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Queen Elizabeth's nuclear war speech, and other undelivered speeches
August 1, 2013 10:42 PM   Subscribe

"It would have been the Queen’s Speech to end them all. At midday on Friday 4 March 1983, the monarch was due to address the nation to announce that Britain was at war and – due to the “deadly power of abused technology” – a nuclear conflict was at hand." But it was only part of Wintex-Cimex 83, a large-scale annual NATO war game. This is just one example of speeches that were written in case of the worst, but never given.

Cracked has a list of 6 speeches that were prepared for dire events, but never given, with commentary on each speech. They include: Mentalfloss has a list of 12 speeches, including some of the above, plus:
posted by filthy light thief (31 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
mandarins even dreamt up the headlines they could expect from the Daily Mail.

Like, um.
"Told you so".
"Oh bugger".
or
"I'm on fire"!
posted by qinn at 10:58 PM on August 1, 2013


Some more from the BBC.
posted by epo at 1:24 AM on August 2, 2013


Like, um.
"Told you so".
"Oh bugger".
or
"I'm on fire"!


"Eastern European Immigrant Missiles Destroying Economy", surely.

"Does Fallout Cure Cancer?"

"Preganant or Chubby? Kate Beckensdale's NBC Suit Fashion Nightmare"
posted by jaduncan at 1:51 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


That exercise btw may have been the closest we ever came to WWIII. The Soviets were shit scared Able Archer was the prelude to a NATO attack on them.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:01 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My husband and I... are perfectly safe
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 2:29 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


@davidschneider: I love that bit in the script to be read by the Queen in case of nuclear war where she goes "FUCK! WE'RE ALL FUUUCKED! FUUUCCCK!!"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:12 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"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."

That's a bit rich. Given we were (I think) the world's third nuclear power, weren't (aren't) we also the abusers?
posted by dowcrag at 3:36 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure declaration of war speeches by the crown generally go in for that kind of moral introspection.
posted by jaduncan at 3:49 AM on August 2, 2013


the headlines they could expect from the Daily Mail

"Nuclear War: Could it Threaten House Prices?"
"Global Warming Sceptics Vindicated by Onset of Nuclear Winter"
posted by verstegan at 5:02 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in the Express:
NUKE BLAST
SAVES DIANA
FROM PARIS
SMASH DEATH
posted by bonaldi at 5:14 AM on August 2, 2013


For the Mail, more like:

Nuclear war: experts warn of wave of immigration to the UK
Scientists believe nuclear war could provide the cure for cancer
Mortgages to rise if nuclear war reaches British shores
Are today's youth too unfit to fight a nuclear war?
Has radioactivity ruined Britain's beaches?
Exclusive excerpts from Katie Price's new book: My Big Fat Nuclear Horror
posted by MuffinMan at 5:22 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Nixon speech about losing astronauts on the moon is still one of the most profoundly chilling pieces of writing I've come across. There's something very sad about the phrase "widows-to-be".
posted by fight or flight at 5:31 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My loving people,

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to proximity to nuclear detonation, for fear of thermal radiation; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. I am come amongst you, as those of you spared from flash blindness or retinal burns may see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and fireball-igniting heat of the battle, to live and certainly die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood and my remaining teeth, even in the highly radioactive dust.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the air-embolised heart and haemorrhaging stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that A-bombs or H-bombs, or any bombs of the Alphabet, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field, and by Christ, I will have the very flowers on my sleeves etched into the skin of my body by the flames of Hell themselves.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:54 AM on August 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


PHEW! WHAT A SCORCHER
posted by Wolfdog at 6:20 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks to Threads I mostly imagine a 1980s nuclear strike on Britain as taking the quietly devastating form of a series of elliptical, sans-serif, white-on-black captions.
posted by WPW at 6:39 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


How about when St. Ronnie outlawed the Soviet Union?
posted by Renoroc at 7:28 AM on August 2, 2013


Wolfdog, I award you all the favorites, and a lifetime subscription to Private Eye.
posted by yoink at 7:34 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading the Nixon speech it strikes me how candidly he responds to the criticism. Modern politics is built around obstinately ignoring the opposition and sticking to talking points, lest someone quote you saying something "the other side" says. It is refreshing and makes me think better of him, in spite of his deep faults.
posted by dgran at 7:39 AM on August 2, 2013


This is so strange, I had that Wintex-Cimex link already open in my browser as I was thinking about making a post on Able Archer 83 (which would've been a double). There is some Cold War angst in the zeitgeist today.
posted by slogger at 7:43 AM on August 2, 2013


Reading the Nixon speech it strikes me how candidly he responds to the criticism. Modern politics is built around obstinately ignoring the opposition and sticking to talking points, lest someone quote you saying something "the other side" says. It is refreshing and makes me think better of him, in spite of his deep faults.

The speech was written by one of Nixon's speechwriters, and was never seen by Nixon. For a better appreciation of Nixon, I recommend checking out David Frost's interviews with him. (There is a two-disc DVD release of the movie Frost/Nixon that has the actual interviews.) I didn't think they were quite the slam-dunk, open-and-closed case that the dramatization makes them out to be. I went away from the interview still not liking Nixon, but with a new appreciation for his rhetorical abilities.

There were a couple things from the interviews that really stuck with me. The first was not just his famous "If the president does it, it's not illegal" remark, but also the follow-up to that remark. Frost asks if the president could, hypothetically, kill someone in the interests of national security. Nixon says no, that's ridiculous. Now, 40 years later, Obama is claiming the authority to assassinate US citizens abroad without a trial, on the basis of secret evidence.

The other thing was that Nixon really liked Bonanza.
posted by compartment at 8:23 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why is it that if a man kills another man in battle it's called heroic, yet if he kills a man in the heat of passion the name of national security, it's called murder?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 AM on August 2, 2013


This is Arthur Godfrey, shitting his pants speaking.
posted by dr_dank at 10:07 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The UK has been destroyed. All contact has been lost. As captain of a British nuclear ICBM armed submarine deep beneath the ocean waves, you open the safe which contains the final - ever - orders from the British Prime Minister for just this situation: The Letter of Last Resort
posted by Bwithh at 11:13 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


And how do you, as the captain of an UK nuclear submarine, know that the UK has been destroyed?

You listen out on the longwave to see if you can hear the soothing voices of the Shipping Forecast and if Radio 4 has been missing in action for longer than a day or two, the worst can be assumed to have happened...

So now you know why Test Match Special holds such an importance in the British psyche.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:39 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


"And now the Archers, where today Eddie Grundy is having trouble with his newly irradiated pigs."
posted by jaduncan at 2:37 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing that once the Queen gave her speech, all concerned citizens would have reached for their "incredibly helpful and informative Protect And Survive manual" and dutifully followed its instructions.

Previously.
posted by stannate at 3:25 PM on August 2, 2013


On the other side of the pond in the New York Times...

"WORLD ENDS - Women, minorities hit hardest"
posted by codswallop at 7:32 PM on August 2, 2013


BBC Emergency Broadcast
posted by floam at 3:19 AM on August 3, 2013


And how do you, as the captain of an UK nuclear submarine, know that the UK has been destroyed?

Indeed, by listening to the message cunningly inserted into the dulcet tones of the Shipping Forecast

Viking
North Utsire
South Utsire
Forties
Cromarty
Forth
Tyne
Dogger
Fisher
German Bight
Humber
Thames
Dover
Wight
We're all fucked
Portland
Plymouth
Biscay
Trafalgar
FitzRoy
Sole
Lundy
Fastnet
Irish Sea
Shannon
Rockall
Malin
Hebrides
Bailey
Fair Isle
Faeroes
Southeast Iceland
posted by MuffinMan at 6:17 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


On a not entirely unrelated topic:

A youtube commenter (Lois Betancourt) on this musical video suggests: "This is the kind of music that will sound when the bombs fall."

And if I could go back and have my my mid-eighties nightmares back then I would totally have that track on repeat while watching the soft snow falling out the window of the big-big house; that snow that isn't snow but the end of all things: quietly.
posted by titus-g at 2:32 PM on August 5, 2013


And if I could go back and have my my mid-eighties nightmares back then I would totally have that track on repeat while watching the soft snow falling out the window of the big-big house; that snow that isn't snow but the end of all things: quietly.

Well, that was unexpectedly beautiful.
posted by jaduncan at 4:26 AM on August 6, 2013


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