A Script for the Queen's Speech, in Case of Nuclear War

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Aug. 1 2013 2:30 PM

A Script for the Queen's Speech, in Case of Nuclear War

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As part of a March 1983 NATO exercise, British officials drew up this speech for the queen to give to the nation in case of nuclear war.

The wargame, Wintex-Cimex 1983, was a NATO-wide simulation run by the United States. In the course of the game, the Soviet Union and its allies attacked the U.K. with chemical weapons, forcing NATO to respond with nuclear force. The countries participating in the game ran through the procedures necessary to arrive at full mobilization and practiced the protocol for transitioning to a “Defcon 1” state of alert.

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The queen’s speech stressed tradition, national pride, and personal commitment. In it, the queen would refer to the address her father King George VI gave at the beginning of World War II in 1939. She would mention her own son, Andrew, who was then serving in the Royal Navy, thereby making common cause with the families whose children were also in the service. And she would call upon the people to fight off a “new evil,” reminding them that they had done so twice already during “this sad century.”

The document was recently released by the National Archives of the U.K., along with other 30-year-old government files. Other interesting bits from the batch of documents from 1983 that are being processed right now: notes from a meeting between Margaret Thatcher and Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn; the prime minister’s files related to the invasion of Granada,; and contingency plans for dealing with a “serious Thames flood,” which suggested (and rejected) the possibility of diverting floodwaters from central London by sacrificing Essex and Kent.

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