LONDON – British officials drafted an emotional rallying cry for Queen Elizabeth II as part of an exercise simulating the outbreak of nuclear war, records released Thursday show — though the monarch never uttered the words and likely never saw them.
The text of a dummy speech — prepared as part of a war game exercise in the spring of 1983 to spell out possible Cold War scenarios — was released by Britain's National Archives in a tranche of declassified documents.
Invoking family, God and patriotism in moving tones, it shows the queen trying to rally the country amid the threat of annihilation from a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.
"We all know that the dangers facing us today are greater by far than at any time in our long history," the text reads. "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."
The documents, which show the imaginary address from the queen dated as March 4, 1983, underscore the seriousness with which U.K. officials contemplated the nuclear threat.
That same year, President Ronald Reagan denounced the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and the U.S. deployed cruise missiles to Europe, including in Britain. The text also recalls the strength and struggles of the first two World Wars.
"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," the speech reads.
It has Elizabeth — who last year marked 60 years on the throne — saying she had "never forgotten the sorrow and pride" she felt as she and her sister huddled around the radio listening to her father, George VI, address the nation as World War II broke out.
"Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me," the text says.
Aligning herself with British families throughout the country, she refers to her "beloved son" Andrew, a helicopter pilot, fighting with his Royal Navy unit and stresses that "if families remain united and resolute ... our country's will to survive cannot be broken."
In the war game 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 the Orange bloc to sue for peace.