Friday, 24 July 2015

The Royals and Nazi salutes

It isn’t often I commend the Sun newspaper, but its revelation that the British royal family may have been sympathetic to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s is one such case.

The royal family, and the British establishment that keeps them in place, hold so much power there would have been immense pressure on journalists and editors at the Sun to bury the story.  It is to the newspaper's credit that public interest triumphed over the interests of the ruling elite.  Of course, there was also the small matter of commercial interests and the extra sales the Sun could expect from breaking the story.

For anyone who may have missed what the fuss was about, the Sun carried stills from a film, shot around 1933, showing the present Queen, as a 7-year-old, giving a Nazi salute.  Also giving the straight-arm salute in the photos were the Queen’s mother (later to be Queen as the wife of King George VI) and Uncle David (later to be King Edward VIII).

Immediately, pro-monarchy apologists took over the broadcast media to condemn the Sun, and attempt to divert attention from the pro-Nazi issue by claiming we should really be concerned about how the newspaper came to have a copy of a film that must have been the ‘private property’ of the royal family. 

The string of right-wing historians and ‘royal commentators’ interviewed on 24-hour news channels also told us it was ridiculous to claim a 7-year-old Princess Elizabeth would have known the significance of the gesture she made when giving the Nazi salute.  At least on that issue they were correct.

Clearly the young girl in the 80-year-old film would have no idea who Adolf Hitler was or that the straight-arm salute was associated with the far-right Nazi regime in Germany.  The problem for the royal-supporters, though, was that no-one had actually suggested the young future Queen did know what she was doing or that, at 7-years-old, she was endorsing the agenda of the Nazis.

The significance of the film was that the adults – the current Queen’s mother and uncle – did know who Adolf Hitler was, did know the policies advocated by the Nazi Party in Germany (Hitler had set-out his perverted agenda many years before in his book Mien Kampf), and did, repeatedly, give the Nazi salute.  The film showed young Princess Elizabeth look at her mum giving the Nazi salute before copying her.

Uncle David (who became King Edward VIII) is known to have been an avid supporter of the Nazi regime, as was the aristocracy in Germany, many of whom were cousins of the British royals.  It is claimed that when Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, his determination to marry the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson was just a convenient excuse to get rid of him.  In largely-ignored books (ignored by mainstream media and academia), some historians claim the real reason Edward had to go was his close relationship with the Nazis and the belief he had been in negotiations with them regarding his wish to be the ‘British Fuhrer’ in an all-conquering German Third Reich.  

The reality is that Britain’s royals would ‘support’ any regime that allowed them to retain their exalted social position and life of opulence.  How a far-right Nazi government (or British New Party government under the likes of Oswald Mosely) might have impacted on the ‘subjects of her majesty’ would not have troubled the royals: their only interest, then and now, is retaining their position, power and wealth.

You can be sure that, had the Nazis won the Second World War, the footage revealed by the Sun would have been made available to Herr Hitler to show how the British royal family had actually always supported him and his party.

If it isn’t already clear, let me state for the record that I am a republican.  I despise the elitist idea of monarchy. I believe there can be no place in a democratic society for an unelected, hereditary head of state who owes their position of privilege to nothing more than the fact their ancestors were the biggest murdering rogues of their time.

I cannot begin to imagine why one human being would obsequiously bow or curtsy to another, nor why someone would expect others to kowtow to them in such a manner.

In a country where people’s lives are being devastated by unemployment, poverty and deprivation, I believe it is an obscenity that one family, whose members are already multi-millionaires, continues to live extremely cosseted lives funded from the public purse.

To be honest, I feel no personal ill-will to Mrs Windsor and her family: I don’t know them, so it would be irrational to have any personal animosity towards them, which reminds me of a statement made by Carolyn Leckie, then of the Scottish Socialist Party, while she was being sworn-in as a Member of the Scottish Parliament: Carolyn said, “Why would I swear allegiance to the Queen? I mean, I don’t even know the wummin.”

The Parliament’s swearing-in of MSPs is a classic example of how all-pervading is the influence of the British establishment, and how the monarchy is not the benign entity we’re told it is. Despite being elected to parliament by the people of Scotland, MSPs are required to swear an oath of allegiance to ‘Her Majesty the Queen, her heirs and successors’. Any MSP who holds republican views and declines to swear the oath of allegiance to an unelected monarch is barred from taking their seat in parliament.

In 2003, like other republican MSPs, I prefaced my oath-taking by stating my allegiance is to the people of Scotland, and therefore I took the oath under protest. I basically let them know I didn’t mean a word of the oath I subsequently took.

Think about that: in a supposed democracy, where candidates have been elected by the people, those candidates would be barred from office if they did not swear allegiance to a London-based monarch who considers the people of Scotland to be her subjects. There is no debating the point: no oath of allegiance to the Queen (and her hangers-on), no seat in the Scottish Parliament.

The monarchy and forcing people to swear allegiance to something in which they do not believe, are anachronisms: there is no place for such things in a modern, democratic country.

Having said that, we should be under no illusions about who actually runs Scotland. It isn’t the Westminster Government and it certainly isn’t the Scottish version. Scotland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are run and controlled by the British establishment, a small elite group of faceless bureaucrats, civil servants, senior military personnel and members of the royal household.

The Queen is the pinnacle of the British establishment, and what the Sun’s story about Nazi salutes actually revealed was that the establishment would embrace any government or regime that retained and protected the monarchy, irrespective of the potentially disastrous impact on us ‘ordinary’ people.

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