Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mad Rant: Calling the British Royals Nazis

No, this was not a planned article as part of the “Year of World War II” at The Mad Monarchist but a reaction to a story that recently appeared in the news that has all of the monarchy-bashers salivating like Pavlov’s dog. There recently came to light a “home video” of the British Royal Family showing King Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Princess Elizabeth (the Queen) and Princess Margaret playing around and -brace yourselves- giving the “Nazi salute”. I first saw it in The Sun (that bastion of journalistic integrity -he said sarcastically) and the media has run with it. Taken in 1933 when the current monarch was a mere child, it has drawn out that crowd which has long tried to convince people that the British Royal Family were all a bunch of Nazi sympathizers deep down. Since it has surfaced there have also been new calls for the Royal Family to open the archives relating to the period in question to show every last detail of what the royals had to do with Nazi Germany or anyone affiliated with the regime. For the monarchy-bashers this was like an early Christmas present since the Nazis are the one group that practically everyone on earth agrees were evil and the one group these days that it is not only okay to openly hate but absolutely mandatory to do so.

Now, in the name of fairness, I have to say that the first rebuttal I heard relating to this video was not very convincing. The first push-back I heard was that the royals were not doing the “Nazi salute” at all but rather just practicing their ‘royal wave’. Frankly, having seen the video, I don’t think anyone is going to buy that. The gesture in question is what was once known as the Roman salute, adopted by Mussolini and his Fascist party as part of revival of all things Roman and later taken up by nationalist groups across Europe such as the Nazis in Germany, the nationalists in Spain and so on. Now, also in the name of fairness (not that anyone cares) I will also say that the same or similar salute was once not at all uncommon. Prior to it becoming associated with the Nazis, a practically identical salute was used in the United States as the official civilian form of salute (it was replaced by the current style of placing your open hand over your heart). I have also seen it used when taking on oath or making a pledge in places as far removed from Europe as Taiwan and South Vietnam. However, because Mussolini, Franco, Hitler etc all used it the salute came to be seen as a symbol of those lumped together under the generic epithet of “fascist”. I have never seen royals “wave” by holding their arms straight out at an angle so it seems pretty clear that it was the Roman salute that was being done and not some sort of rehearsal for the “Miss America” wave royals usually use.

Another complication was the presence of the Queen’s uncle King Edward VIII (at the time the Prince of Wales and later the Duke of Windsor after his abdication). He seems to be the one showing the little group how to do the salute properly. His presence, of course, makes the issue all the stickier because we all know how King Edward VIII, fairly or not, has been labeled for some time as the primary Nazi sympathizer in the British Royal Family. Personally, I think that is going too far. However, there is no doubt that his views would put him on the ‘naughty list’ for acceptable society today. He opposed the League of Nations, had no problem with Mussolini invading Ethiopia and thought it would be a terrible idea for the British Empire to fight another world war with Germany. It is probably also fair to say that he viewed the Nazi regime as an improvement over the Weimar Republic as far as Germany was concerned. But this also points back to a greater problem that is inevitable when one picks out an 82-year old video and looks at in with the popular perception of today rather than in the context of 1933.

Adolf Hitler had quite a few admirers around the world in 1933 and was to gain even more after coming to power in Germany the following year. The same could be said for Benito Mussolini, in fact, the Duce probably had even more admirers as he had been around for a much longer time. Winston Churchill famously said that if he had been an Italian in those days, he would have worn the black shirt himself. The head of President Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration in the United States kept a portrait of Mussolini in his office (that man, Hugh S. Johnson, was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1933, showing how mainstream such sentiments were). So, when people try to make a major issue of this, it is important to keep in mind that no one in the British Royal Family has the ability to foresee future events and this video was recorded a year before Hitler came to power in Germany, long before any countries were invaded, long before any wars were started and long before anyone was sent to an extermination camp. None of it had happened yet and no one in 1933 would have expected it to.

The really infuriating thing though is that none of this should be taken seriously in the first place. Anyone who has seen the video can clearly see that the group is just playing around, acting silly. Trying to make an issue out of this old home movie is not just ridiculous, it is slanderous. Look beyond the horsing around to what really matters. What really matters are the facts and the fact is that the Queen Mother was denouncing the Nazis before denouncing the Nazis was cool. Hitler called her “the most dangerous woman in Europe”. No love lost there. The Queen and Prince Philip both served in World War II, Prince Philip at the front in the Royal Navy and the Queen at home with what we would call the supply and logistics side of military operations. To try to cast them as being among the ranks of the enemy is treasonous slander of the first order. As for opening the archives; what would that accomplish? I doubt there is anything there that most royal historians do not already know. There were German relatives who held positions in Nazi Germany, we already know that. There were times when the British royals met and talked with such relatives, we know that. Many in Britain had great reservations about going into another world war with Germany and we know that too. It was the conflict that cost Britain her empire and it is no wonder that not everyone would view it as joyous event, regardless of how much they might despise any of the Axis countries.

All this video shows is a couple of adults and two little girls playing around in their backyard, mimicking the gestures of certain leaders on the continent, most of whom were viewed by people in Britain and America as ridiculous and worthy of a joke or two. That’s all it is, it doesn’t “mean” anything, it has no significance whatsoever. All that matters is that, when the chips were down, the British stood by their promise to Poland and when war came with Germany and Italy, and later when Japan sought to take down the British Empire in Asia, the Royal Family stood with the rest of the English-speaking world in doing their duty and serving in any capacity possible to work toward the final victory. They served in the armed forces, they served in combat, they endured the bombing and the privations caused by the submarine blockade and put their lives on the line along with all others who did the same for King and country. To take what is, only in hindsight, an embarrassing home video and try to use it to smear the Royal Family or as another means of bashing the monarchy is unjust, undignified and, in my opinion at least, downright treasonous. And it makes me a very, very … Mad Monarchist.

13 comments:

  1. Greetings, M.M.,

    Over at "The Fellowship of The King Magazine" (www.thefellowshipoftheking.wordpress.com), of which I am now the editor, we are preparing to launch our summer fantasy/sci-fi themed PDF issue. I wanted to inquire if you might be interested in joining us as a guest, since I believe you might have an interesting monarchist perspective on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

    Please do let me know a.s.a.p., as we are preparing to launch in early August. You can email me here: campionsbrag@aol.com

    Blessings,
    Pearl of Tyburn/Rosaria Marie/Avellina Balestri

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    1. Won't take much time, that's going to have to be a *negative* on that one. And I hope not too many see this because the past two times I've mentioned it I have been subject to a wave of nerd-rage because of it but, here it is: I have never read Tolkien. At all. So, no perspectives there. I've heard nothing but good things of course but, stuff with elves and trolls and so on just isn't my cup of tea. I've read one or two fantasy type books in my entire life (one was probably more sci-fi than fantasy) and that's it so, best of luck to you but I really wouldn't have anything to say on the subject.

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    2. Though the MM and I aren't exactly on speaking terms, I'd be happy to obliged one of his commenters (having read The Lord of the Rings myself), if the MM will approve the comment.

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  2. I recall once watching a documentary on the Olympics in Nazi Germany. They interviewed some American athletes who said they were enjoying themselves while there, and one of the things they would do was give any policeman they encountered a "sieg heil" because it was a playful thing to do at the time.

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  3. This article, reminds me that just when I think ignorance has reached its limits I am again proven wrong. Saying that the British royalty was pro Nazi, is like saying Julius Caesar was pro barbarian ! I Cant wait for your next WWII post. Also I was wondering if you've done an article on St. Joan of Arc, in my opinion, she's practically the patron saint of monarchists.

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    1. Not a proper one, which is something I need to rectify. She's one of my favorite historical figures of all time.

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  4. The whole thing is an inane publicity stunt by a sensationalist rag and the only people who could possibly take it seriously are those who want to tear down the Monarchy at all costs. Sleazy in the extreme.

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  5. I personally still welcome the Nazis as a great improvement from the unstable Weimar Republic.

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    1. I hope you only admire the country-stabilising and economic policies, not the brutal murdering of millions of innocent people from minority groups?

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    2. But let us not suck up to any regime. Fascist nationalism was only natural for a country just humiliated. (WWI)

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    3. Ya, I mean if you ignore the war-mongering, death camps, and oppressive totalitarian regime, which routinely went on witch hunts for monarchists and any other group they didn't like, for example Catholics, Jews, and Freemasons. Sure, besides that, Nazi Germany would have made a lovely vacation spot! I understand the Weimar Republic was terrible, but National Socialism isn't and wasn't the answer, the only hope post WWI Germany had was to keep the Kaiser, they gave that up.

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    4. The Nazis wanted to give some better idea to revive Germany after the horrors of the Weimar Republic. I mean, after something terrible, everyone wants something new, right?

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  6. From the UK, I can say that people are more disgusted at the 'news'paper that has published the images than the royal family. It's nice to see the majority still support the monarchy.

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