Britain’s future queen was not the only one performing nazi salutes in the 1930s — a photograph from the Irish Examiner archive, dating back to a time when fascism was rife across Europe, shows a group of young Irish girls adopting the same pose that has Buckingham Palace in uproar.
Captioned ‘Young Blue-shirts saluting at Charleville, Co Cork in April 1934’, the image features girls as young as six or seven, of an age with the Queen when, in 1933, she extended her innocent arm in what, in hindsight, was a highly offensive manner.
The Blueshirts, forerunners to Fine Gael, were led by General Eoin O’Duffy, a proponent of fascist ideology and admirer of then Italian leader Benito Mussolini.
O’Duffy’s organisation, initially known as the Army Comrades Association, adopted some of the symbols of European fascism, including the straight-arm salute and blue uniform, leading to the nickname “The Blueshirts”.
The Irish Examiner archive contains other images from the era where crowds have arms raised in right-armed salute at various Blueshirt rallies, at a time when the World had yet to recognise the evils of Nazism or see the gesture as a signal of absolute obedience to the world’s most infamous dictator.
Meanwhile, back in modern-day UK, the Queen’s aides are furiously trying to uncover the source of the leak that has caused deep embarrassment to the 89-year-old monarch, with one royal source insisting, not unreasonably, that aged seven, the future Queen could not have understood the significance of the gesture.
Royal aides are examining whether the 17-second video clip — featuring the Queen playing with her sister Margaret on the lawn at Balmoral, before raising her arm in a Nazi salute, along with the late Queen Mother — was leaked during preparations for a public show held at Buckingham Palace last summer.
The British Film Institute and Royal Collection Trust held an exhibition on royal childhood featuring clips of the Queen at play. It helped raise £8.7m to be spent on the upkeep of palaces and the royal art collection.