They say some people are born great, whilst others have greatness thrust upon them. Perhaps one of the least likely 20th century heroes is HM The Queen, a woman whose father was forced to become King because of his brother's dereliction of duty. Had her uncle not wanted to marry Wallis Simpson our Queen would not be the woman who symbolizes Britain, but instead would have lived life as a minor Royal attracting little interest from the public.
The abdication of King Edward VIII gave Princess Elizabeth's immediate family the most poisonous of all poisoned chalices. Her father had a debilitating stammer, was not trained for the role of Commander in Chief and everyone knew war with Hitler was just around the corner; it was a war the British were likely to lose.
In 1939 the war came, and as predicted the British began losing badly. Within weeks allied forces were on the run, the British lost nearly 60,000 men on the first campaign in France. Even the 'victory' of the Dunkirk evacuation was a disaster: the British were forced to save three hundred thousand men trapped on a French beach by asking fishing boats to sail them back home.
Watching this from London was the British Royal Family, a city they only lived in because the King had refused to move the family to Canada ahead of the successful German invasion. In the end the Royal Air Force managed (somehow) to win the Battle of Britain, maintaining air superiority over the UK and making the invasion impossible. Later the Americans joined the war, raising the realistic possibility of an invasion of France.
This week a video has emerged of the Queen appearing to do a Nazi salute when she was a child, forcing Buckingham Palace to angrily deny she is a fascist. In, fact the Royal household are so angry they are threatening to press charges against whoever 'stole' the film. There is also talk of copywrite lawsuits, which are possible because the Queen enjoys special rights over video footage of the Royal family.
The footage first shows the late Queen Mother doing the Nazi salute, she is then followed by the Queen. The media have suggested this is evidence the Queen and the Royal Family had some sympathy with Nazism, but is this really possible?
The King appointed the hawkish Winston Churchill as Prime Minister once the war started. For years Churchill had argued war with Hitler was inevitable and British should strike first before the German war machine was up to full strength. Hardly the man a pro-Nazi King would have choose as his most significant military commander. The King also turned off the heating in Buckingham Palace and forced the family to live on the same rations as ordinary people to help the war effort.
An 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth became the first female Royal in living memory to join the military. She served in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service holding the rank of second subaltern, which is equivalent to second lieutenant. When the war was won she was given permission to join the crowds celebrating the victory outside Buckingham Palace, which she did with the aid of a disguise.
It is also said of the Queen Mother that she only blamed three things for the early death of the King at the age of 56: his brother Edward, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, and the entirety of the German nation. She was said to have refused to speak to any of them until the day she died. Her loathing of Germans was so deeply felt she tried in vain to prevent the Queen from marrying the Duke of Edinburgh because he had German relatives.
Some might make the point that the Queen made the salute sometime around 1933, and at the time, the family might not have realized the risk to the nation from the Nazis. So she could have supported the policies of the Nazis without feeling threatened by them, but equally in 1933 even the most pessimistic person could never have dreamed of the horrors Hitler would inflict on Europe, nor how offensive that salute would later become. It just does not make sense to suggest she was a fan of the Nazis, and as a small child, she could not really have been expected to know much about it anyway.
Next year the Queen will be 90-years-old, she ascended to the throne aged just 25. In all those years she has not put a foot wrong, instead giving her life to public service. It was one she was not born to do, but nonetheless has served with distinction. For the mainstream media to suggest she had sympathies with a murderous gang that caused the early death of her father, threatened the country she loves, and whom she herself volunteered for the military to stop is ridiculous.
She ought to be proud of her war record, and that of her family. They could have cut and run to Canada but they were made of sterner stuff, unlike those who now besmirch her.