Buckingham Palace has expressed its disappointment with a tabloid newspaper for publishing images of a young Queen Elizabeth II performing a Nazi salute together with her family in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler came to power.

The palace took the unusual step of commenting on Saturday's report in The Sun newspaper, which shows the queen — then about 7 years old — at the family home in Balmoral, surrounded by her uncle, mother, and sister. The grainy footage also shows Elizabeth's mother making the salute.

Military historian James Holland told The Sun that the royals were joking.

"I don't think there was a child in Britain in the 1930s or 40s who has not performed a mock Nazi salute as a bit of a lark," he was quoted as saying.