The year was 1933. The Second World War was six years in the future. Adolf Hitler had been just installed as Germany’s Chancellor. Some British political observers, notably Winston Churchill among them, did not like what they saw in the meteoric rise of the leader of the zi party. Still for most Britishers, Hitler was ‘a faintly comic character’, the evil he would eventually unleash beyond their imagition. Hitler however was said to have a secret admirer in the British royal family. A footage shot during those times has emerged lately, creating a brouhaha in the British press. It shows a six-year-old Princess Elizabeth, the present British Queen, along with her sister Princess Margaret, their mother Queen Elizabeth I and their uncle Edward, all making zi salutes supposedly mocking Hitler. Buckingham Palace has now condemned the ‘exploitation’ of the footage by a tabloid newspaper, since the future Queen Elizabeth II was then ‘entirely innocent of attaching any meaning to these gestures’ and ‘no one at that time had any sense how it would evolve’. In 1936, Edward ascended to the British throne as King Edward VIII, only to abdicate 326 days later to marry an American divorcee. But he continued to be dogged by accusations of having courted Hitler, since he feared a communist revolution in Britain after the murder of Russia’s royal family. The offending tabloid has now asserted that while the then British Queen and her two daughters were obviously being egged on to make the zi salute, the involvement of the future Edward VIII, a known zi sympathiser, makes the film historically significant.
Queen's zi salute