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

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

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.

Advertisement

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.

Rebecca Onion, who runs Slate’s history blog The Vault, is a writer and academic living in Ohio. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.