The Sun published the image on Saturday (18Jul15), showing the future Queen - who was aged six or seven at the time - being taught the gesture in 1933 by her uncle, Edward VIII.

Her sister Princess Margaret, then only three years old, and her mother are also shown to be doing the salute in the black and white footage.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said the royal family is "disappointed" the private film has been published, and Gervais has since come to the monarch's defence on

He wrote, "If the Queen does another Nazi Salute let me know about it. Until then... she was 7 and it didn't even have it's eventual context. Not news."

The outspoken atheist later added, "Now I'm terrified someone is going to dig up a photo of me praying when I was 7. Never mind The Queen, I actually looked like a tiny Hitler when I was 7."

The newspaper has defended its decision to post the footage, saying, "These images have lain hidden for 82 years. We publish them today, knowing they do not reflect badly on our Queen, her late sister or mother in any way. They do, however, provide a fascinating insight into the warped prejudices of Edward VIII and his friends in that bleak, paranoid, tumultuous decade."