Where was (is) the Queen supposed to go in case of nuclear war?

Has the British government declassfied Cold War era plans for securing the Queen and the Royal family? Was a bunker constructed for them ala the Greenbriar in West Virginia (where the US Congress was supposed to go)? I remember reading something about shipping her to Canada on the royal yacht, but that hardly seems practical given the time it would take.

Isn’t there rumoured to be an underground line beneath Buckingham Palace to enable the Queen to effect a hasty exit if necessary?

With the Prime Minister here?

As revealed by the National Archives’ 2004 ‘Secret State’ exhibition, the thinking in the late 1960s was that the Queen would be taken to an unspecified nuclear bunker and then flown abroad, possibly to Canada.

Isn’t God supposed to save her?

If he’s still on our side at that point, yes.

Canada doesn’t seem like a great choice. Given its proximity to the US and the fact that the two countries’ domestic defense infrastructure are largely intertwined, I doubt it would fare well in an all-out nuclear conflict.

Australia or New Zealand would probably be a lot safer.

There’s some interesting information (including details of various cold war bunkers) here. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been updated in a while, nor does it reveal the current locations or codenames for the government bunkers (probably because they’re classified).

This page details the provisions for protecting the Queen, and running the country after an attack during the cold war (upto the '90s). Apparently, along with the Queen, PM and Cabinet, a contingent from the BBC and British Telecom would be evacuated too.

Anyway, the bunker complexes used during the cold war were codenamed:

1954 - 1959 SUBTERFUGE
1959 - 1961 STOCKWELL
1961 - 1963 BURLINGTON
1963 - 1969 TURNSTILE
1969 - 1987? CHANTICLEER
1987? - 199? PERIPHERAL

Where the Queen would go after that is anyone’s guess… but during the Blitz the Royals remained in London, so I would imagine that they probably remain in the UK even if the government wanted to evacuate them to Aus or NZ.

The crown jewel were sents to Wales during WW2, I guess a quiet valley in Wales or remote highlands of Scotland would be the initial escape point (prior to a flight to Canada or New Zealand etc).

The reply to this message with permission to use George VI’s name is being auctioned on eBay.

Colour me whooshed… I have no idea what that means!

If it was in fact the case that we’d only get a three minute warning before the Nukes hit I dont think she’d get very far,not even as far as the nearest bus stop is my guess.

I don’t know about that. Highly populated and industrialized portions of Canada probably would get toasted, but I don’t see that anybody would waste bombs in the remoter parts of Canada unless they were specifically hunting for important people/installations that had been placed there on account of the remoteness. Remember, we’re a BIIG place :smiley:

As far as Oz/NZ, they might have some value as being ‘safer’, but that’s probably outweighed by it being a much longer trip from England.

I say hide her somewhere in Russia. They’d never think to look for her there!

It was estimated that there would be a ten day build up before the weapons actually started launching , since unlike the blitz , several nuclear weapons would render London uninhabitable. The Royals would most like be dispersed to several locations prior to the outbreak of hostilities. For a bolt out of the blue, their chances would be in corralation with soviet aim.


Not many people know this but Liz was, in the event of nuclear war, to be flown across the pond and there take up residence in Ned Flanders bomb shelter.

Que sera sera

Her Majesty would be protected against any immediate threat in the underground bunker system in London based at Buckingham Palace (SW1A 1AA) and after immediate clearance transferred to a safer place (say, Scotland) and from there taken to the safest colony.

My Dad was a senior RAF officer in the 60’s who took part in regular exercises simulating the response to a nuclear war. Talking to him much later - after he retired - one of the points he made was that, having come up with initial casualty figures in the multi-millions, you are still left with 40+ million British citizens for whom Her Majesty’s Government have a duty to help to survive.

In fact most scenarios did not involve an all out attack on major British cities - that would absolutely guarantee a complete retaliation on Moscow, Leningrad, and other major Soviet cities; not something acceptable to the Soviet government - but a more targetted attack on key military installations - airfields, naval ports, early warning radars and listening posts. Remember there has to be a military/political point to a nuclear attack - what’s the point of attacking London? Unless it is a completely unexpected bolt from the blue, most key personnel (including the Royal Family) are unlikely to be there.

There’s probably not much of one, if you’re being nice and rational about nuclear warfare — to the extent that the word even applies here.

However, during the MAD era with the Soviets, wasn’t there always the fear and expectation that a “limited” nuclear war could be difficult to contain? That it could easily escalate into an all-out bloodbath? And wouldn’t the unfolding of events depend, rather unfortunately, on the personalities of the heads of state at the time? (For example, I’m very grateful that it was Kennedy and Khrushchev in power during the Cuban Missile Crisis, not Nixon and Stalin.) A purely rational military strategy might be operative only during the early days of the war, after which it could degernate into spite and vengeance. It would need just one or two hot-heads at the top.

Incidentally, what happens in the movie “Threads”? Not that fiction proves anything of course. I know Sheffield gets it, but how about London? And is the fate of the Royal Family shown at all?

I wonder if the Queen would]ve really have gone along with plans to leave the UK in the first place. I can see her scattering her children amongst the various Commonwealth Realms, but she’d probally insist on staying taking her chances at Balmoral. Didn’t her mother refuse to take her and Margaret to Canada during WWII?