While we now remember the 1980s through the lens of Internet nostalgia pieces and Cheers reruns, it was actually a pretty harrowing time to be alive — but it could have been a lot worse, apparently. Speeches written for the Queen Elizabeth II in the event of a potential World War III have surfaced, and they make for surreal, terrifying reading.
Released by the British National Archive to comply with their 30-year rule — that’s the law which stipulates that the government release yearly cabinet documents to the public record after 30 years — the speech operates under the premise that England would have been forced to declare war sometime in mid March, 1983.
1983 was a particularly stressful time in international relations, as it was then that Reagan denounced the Soviet Union and began to rally behind the proposed ballistic missile shield plan known as “Star Wars.” Later that year, Soviet troops also shot down a South Korean airliner and almost confused a NATO exercise for a real attack.
In the speech, Elizabeth II would have shared a number of personal details with her subjects as she appealed to their sense of familial duty in time of war:
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.
The speech was written as part of a war-game exercise, which attempted to plan for a possible chemical chemical weapon attack against the UK as launched by Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a time when all of humanity lived on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, you can listen to the whole speech — performed by an actress — courtesy of the BBC here.
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