Archives were more accessible & welcoming to researchers, ‘shock’ discoveries like Sun’s front page could be put in better context”.

Historian Alex von Tunzelmann suggested on Twitter that the lack of access to the royal archives for historians and the public “is profoundly undemocratic. We need much greater access. We need to be grown up about it. The history of this country belongs to the public”.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, a member of parliament’s influential political and constitutional reform committee and a prominent supporter of the recent release of Prince Charles’s confidential memos to politicians, said the royal family needed to allow full access to its archives, including those relating to Germany in the 1930s.

The Sun was subjected to a backlash on social media, after publishing 80-year-old home movie footage from the grounds of Balmoral Castle, in which a laughing Elizabeth, her mother, Prince Edward (later Edward VIII) and Princess Margaret, were shown making Nazi salutes.

Many expressed incredulity that the paper had published the actions of a child. But the managing editor, Stig Abell, defended publication. “It is an important and interesting issue, the extent to which the British aristocracy – notably Edward VIII, in this case – in the 1930s, were sympathetic towards fascism,” he said.