I am a great believer in the freedom of the press. In my opinion, any democracy needs the beast to look after the public interest. On the whole, the British press acts responsibly, not abusing its freedom, although the phone hacking scandal brought much of the industry into disrepute. But this week the Sun was described as 'having 'reached a new low'.
The newspaper - although I hesitate to use the word as 'comic' would seem to me to be a more accurate description of the publication - somehow obtained a published - on its front page, no less - a picture of the Queen giving a Nazi salute.
That said, the picture was a frame from a home video shot in 1933 when the then Princess Elizabeth was just 7 years old. The movie, thought to have been taken by the Queen's late father, also shows her sister, the later Princess Margaret, and their mother, the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the Princesses' uncle, then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor, giving the salute. Quite why the paper's managing editor thinks the picture is a matter of historical significance is beyond me.
The Queen is said to be livid and Buckingham Palace has been reported as considering legal action.
Frankly, I would have thought that the least said or done, the sooner this discourtesy would be forgotten. Nobody in their right mind would think that a seven-year-old girl would appreciate the significance of that gesture, especially as Hitler had been in power only a few months when the film was shot.
And which of us has not, at one time or another, given the Nazi salute in an act of mockery?