Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, Hon. Margaret Rhodes, thinks the Nazi salute photo a British tabloid published over the weekend was “unnecessarily cruel” to the Royal Family, she told People magazine in an exclusive report. The film snippet, which was taken more than 80 years ago, showed the future queen, along with her mother and sister Princess Margaret, making the “heil Hitler” hand gesture.

“The whole thing is a mountain being made out of a molehill," Rhodes, 90, said about the image that the Sun published. "It was long before any significance was made to a Nazi salute." 

The photo was taken at the royal family's Scottish vacation home in 1933, when Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime had just risen to power. "To put any sort of slur on the family when they've worked so hard is unnecessarily cruel. If you think back to what the King [George VI] and Queen [Elizabeth, the Queen Mother] did during the war, and the present Queen [Elizabeth], it is farcical to think that they would be pro-German,” she said.

Queen Elizabeth, then 6, was mimicking her uncle, the future king Edward VIII, who abdicated. "Everybody knows that the Duke of Windsor was inclined that way, and it shows how grateful we should be that he didn't stay being King," Rhodes said. The publication captioned the image: “Their Royal Heilnesses." 

Buckingham Palace issued an official statement in defense of the queen, 89: “It is disappointing that film shot eight decades ago and apparently from [Her Majesty's] personal family archive has been obtained and in this manner.”

The Sun didn't say how they obtained the image, but said they released the photo because it showed "a fascinating insight in the warped prejudices of Edward VIII.” They added: "We publish them today knowing they do not reflect badly on our Queen, her late sister or mother in any way."

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