The Speech of H.M. The King
|B.B.C. News 6.0 p.m.||3rd September, 39
In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to all my people, both at home and over seas, this message with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself. For the second time in the lives of most of us we are at War. Over and over again we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those who are now our enemies. But it has been in vain. We have been forced into a conflict and we are called with our allies to meet the challenge of a principle which if it were to prevail would be fateful to any civilized order in the world. It is the principle which permits the state of the selfish pursuit of power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, which sanction the use of force or threat of force against the security and independence of other states. Such a principle, stripped of all disguise the primitive doctrine of might and right and if this principle were established throughout the world, the freedom of our own Empire and of the whole British Commonwealth of Nations would be in danger. But far more than this the peoples of the world would be kept in bondage of fear and all hopes of peace and of the security of justice and liberty of nations would be ended. This is the ultimate issue which concerns us. For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear and of the world order and peace it is inevitable that we should refuse to meet the challenge. It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my people across the seas who will make our call their own. I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial. The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead and war is no longer confined to the battle field but we can only do the right as we see the right and reverently commend our cause to God. If one and all be resolutely faithful today, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, with God's help we shall prevail. May he bless and keep us all.