The Queen’s unused speech – secretly preparing for the worst during Cold War

A secret speech written for The Queen that was never used was brought to our attention again in ITV’s ‘The Queen: Inside the Crown’ documentary. The message was drafted to be used in the 1980s, at the peak of the Cold War, if the UK were to be attacked.

During her reign, our Queen has only spoken to her people with official speeches six times, the most recent being to mark the coronavirus and VE Day 75 celebrations. While two others marked royal deaths, the other was at the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991.

The Queen during her coronavirus speech

But there was another address prepared for a worst-case scenario: in 1983, the Queen and her aides wrote a speech in preparation for a potential Cold War attack, showing just how seriously the government took the Soviet threat.

The exact speech was kept secret for three decades, and released in 2013. But the ITV programme brought it to our attention once more.  No recordings of the speech were made, but the documents were officially labelled ‘secret’.

Robert Hardman, journalist and royal writer, said: “It would have been even more historic than her Covid address.

“This is her words to a nation on the cusp of thermonuclear annihilation.

“Here’s a particularly striking line: ‘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’.

“She is painting a very dark picture indeed.”

The message appears to prepare the country for the ordeal of World War III, as part of a war-gaming exercise. In the scenario, orange bloc forces – representing the Soviet Union and its allies – launch a chemical weapon attack on the UK. Blue forces, representing NATO, retaliate with a “limited-yield” nuclear strike, forcing Orange to initiate a peace process.

The ITV documentary followed the Royal family’s own frightening experience of the Coronavirus pandemic, after Prince Charles caught it, and many believe The Queen herself had a “near miss”.  It was part of a four part series ‘Inside the Crown’, which also looked at royal scandals, duty and love.

President and Mrs. Reagan attend a state dinner with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 1982 (The U.S. National Archives)

The film ‘reminds us of the Monarch’s steady hand on the Commonwealth tiller,’ ITV says, that it is ‘a personal project which has seen the old Empire transformed’. Her Majesty’s ‘measured response to Covid 19 (after a tricky 2019) may well have left the Royal Family in the best shape for years’.

You can catch up on the documentary here.

The full Queen’s Cold War speech:

“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 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 [the start of the Second World War].

“Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.

“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.”

The speech concludes by saying the Queen’s message to the nation was “simple”.

“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.”

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