Who wasn't tickled by this front page? Well, The Palace, obviously. They said it's "disappointing that film, shot eight decades ago... has been obtained and exploited". Disappointing? How so? It's not like anyone seriously believes the Queen has an attic full of Nazi regalia and goes to bed with a signed copy of Mein Kampf. And no one is suggesting that she is somehow culpable for what the Queen Mother and the execrable Edward VIII encouraged her to do. Those for whom sycophancy is the only appropriate mode for treating with and speaking about the royals should neck a bottle of chill pills. Relax, Elizabeth Windsor today remains the same patrician Tory who places herself above big P politics as she was upon her assumption of the throne.
What is, of course, inexcusable is the behaviour of the dear old Queen mum and the empty-headed simp Edward. The Sun tries its best to soft soap the pair, adding that the film should be seen "in context". That "no one" knew Hitler was a bit of a wrong 'un, and that these are just larks because "families of all kinds larked around apeing the stiff-armed antics of the faintly comic character". This is just so much poppycock. The 1930s had mass media. The press had international correspondents. You did not need to follow Trotsky on the rise of Hitler to know the Nazis were violent thugs who routinely attacked opposing parties (eternal kudos to those KPD and SPD comrades who replied in kind). It was also fairly common knowledge that the Nazis singled out and attacked Jews, were committed to tearing up the Versailles Treaty, and was bent on rearming Germany with a view to expanding its borders. For toffs like Elizabeth and Edward, liberal democracy, the rule of law, rights of minorities, and political freedom were so much collateral. Germany had a large and powerful labour movement that could, on paper, have swatted away the Nazis with a flick of its wrist were it not paralysed by internal fratricidal division and hobbled - at least in the SPD's case - constitutionalism. It was perceived as a latent threat to the prevailing social order and required putting in its place, hence why so many aristos and bourgeois-types in Germany and abroad broadly welcomed the Nazis' assumption of power.
As The Sun itself notes, the Queen Mother did her bit once the Luftwaffe started bombing London and arguably atoned for her earlier attitudes. Edward was later to scab on the war effort advising the Nazis to bomb Britain into a quick peace, and until his dying day remaining an unrepentant fascist and anti-semite. Small wonder the royal archives concerning him remain under lock and key.
In all, there's nothing especially new here - though The Sun were right to publish this because it is of historical interest. And comes as a welcome tonic to the usual grovelling and kowtowing we get from the press. In fact, it's Rupert Murdoch's sole redeeming quality that he finds the monarchy as an institution pretty appalling, though it's been a signal feature of his entire business career to put his own political leanings second to News International/News Corp's commercial interests. Apart from that, however, why have The Sun decided to splash on this story now? What's grinding away in the background, is there a surreptitious master plan at work here?
Nah. It's a scoop and it will sell newspapers, ensuring the currant bun features on news bulletins around the world. It needs it as the paper's web presence is but a fraction of its rivals. The Sun's army of readers conspicuously give it the body swerve treatment when they venture onto the internet. But the story will not be without its consequences for how the royals are perceived. Only the most deluded thinks Charles won't follow mummy to the throne - unless she outlives him. Nevertheless, we are reminded that the royals have their views about political issues. Whereas the Queen has always been discreet enough to keep hers away from the prying eyes of the public, Charles is not so fussed. By acknowledging the views of royals past, we may be preparing ground for a monarch who's openly opinionated.