Ricky Gervais has defended Queen Elizabeth II after a British tabloid published photographs of the monarch doing a Nazi style salute in 1933, when she was seven years old. Gervais took to Twitter to criticise The Sun for not providing a context for the image, taken from a 17-second home video footage, and further emphasised the Queen’s young age when she was captured doing this now unacceptable gesture.

Ricky GervaisRicky Gervais at the Netflix Screening of Derek at the Paley Center in New York.

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On Saturday (18th July), The Sun made the image their front page and it was a move which has been widely criticised. The image shows Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, her younger sister Margaret, their mother and their uncle, Prince Edward, on the lawn at Balmoral doing a Nazi salute. 

Prince Edward, who became King Edward III before abdicating to marry Wallace Simpson, was a notorious Nazi sympathiser. He met Hitler in 1936, three years after this footage was taken. 

Some have praised the Sun for directly addressing the Royal family’s connection with Hitler during the 1930s, others believe the image has been taken out of context and, 80 years on, should not have been made front page news. Gervais is one of many to weigh in on the debate and he defended in the Queen in a series of tweets. 

‘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,’ Gervais wrote.

‘Now I'm terrified someone is going to dig up a photo of me praying when I was 7,’ the Office star added.

A source close to the palace has also defended the Queen’s actions, as the Guardian reports, claiming the footage shows a family playing and briefly mimicking a gesture which was frequently seen on news reels at the time. Hitler, at the time, was considered a comic character in Britain, as the Telegraph reports. 

“No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest,” the source added. “The Queen is around six years of age at the time and entirely innocent of attaching any meaning to these gestures.”

In an official statement, Buckingham Palace, condemned the publication of the image but their priority is not with damage control but with security.  

"It is disappointing that a film, shot eight decades ago and apparently from HM's personal family archive, has been obtained and exploited in this manner,” a spokesperson from Buckingham Palace said. 

The Sun attempted to defend their actions by claiming the image was of “national historical significance” and that it was not their intention to suggest anything “improper” of the Queen or the Queen Mother. 

What do you think? Should The Sun have published the image?

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