On Thursday, the British National Archives released the script for a hypothetical 1983 speech that would have been delivered by Queen Elizabeth II in the event of a global nuclear war. The speech, written as if broadcast at midday on Friday, March 4, 1983, was drawn up as part of a war-gaming exercise conducted at a time of high tensions following Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" speech and NATO's "Able Archer" excercise.
In the speech, the queen refers to her childhood during World War II and to the famous 1939 speech by her father, King George VI, announcing the outbreak of war with Germany:
Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds.
I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father's inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.
We all know that the dangers facing us today are greater by far than at any time in our long history. The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology.
But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.
Elizabeth would also have referred to her "beloved son Andrew," who was at that time serving in the Navy.
Neither this speech, nor any like it, was ever given. But it joins the ranks of famous doomsday speeches and dramatic statements on war and peace that were prepared but -- thankfully for all of us -- never delivered.
JFK: The U.S.-Soviet War Begins
Last year, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library released the speech that had been prepared in the event that the United States launched airstrikes against Cuba during the high-stakes missile crisis of October 1962.
"My fellow Americans, with a heavy heart, and in necessary fulfillment of my oath of office, I have ordered -- and the United States Air Force has now carried out -- military operations with conventional weapons only, to remove a major nuclear weapons build-up from the soil of Cuba," Kennedy begins.
The United States of America need not and cannot tolerate defiance, decaption and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. Nuclear weapons are so destructive, and ballistic missiles are so swift, that a sudden shift in the nature of their threat can be deeply dangerous -- especially when the trigger appears to be in the hands of a violent and unstable revolutionary leader. [...]
If the 1930's taught us any lesson at all, it was that aggressive conduct, if allowed to grow unchecked and unchallenged, will ultimately lead to war. This nation is opposed to war -- but it is true to its word.
According to some accounts, Kennedy's normal speechwriter Ted Sorensen, who was staunchly opposed to airstrikes, refused to write the speech, so it was drafted by National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy.
While Kennedy appeals for U.S. citizens to remain calm and calls for talks with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to discuss the situation, it's quite possible that this speech, if delivered, would have marked the beginning of a nuclear war.
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