In Brief

How the Queen would announce nuclear war

‘Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me,’ reads Cold War draft speech

A Cold War-era speech to have been given by the Queen in the event of a nuclear attack on the UK is going on public display this week for the first time. 

Written in 1983, the address - nicknamed “Ma’amageddon” by civil servants - was part of a number of plans “mocked up in Whitehall while the world still lived in fear of  an apocalyptic conflict between the US and Russia”, says The Sun.

In another scenario, hard-left politician and then-Labour leader Michael Foot would have been taken into police custody at a peace rally alongside Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, according to the Daily Mail

The Queen’s chilling address opens with a reference to the Second World War that 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.”

The draft address ends on a positive note, however, urging Brits to take care of one another in the dark days ahead.

“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,” Her Majesty would have said, before signing off with: “God bless you all. ”

The document is going on view at a new exhibition, called Britain’s Cold War Revealed, at the National Archives in London. The show opens on Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the formation of Nato, and runs until the end of November 2019, marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Other original documents from the period going on display include political memos, spy confessions, civil defence posters and Churchill’s “naughty document” - a handwritten report outlining the then-prime minister’s plans to carve up Europe with Russian leader Josef Stalin. 

The secret pact was written as the Allies closed in on Nazi Germany in 1944, and lists countries and the percentages of them that the Russia and the Western allies would claim.

“The pervasive threat of nuclear war impacted everyday life for millions of people and this thought-provoking exhibition will offer a unique look into political and ideological tensions between the East and West,” says exhibition curator Mark Dunton.

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