'Let us pray': the World War III speech the Queen never made

Declassified document reveals what the Queen would have told the nation in the event of nuclear war

LAST UPDATED AT 09:13 ON Thu 1 Aug 2013

RELATIONS between the West and the Soviet Union were considered so serious in the early 1980s that British authorities prepared a speech for the Queen to deliver in the event of nuclear war.

The World War Three address urged the people of this "brave country" to pray as they faced up to the "madness of war".

The Cold War document, released by the government under the 30-year rule, was drawn up in Whitehall as part of a war-gaming exercise. It was never recorded, reports the BBC, but written as if it were to be broadcast at midday on Friday 4 March 1983.

In the address, the Queen denounces the "deadly power of abused technology" and refers to her "beloved son Andrew" who was serving in the Royal Navy. "It is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defence against the unknown," the script reads.

Written in the year that the US deployed medium-range nuclear missiles to Europe, the speech urges Britain to prepare itself to "survive against great odds". It adds: "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."

The hypothetical threat is described as "greater by far than at any time in our long history".

The speech also describes the Queen's personal memories of World War Two when she and her sister, Princess Margaret, huddled around the nursery wireless listening to her father, George VI, speak to the nation in 1939. "Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me."

The script concludes: "As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be. God bless you all."

THE TEXT IN FULL

The 1983 speech the Queen never recorded - or delivered:

"When I spoke to you less than three months ago we were all enjoying the warmth and fellowship of a family Christmas. Our thoughts were concentrated on the strong links that bind each generation to the ones that came before and those that will follow. The horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy with the growing family of the Commonwealth.

"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 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.

"My husband and I share with families up and down the land the fear we feel for sons and daughters, husbands and brothers who have left our side to serve their country. My beloved son Andrew is at this moment in action with his unit and we pray continually for his safety and for the safety of all servicemen and women at home and overseas.

"It is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defence against the unknown. If families remain united and resolute, giving shelter to those living alone and unprotected, our country's will to survive cannot be broken.

"My message to you therefore is simple. Help those who cannot help themselves, give comfort to the lonely and the homeless and let your family become the focus of hope and life to those who need it.

"As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be.

"God bless you all." · 

Disqus - noscript

Oh my gawd what an awful speech - "my dear son Andrew" yuk yuk What about the rest of "my dears". What she did not mention is the extent of the bombproof shelters beneath Buckingham Palace and the royal bolt holes in various countries for these appalling royals.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.