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British Film Institute investigating after leak of Queen Nazi salute film

Published 20/07/2015

Handout photo taken from the Twitter feed of @TheSun of The Sun front page showing a still of footage from 1933 that shows a young Queen performing a Nazi salute with her family at Balmoral
Handout photo taken from the Twitter feed of @TheSun of The Sun front page showing a still of footage from 1933 that shows a young Queen performing a Nazi salute with her family at Balmoral

The British Film Institute (BFI) has confirmed it has been digitising some of the Royal Family's home movies as investigations continue into the leaking of the Queen's Nazi salute footage.

Buckingham Palace, the Royal Collection Trust and the BFI are trying to establish how the 17-second black and white film, showing the Queen as a child performing a Nazi salute with her family, came into the hands of The Sun newspaper.

In October 2012, her Diamond Jubilee year, the Queen visited BFI Southbank in London on the day the organisation announced it would be working with the BBC to digitise a collection of royal footage, which the BFI National Archive has looked after since the late 1960s.

It includes a mixture of films presented to the royal household including newsreels and private family movies which are unique to the collection and date back to the 1920s.

Some of the footage was already available to the public at the time but more was expected to be made available through digitisation.

When the project was announced BFI chairman Greg Dyke, who hosted the Queen's visit, said: "We've got the whole collection - we look after it for the Royal Family - some of which has never been seen, they are very personal films.

"A lot of it was shot by the Duke of Edinburgh with a movie camera in the early 50s and in the next year or so we will be digitising it."

Despite no updates about the project since 2012, a BFI spokeswoman confirmed "that work is being done".

It is not known where the footage showing the Nazi salute originated, but the BFI spokeswoman said the organisation was continuing to "investigate".

It shows the Queen, aged six or seven, joining her mother and the future Edward VIII - known as Uncle David in the Royal Family - in raising an arm in salute as she plays alongside her younger sister, Princess Margaret.

It is understood that depending on the outcome of the investigation, Buckingham Palace will be looking at issues of copyright and possible criminality.

A Palace spokesman said over the weekend: "It is disappointing that film, shot eight decades ago and apparently from Her Majesty's personal family archive, has been obtained and exploited in this manner.''

A colleague added that inquiries were continuing into how the material came into the public domain.

The Royal Collection Trust would not comment on a Daily Telegraph report that a short sequence of footage, which follows the Nazi salute, was included last year in the Buckingham Place summer exhibition called Royal Childhood.

The newspaper also said the footage may have been inadvertently released to a documentary maker after a flurry of requests for unseen royal home movies.

A Royal Collection Trust spokeswoman later said that the extract from the leaked movie had not been part of their summer exhibition.

She said: " The film footage of the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret with their mother and uncle was not in the exhibition Royal Childhood at Buckingham Palace last summer, nor was it among material released to media for use in their coverage of the exhibition at this time.

"The short sequence of the princesses directly in front of the camera was part of a montage of footage of members of the Royal Family as children shown in the exhibition."

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