Huffpost UK uk

The Queen's 'WW3' Speech Revealed In Newly Released Secret Papers

Posted: Updated:

They might have been the final words ever addressed by Queen Elizabeth II to her nation.

With Britain on the brink of annihilation at the hands of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union, the monarch urges her "brave country" to stand firm as it faces up to the "madness of war".

the queen

While the dangers were "greater by far than at any time in our long history", she appeals to people to remember the qualities which saw them keep freedom alive through two world wars.

"As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be," she declares. "May God bless you all."

Fortunately, they were words the Queen never came to utter, and has probably never even seen.

They come from a remarkable script drawn up by officials as part of a Whitehall wargaming exercise designed to work through potential scenarios if the Cold War ever turned hot.

Details of the WINTEX-CIMEX 83 exercise - which took place in the spring of 1983 - are among the latest tranche of government documents to be released by the National Archives at Kew, west London.

Although it was only a simulation, the text of the Queen's address - supposedly broadcast at noon on Friday March 4 1983 - captures with chilling realism just how world war III may have begun.

In sombre tones, it seeks to prepare the country for the unimaginable ordeal ahead.

With a keen eye for detail, there are references to the Queen's "beloved son Andrew", serving with his unit as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot and the address by her father George VI on the outbreak of the Second World War - famously dramatised in the film, The King's Speech.

"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," it reads.

"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.

queens speech

The last speech? The words the Queen may have uttered before the end of Britain as we knew it

"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."

In the exercise, the Orange bloc forces - representing the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies - launch a devastating attack on Britain with chemical weapons. The Blue forces - representing Nato - retaliate with a "limited yield" nuclear strike forcing Orange to sue for peace.

While the scenario may have been imagined, the fears underpinning it were all too real - with no certainty over who the eventual victor might be in any conflict.

1983 was one of the most dangerous years of the entire Cold War.

US President Ronald Reagan both enraged and alarmed the Soviets with his denunciation of the Soviet Union as the "evil empire", his plans for a "Star Wars" ballistic missile shield in space, and the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles to Europe - including to RAF Greenham Common.

Tensions were further ratcheted up when the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner which strayed into their airspace killing all 269 on board. The Soviets at first brazenly denied responsibility and then claimed it was all a US "provocation".

A Nato military exercise, codenamed Able Archer, then nearly triggered an actual conflict with the Soviet leadership apparently convinced it was cover for a genuine attack.

It all provided a deeply unpromising backdrop to US-Soviet disarmament talks that were supposed to be taking place in Geneva.

The mood of Cold War dread was vividly captured by David Ratford, a senior diplomat at the British Embassy in Moscow, who vividly expressed of his foreboding at the belligerent response of the ageing Soviet leader, ex-KGB chief Yuri Andropov.

"There is an underlying sense of acute exasperation, frustration and possibly even alarm: one pictures almost the animal at bay," he cabled the Foreign Office on September 29.

"Rightly or wrongly the Russians feel they have been goaded almost beyond endurance by the American administration.

"We must be very near a situation where propaganda has devoured policy. Andropov's statement is, frankly, profoundly disturbing.

"What is now needed is the application of cool heads in Washington and Moscow to a calm political dialogue worthy of two super-powers who lay claim to world leadership."

The same day, then prime minister Margaret Thatcher was holding talks with Mr Reagan in the White House were the President railed against the "paranoiac" tendencies of the Soviet leadership.

According to the No 10 note of the meeting, he told her that it was "always necessary to remember that we were dealing with people who were not like us".

But for all her uncompromising reputation as the Iron Lady, the record shows that Mrs Thatcher was anxious to ensure Mr Reagan did not close off the possibility of future dialogue.

"We all had to live on the same planet," she told him. "We must then stay calm and make it plain that we still wanted to negotiate."