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The Third World War caused the total collapse of the United Kingdom as a viable nation-state, as many had predicted. While the national government was able to set in motion its emergency plans for the event of a nuclear war, the hardships and chaos of the aftermath prevented any successful continuity of government. Some of the UK's emergency sites managed to gain stable control over their immediate local regions, but these fragments were never able to reunite; the states that formed out of them remain independent of one another.
The pieces of the UK can be grouped into three broad geopolitical regions. The western regions are mostly members of the Celtic Alliance, anchored around the Republic of Ireland. The southeast is dominated by a confederation of smaller states, the Commonwealth of Great Britain, and formerly was the core of the Organisation of British Nations. In between these blocs are four larger states with a mostly nonaligned stance - Northumbria, Lancaster, southern Scotland, and Southern England - and a number of small, isolated settlements. Efforts to bridge these divides and competing interests have failed to reunite the country.
The UK was an island nation off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. Its archipelago included Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK with an international land border with another sovereign state, sharing it with the Republic of Ireland (which had become independent from the UK in 1922). Surrounding the islands are the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.
The Kingdom was a constitutional monarchy in which Queen Elizabeth II reigned as head of state. Through her, the UK was joined in personal union with many of its former colonies, the Commonwealth Realms. The country was governed by Parliament, which sat in the Palace of Westminster; the so-called Westminster system had served as a model for parliamentary governments around the world. Parliament was bicameral: a powerful, elected House of Commons of 650 MPs from single-member districts; and a largely-ceremonial House of Lords of over a thousand members, consisting both of aristocratic hereditary peers and appointed life peers.
The position of Prime Minister, the UK's head of government, was chosen from the House of Commons and was usually the leader of its largest political party. The Prime Minister and Cabinet were formally appointed by the Monarch to form Her Majesty's Government, though in practice the Cabinet was chosen by the Prime Minister. The PM at the time of the attack was Margaret Thatcher of the Conservative Party, at the moment in Canada on a state visit.
The UK was governed as a unitary state but was divided into four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Devolution movements were underway to create legislative assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but so far none had been successful. The Channel Island Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man were Crown Dependencies: constitutionally tied to the British monarch but not part of the UK, though the UK Parliament had the authority to legislate on their behalf. The UK had 14 overseas territories that were not constitutionally part of the UK.
Britain was one of the core members of NATO and a close partner to the United States in a host of other ways in what conventionally was called the Special Relationship. It had a significant contingent of troops in West Germany and a strong navy and air force. Thanks to its overseas territories, it had a military and naval presence around the world - a legacy of the British Empire, which at its height in 1922 had encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface, the largest empire in history. The kingdom's global influence was reduced by 1983, but still important enough to make it a major target in the nuclear war when it broke out.
- Main article: Doomsday in the United Kingdom (1983: Doomsday)
A large low pressure area was located north of Scotland with its centre between the Shetland and Orkney islands with a pressure of 988 millibars at its centre. Between Southern England and northern France was a large high pressure system of 1003 millibars. This configuration of pressure systems led to northeast to easterly winds blowing across the UK.
In Scotland the winds were registered between 30 mph in Aberdeen and 20 mph in Edinburgh, and across Scotland bands of heavy rain moved southwest across the country. The wind strength decreased rapidly the farther south in the country south from the town of Filey, East Yorkshire the wind was negligible. However, the minimal amount of wind blowing off the North Sea was bringing heavy sea fog and drizzle far inland. In areas with little or no fog the air temperature had dropped to around Zero Celsius.
Once south of Lincolnshire the skies were clear and due to the lack of wind the air temperature had dropped well below freezing to approximately minus 4 Celsius.
As the low cloud blew across the country it reached highlands in the east and it began producing heavy rain over Wales, Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall.
At approximately 1:42 AM GMT on September 26, 1983, American satellites picked up Soviet ballistic missiles heading for targets in Great Britain. Upon confirmation by ground-based radar, an official from the Home Office stationed at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, authorised the issue of the dreaded "Four Minute Warning".
Immediately the alert of an imminent nuclear attack was sent to all military headquarters, police stations, hospitals, and other key installations. A nationwide network of sirens were sounded. Radio and television broadcasts were interrupted and the warning message was broadcast from an emergency studio located at the BBC Broadcast House in London.
Despite the little time available, military personnel managed to evacuate some leaders before the missiles struck. Under the emergency plan code named PYTHON, adopted in 1968, senior officials in the British government were to evacuate in all directions to various pre-arranged bunkers and ships. This avoided the risk of congregating all officials in one place - the plan that had been in place before PYTHON - but introduced a new risk, namely that the different sites might have trouble communicating with one another.
Among those evacuated were Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip (The Duke of Edinburgh), who were at Windsor Castle. They, along with at least 20 minor officials, took off in helicopters specially designed to withstand the effects of EMP burst. The Queen's designated PYTHON site was the royal yacht Britannia. It was at Portsmouth, preparing for a refitting scheduled to begin just three days later. Nevertheless, its crew were at an even higher than usual state of readiness, tensions with the Soviet Union having been elevated since Soviets shot down a Korean Air Lines flight earlier that month. Britannia had just four minutes to get underway and only just managed to survive. By the time it reached Hastings to rendezvous with the Queen's helicopter, many of its crew were suffering badly from radiation burns.
Launches from the UK
The entire British nuclear arsenal (which consisted of Resolution class submarines carrying Chevaline SLBMs) was launched in a counter strike against targets in the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. military policy was that of the four boats, three were on duty and one in for refit. Each Submarine carried 16 Chevaline Polaris SLBM's, with a range of 1950 nautical miles (3610km). Each missile carried 3 x 200 KT nuclear warheads. On DD HMS Repulse was in dry dock in Faslaine in Scotland, unable to launch whilst not underwater it was destroyed when Faslaine was hit by a tactical nuclear missile. HMS Resolution, HMS Renown and HMS Revenge were on duty and launched their weapons before the first bombs landed in the UK, in total the UK launched 144 nuclear warheads, it is unknown how many detonated.
HMS Resolution and HMS Revenge survived Doomsday and reported for the Gathering Order. After debriefing the commanders of the vessels gave their targets as:
- Moscow - Multiple warheads
- Warsaw - Multiple warheads
- Leningrad - Multiple warheads
- Volgograd - Multiple warheads
- Odessa - Multiple warheads
- Nizhny Novgorod - Multiple warheads
- Sevastopol - Multiple warheads
Waves of Attacks
There were three waves of Nuclear detonations across the UK,
- The first wave of tactical nuclear weapons detonated across the UK military bases between 1:52 AM and 1:58 AM. One-MT detonations occurred over Portsmouth, Southampton and Plymouth (probably due to their large military bases) as well as two one-MT detonations over the City of London.
- Less than ten minutes later a second wave hit the 15 largest population centres across the UK between 2:02 AM and 2:11 AM. These were London (seven separate blasts), Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Leicester, Coventry, Kingston upon Hull, Bradford, Cardiff and Belfast.
- The third and final wave hit the remaining population centres and re-hit some of the population centres hit in the first and second waves. These hit between 2:22 AM and 2:36 AM.
- In total between 65 and 70 large (100 KT+) nuclear weapons fall on major UK cities and around 70 tactical nuclear weapons (ten KT) fall on military base throughout the UK on doomsday. Nuclear blast totals in the UK exceeded 15 MT.
Due to the time of the attack the first many people knew of the attack was a bright flash that woke them up followed by the blast wave that killed them. Of those who were awake at the time of the attack and survived to tell their stories, tell of seeing a new sun in the sky (or in some cases two or three) followed by hurricane force winds that were burning hot.
Although details of the destruction of London are sketchy, it is believed that at least 12 nuclear detonations occurred in the Greater London area, two detonation in first wave (over the City of London), seven detonations in second wave, three more in the third wave. Pilots flying over it have described it as "craters, rubble, and glass". The Greater London area is currently off limits to all but official scientific and military personnel. A thorough expedition of the wasteland would be completed in 2015.
A few targets in the United Kingdom avoided complete destruction due to malfunctioning missiles; these included:
- Middlesbrough - one 100 KT bomb discovered unexploded in 2010.
- Luton - (100 KT) hit Barkley-le-Clay ten miles to the north.
- RAF Woodbridge - The missile presumed to have been intended for the base was never discovered.
Deaths in the United Kingdom on Doomsday and within one week of the attack were estimated from 30-48 million.
British Dependent Territories
Many of the British Dependent Territories survived unscathed. However, some were targeted on Doomsday:
- Hong Kong - 1 MT
- Gibraltar - 100 KT
- Military bases on Cyprus - Akroteri and Dehkelia - 10 KT tactical weapon on each. All of Cyprus would later become part of the Greek Federation.
- British Indian Ocean Territory - UK/USA military base on Diego Garcia - 10 KT tactical weapon. The rest of the islands, the Chagos archipelago, would later be colonised by Mauritius.
With so little warning, most of the Cabinet and Permanent Secretaries did not survive. Only a few of the most senior officials made it to their destinations under the PYTHON plan, summarized below:
- HMS Osprey submarine training facility, Portland, Dorset - Acting PM William Whitelaw
- Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Lizard peninsula, Cornwall - Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe
- Taymouth Castle, Perthshire - Sec. of State for Scotland George Younger
- Old College, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire - Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine, Sec. of State for Wales Nicholas Edwards
- Royal Yacht Britannia and RMS Columba, Loch Torridon, Northwest Highlands - Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip
- Modified ferries MV Hebrides, MV Clansman and RMS Columba, Oban, Argyll - Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Food Michael Jopling, as well as some lower-ranking evacuees who were promoted
Prime Minister Thatcher was in Canada at the time of the attack, contact was lost immediately and she was declared dead (even though she wasn't) on 27th September.
Thatcher's deputy William Whitelaw, newly created Viscount Whitelaw, took over as acting Prime Minister. Whitelaw barely made it to a helicopter to escape London before the first missiles came down. Many members were not so lucky. While airborne, the Viscount had to ascertain who in the government had survived and coordinate the survivors' escape to various safe sites designated by PYTHON. He himself went to HMS Osprey, a minor naval base and training centre in the Isle of Portland on the English Channel.
In Portland, Whitelaw's priority was communication. He had to remain in contact with the members of the government who had survived, and find replacements for those who had not. He attempted to reach military and naval leaders who could confront any conventional attack that might still be coming from the Soviet Union. He also remained in contact with the royal yacht, from which the Queen made the formality of acknowledging the Viscount as the prime minister of her government, permitting him to drop the "acting" from his title. Whitelaw also made regular radio broadcasts to the nation, attempting to reassure anyone who might still be listening that Britain still had a government. Few of the suffering survivors found this very reassuring.
The situation during the next few weeks was grim. At every PYTHON site, it was all that officials could do simply to survive. Even congregating in one place was seen as too risky. The War Headquarters, an underground bunker near Corsham in Wiltshire, had been considered as a gathering point for the government, but it had itself been targeted and was now too dangerous. For now, everyone stayed in place.
Prime Minister Whitelaw and other members of the War Cabinet found it easier to coordinate actions with their nearest Regional Government Headquarters than with one another. Gradually this led to a more localised outlook among members of the government.
Since the start of the Cold War, Britain had emergency plans in place to activate Regional Seats of Government (RSGs) that would maintain order and manage relief in their respective regions until the central government could regain control. Most were housed in bunkers and other secure, last-resort locations. However, the economic slump of the 1970s meant that most of these sites were neglected - maintained but not updated, and now filled with out-of-date equipment and staffs not fully prepared. Thatcher had begun to revitalise this system, increasing funding, updating plans, and renaming them Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQs). But work had not progressed very far. New HQs were still under construction, and the refurbishment of existing ones had only just gotten underway.
When the war came, most RGHQs were unable to carry out their functions effectively. A few, such as Dover, were inoperable due to their proximity to nuclear strikes. Others were overwhelmed by the numbers of wounded and displaced survivors though a few were able to partner with local authorities or with national government officials evacuated under PYTHON.
The regions were:
- Region 1 (Northern): Hexham in Northumberland, using a former hardened cold store from the Second World War - survived, later relocated to Brunton Airfield, an abandoned RAF satellite site.
- Region 2 (North East): Bempton in North Yorkshire, a former ROTOR radar bunker - survived.
- Region 3 (North Midlands): Loughborough in Leicestershire, a former hardened cold store - survived a short time.
- Region 4 (Eastern): Bawburgh outside Norwich in Norfolk, a former ROTOR bunker - abandoned.
- Region 5 (London): Kelvedon Hatch near Brentwood in Essex, a deeply buried former ROTOR bunker - survived.
- Region 6 (Southern): Dover Castle in Kent, in the WW2-era citadel - destroyed.
- Region 7 (South West): Bolt Head / Hope Cove RAF radar station near Salcombe, Devon - survived.
- Region 8 (Wales): former ammunition storage bunker at Brackla Hill, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan - survived a short time.
- Region 9 (West Midlands): former ammunition storage bunker at Swynnerton, Staffordshire - survived a short time.
- Region 10 (North West): under a technical college at Southport, Merseyside - relocated to Lancaster Castle.
- Region 11 (Northern Ireland): Regional War Room, Mount Eden Park, Belfast - relocated to Massereene Barracks, Antrim, with support from Ireland.
Prince Edward had just arrived at Cambridge to prepare for the start of his first term at Jesus College. Cambridge was a target and evacuating the prince was impossible; he was killed that night.
Prince Andrew was serving aboard a Royal Navy vessel at the time of the attack, the carrier Invincible en route to the Pacific for exercises. The ship evaded attack by Soviet submarines and escaped from the Red Sea down the coast of Africa. Captain Nicholas Hill-Norton decided that the ship should return to defend the homeland from invasion; since the Suez would be vulnerable to attack, this would require a long trip around Africa. Not knowing whether the rest of the royal family had survived, Hill-Norton had the prince disembark in Cape Town, South Africa, for his own safety before sailing up the Atlantic coast. The carrier arrived at Portland with a small flotilla on the 19th October 1983 and immediately went to join other ships of the fleet at Skagerrak.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh remained hidden aboard the Britannia in Loch Torridon on the northwestern coast of Scotland. The situation there was desperate. Most of the yacht's original crew, including her commander, were still suffering from burns and sickness from the attack on Portsmouth and were unable to perform their duties. Crew members from other ships were brought in, but they were unfamiliar with Britannia; this combined with the overdue maintenance contributed to a fire that broke out and raged out of control in April 1984. Both the Queen and the Duke perished in the blaze, and only a few crew members made it to shore safely to report the death of the sovereign. Word was sent to Andrew, still in South Africa; he was crowned in St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town on 23rd April 1984.
Both Prince Charles and Princess Anne were in rural Gloucester on their respective estates. Neither could be evacuated immediately, but within two days aircraft were sent to bring them both, the plan being that they join the Queen in Loch Torridon. But Charles' helicopter went down, taking the life of the heir apparent. Anne's pilot then chose to land near the Loughborough RGHQ rather than risk the rest of the trip. But the North Midlands was not safe either. The site soon lost power and its outdated telephone system could not be brought back online. At this point, for all anyone knew, Anne was the legal sovereign; so the HQ assembled what vehicles they could, abandoned the ineffective site, and made for the Yorkshire RGHQ in Bempton, whose location on the coast would presumably make it less isolated from other surviving government sites.
In Bourne, whose local government was maintaining order reasonably well, the princess's convoy made radio contact with Bempton and arranged for boats to meet her at Skegness and take her the rest of the way. The plan was to continue from Bempton to Loch Torridon, but Anne chose to stay in place. Her son Peter had contracted an illness during the difficult journey, and it took the seven-year-old boy's life shortly after their arrival. For her own and her daughter Zara's safety, Anne stopped moving. The following spring, the bleak news arrived of her parents' death, confirming that Scotland was not a safer option. Northern Yorkshire would be her home for the foreseeable future.
Across the UK many military bases were hit with tactical nuclear weapons (less than 10 KT). They are believed to have been launched from Soviet nuclear submarines based in the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Many of the Royal Navy vessels were destroyed in attacks on Plymouth, Portsmouth and Southampton. However, most vessels at sea survived the attack and joined members of the UK government in their evacuation sites. Immediately following the attacks, many of the ships still fit to sail were dispatched to the Skagerrak between Denmark and Sweden, their task to block the Soviet Baltic Fleet from breaking into the Altantic. By the time the British reached the Skagerrak the invasion was already unraveling. British ships did much to turn back the Soviet forces that were coming through. When Invincible arrived in mid-October its aircraft were able to harass enemy ground forces, allowing Danish forces with Swedish help to recover Aarhus and northern Jutland; this operation is often credited with saving Denmark as a nation.
Some ships of the Royal Navy later traveled to South Africa, where they assisted in protecting the new South African monarchy under now-King Andrew. Many of these ships would become part of the navy of the Dominion of South Africa. Others, mostly those in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, traveled to Australia, responding to the famous Gathering Order.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) was particularly badly hit with almost every air base hit with tactical nuclear weapons. Older planes in the sky at the time of the attack crashed due to the severe turbulence and the electromagnetic pulse. Those which had hardened electronics discovered their air fields had been destroyed; they had to attempt to land in open country. Some airmen bailed out into the irradiated countryside and died of radiation poisoning. By the 30th September 1983, 95% of the RAF personnel had been killed or seriously injured.
The British Army was also hit badly with its bases and even some training grounds hit, it was estimated that four-fifths of the UK based army died with one hour of the attacks. Many survivors were on home leave and on returning to their bases found then obliterated. Of the surviving leading commanders of the army, several assisted in organising communities of survivors; some would become virtual military dictators in their local areas.The True British Army was founded with the participation of former soldiers.
Due to the education about nuclear war that the British people had been given since the 1960s, most people realised that the best place to be was under cover or inside. It had been decided by government scientists that it would be best to stay under cover for a minimum of three days, and five would be better. Many people survived due to this education.
Many people, however, had no choice but to go outside and move around the irradiated landscape, particularly in areas on the outskirts of bombed cities.
Within a week of the attack, law and order were collapsing throughout the country. Most county governments were crippled by the destruction of the main cities, and the regional bunkers were largely proving ineffective. Local police and the remnants of military units did what they could to enforce order in small local areas; over time, this degenerated. Some local leaders became petty autocrats; others became wandering bandits. Small groups of survivors formed to share food, water, and medical supplies, and these bands sometimes fought each other.
It is estimated that of the UK population of 56.3 million approximately 25 million died within one hour of the attacks, mainly due to the blasts and severe burns, another 16-18 million died within two weeks from radiation poisoning and lack of clean water. Millions more died during the winter due to the cold and disease that struck many evacuation camps. By September 1984 the UK population is estimated to be between 11-12 million people, with the most stable populations being in coastal Wales, far northern England, and Scotland north of the Central Belt.
The population continued to decrease due to radiation related diseases, famine and contagious diseases such as cholera and TB: it reached its low in early 1989 at roughly 6.5 million.
After the Queen's death, Portland became the chief point of contact with the new sovereign - her son Andrew, still in the British embassy in Pretoria, South Africa. Whitelaw was able to send a vessel and a few soldiers to help protect him in 1984, and he again broadcast the news to what was left of the nation.
By now, new lines of communication were forming in the south. While many of the nation's radios remained nonfunctioning, boats were regularly plying the water between the line of settlements still surviving along the southern coast. Communication further north was rather more difficult, and roads in many directions were blocked by radioactive fallout. Furthermore even some uncontaminated areas had become so choked with starving, desperate migrants that order had broken down, and they were not safe for travel either. The PM's horizon of action was drawing ever tighter.
Beginning in 1986, a dispute arose between the PYTHON site in Portland and the other in southern England, the naval air station Culdrose in Cornwall. The Culdrose group, led by Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, became intrigued by the offer of the new Dominion of South Africa to move close to Andrew and form a government in exile away from the nuclear carnage. Whitelaw was adamantly against this plan, but some naval officers were arguing that they could no longer maintain their ships around Britain and that relocating to South Africa could save a good portion of the fleet. So the PM consented to allow a convoy that would bring a good number of ships and soldiers to South Africa, together with some civilians looking to start a new life there.
The following year, with conditions worsening still more and famine gripping the nation, Howe and the group around him decided that they were not doing any good hiding in bunkers while the nation continued to suffer. Better to leave Britain and establish a continuity of government in exile. Along with a group of ship captains, Howe organised a Second Convoy, setting sail for Port Elizabeth and taking with them much of the UK's remaining naval strength, including the carrier Invincible. This marked the end of any coherence to Whitelaw's War Cabinet; from that point, the remaining PYTHON sites and Regional Seats of Government acted with almost total independence.
Whitelaw turned his attention to southern England. Major communities of survivors had taken shape on the south coast of the Isle of Wight and around Worthing and Hastings, along with intact communities further west in Devon and Cornwall. The people felt abandoned by the monarchy and by the rest of the nation. They would form the nucleus of a new republican state: Southern England.
The Republic of Ireland immediately stepped in to offer assistance to the Regional Government Headquarters for the northern province, helping it to relocate from its irradiated site in Belfast to the Massereene Barracks in Antrim. Ireland worked alongside British authorities to house refugees, on both sides of the border, and provide food and medical care to the survivors. But it did not take long for the Troubles - Northern Ireland's intractable conflict between Catholics and Protestants - to flare up again.
With many British forces deserting and leaving for Scotland or England, Ireland tried to step into the role of peacekeeper. But the Irish military found no more success at imposing peace by force than the British had been able to do, and the hasty departure of many British troops meant that the factions now could use discarded British equipment to inflict even more damage. Violence built steadily. British government sites in Cornwall, Wales and Scotland sent what troops they could, but it was not enough to replace the deserters, and anyway they sometimes made things worse by favouring the unionist side, just as Ireland was subtly supporting the republicans. Volunteers, especially from southern Scotland, arrived to join the militias; mostly these were people displaced by the missiles who saw the fight as the only alternative to life in a camp. They further destabilized the peace process.
Open warfare burst forth in May 1985 when the Ulster Volunteer Force attempted a full-blown ethnic cleansing of Catholics in some of the eastern counties. The Irish Republican Army, gaining control of parts of the west, retaliated in kind. At this point the RGHQ dissolved completely, and Ireland sought help from Scotland to restore the peace. Brutal fighting would continue for another decade, leaving the land blighted and emptied.
The UK government fragment at Taymouth Castle was isolated by its inland location and by the high level of destruction just to the south in Scotland's central belt. Still, to the north was a large area largely spared the worst effects of the nuclear war. While the Regional Government Headquarters scheme called for all of Scotland to be administered from Hexham in Northumberland, it soon became far more expedient for the Taymouth government to take on this role. Lines of communication were restored within a few months, and local police and civil defence soon were reporting to Taymouth. The successful evacuation from Edinburgh of George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland, also allowed for some continuity of regional government. A very similar pattern occurred in Wales.
Despite the fire on Britannia and the death of the Queen, three other ships were still being used to house government evacuees along Scotland's northwestern coast. In the summer of 1984, Younger, now the unquestioned leader of the British remnant in northern Scotland, called on the passengers there to come to Taymouth so that the ships - repurposed ferries - could be used to evacuate people from the Inner Hebrides, which were suffering from food shortages. Mainland Scotland was not quite as bad off, but the large numbers of refugees from the urban areas certainly faced hunger. From 1984 there were efforts to increase the area under cultivation; the nuclear summer of that year was good for crop yields and helped ward off starvation.
The Outer Hebrides, meanwhile, were more isolated from the mainland and relatively self-sufficient. There, the most prominent surviving official was Gordon Wilson, MP, the leader of the Scottish National Party and a member of the Privy Council. Claiming authority as the highest-ranking member of the UK government, he organised a separate administration for the islands, turning the Western Isles Council into an autonomous government. He also made overtures to the Republic of Ireland, offering to help mediate in the worsening situation in Northern Ireland. These efforts later drew Taymouth's participation in the peace process as well, and the three governments - Ireland, Scotland, and the Western Isles - signed a formal pact of cooperation in 1986. Its purpose was restoring peace and order to Ulster, but it was the origin of the much broader cooperative framework known as the Celtic Alliance.
The development of the Welsh PYTHON site in Aberystwyth paralleled that of Scotland in many ways. Wales also had a regional Secretary of State who also managed to escape in time, though Nicholas Edwards' escape was much narrower. Like Younger, Edwards offered continuity on the one hand, and a regional rather than a national focus, on the other.
Unlike Scotland, Wales did have a designated HQ within its borders, but the staff of the Bridgend bunker were hopelessly unequipped to deal with the humanitarian crisis in southern Wales. It never functioned effectively as a center of administration; but Edwards also lacked the resources to help it. Instead he had to focus on keeping western and northern Wales stable and united.
Central and Northern England
Great Britain experienced social breakdown throughout the area stretching from London to central Scotland. In the central parts of the country, the sheer scale of destruction and the lack of resources for survivors doomed a majority of the population. Most of the Regional Government Headquarters located inland did not function for very long. Not one of the HQ's anywhere was able to effectively administer the entire area assigned to it.
But four HQ's continued to operate within more restricted local areas. They would serve as the bases of stable communities - the future "survivor states" of northern and eastern England. Three in the far north of England can attribute their survival to their proximity to the coast and the support of the Crown and its representatives, who could serve to unify the efforts of the surviving population and build a new regional consciousness.
Princess Anne's arrival in Bempton, Yorkshire, injected hope into what had been a dismal community. The survival of Middlesbrough was an obvious advantage - it was by far the most prominent intact city in England - but it was surrounded by nuclear devastation on all sides: Newcastle, Sunderland, and Durham had all been destroyed by missiles. Fallout from these blasts wrought continuing harm on the health and safety of everyone, while survivors camped out on the moors or huddled underground in mines in horrendous conditions. Anne became a visible presence in the survivors' camps, and the unity that she inspired made it much easier for the HQ to do its job - which above all meant securing a renewable power source to prevent the Hartlepool nuclear plant from melting down.
In both Northumberland and Lancashire, the queen's Lord Lieutenant approached the HQ offering to serve a similar role, rallying the people and providing a sense of cohesion and continuity while the staff worked on restoring a functioning administration. Between the two, the Lancashire HQ at Southport was in a much more precarious position, so close to the massive population centers of Manchester and Liverpool. And in fact, within a few months the HQ was forced to relocate to the relative isolation of the city of Lancaster. The Northumberland HQ held out longer, but it too came to function largely as a camp for people displaced from Newcastle; the actual seat of governance was moved to a mostly-abandoned airfield further north out of harm's way.
Much further south, the HQ of Kelvedon Hatch, responsible for the entire region of London, managed to bring some order to the flood of survivors moving east into Essex from Greater London. Rather than inspire the people to a spirit of unity, the Kelvedon HQ relied on ruthless discipline. Authorities seized property from local residents, often forcibly and even violently. They conscripted the survivors to produce food and conserve supplies. Not far away, an American air base at Woodbridge was one of the few in Britain to survive, due either to a misfire or a missile that failed to detonate. The American officers assumed control of the immediate area. Because of isolation caused by other attacks, as well as the foreign origin of most of the troops, it was difficult for Woodbridge to coordinate with regional or national authorities.
All of these communities were chaotic and struggling. They laboured alone because there was no help to be found anywhere. Still, the HQ's and local provisional councils held out hope that a national government would soon be restored and they could step down from their duties. As the 1980s wore on, the death counts from hunger and disease continued to rise, and relief seemed ever more remote, the emergency governments began to look toward more permanent structures to face these challenges.
The Hexham regional headquarters was theoretically responsible for all of Scotland, but already in October 1983 it had restricted its area of operations to the far north of England, where it was preoccupied with helping survivors of the attack on Newcastle. The Taymouth emergency government assumed control instead - but the Central Belt, with its string of nuclear attacks, proved to be a formidable barrier, and south of it, Taymouth was unable to exert much influence at all. This region therefore was left with no government to speak of, and local areas tried to survive as best they could.
Southern Scotland suffered some of the same kinds of social and economic breakdown as central England. Most local authorities were overwhelmed by the collapse of trade and communications, and by people displaced by the attacks, many of whom were sick, injured, and hungry. The populations of large towns dissipated during the first two years after Doomsday. Small settlements that could support themselves on the land became the only option for survival.
The towns of Stirling and Lanark were important early centers for refugee settlement, and both attempted to impose order over their local areas. Stirling was quickly overwhelmed. It did not have the resources or the help that it needed to support the quantity of survivors who came into the area; within a few years, it was mostly abandoned. Lanark, then, became one of the main hubs for the refugee community. Hunger, poor sanitation, exposure, and radiation continued to take their toll, leaving behind a hardened and increasingly embittered community of survivors.
Wigtownshire was a lieutenancy area, equivalent to a ceremonial county, administered as part of Dumfries and Galloway. A number of features served to separate the region from other parts of southern Scotland: access to the sea on three sides, proximity to Ireland, and the encircling Galloway Hills. This situation enabled Lord Lieutenant of Wigtown, Henry John Brewis, to re-form a county government that gained effective control of an area slightly larger than the traditional shire boundaries by the late 80s. The county sought to cooperate with Scotland and Ireland, and a high level of mobility back and forth gave the people an intense interest in Ulster's floundering peace process. Ireland persuaded it to sign on as a Celtic Alliance member in 1994, and it quickly accepted reannexation to Scotland shortly afterward.
In the interior, a new regime organized itself in the town of Peebles, which became one of the leading refugee states in Scotland. It became the center of a loose and informal alliance by 1986. As the population of inner Scotland stabilized, the region came to marked by a tough, militant, somewhat paranoid ethic born in the hardships of the aftermath. There were a series of executions of alleged Soviet spies. Outsiders, including anyone associated with the northern Scottish state, faced intense mistrust. An armed populist movement replaced the alliance with a Scottish Republic in 1993. In 1995, clashes broke out between the republic and a pro-royalist faction based to the north. The fighting dragged on for years, during which the population of the region continued to decline as people departed for other places, principally the north, Wigtownshire, Ireland, or northern England. Conflict and social breakdown would continue to define Southern Scotland for the rest of the 90s and 2000s. The population south of the Belt and excluding Wigtownshire sank to the low hundreds of thousands and remained there.
The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands were mostly left to themselves. None of the emergency governments were specifically tasked with running them, and none had much to offer. Both, however, faced threats from wind-borne contamination, and both ultimately formed links with the republic of Ireland to help them address this.
Mann's links with Ireland began almost immediately because so many Manx citizens fled there to escape the effects of nuclear meltdowns at the Sellafield site. Cooperation over refugees paved the way for help with infrastructure and security. Nevertheless, he Isle of Man never stopped functioning as a separate country and a crown dependency. It dutifully followed the UK governments in acknowledging the king in exile and never changed or questioned its allegiance.
The Channel Islands faced a challenge largely unknown in the UK proper: foreign refugees, namely people fleeing France. Overpopulation and turnover led to hardships and instability in all the islands. Compounding these were leaks from a French nuclear fuel site on the Cape of La Hague, which drew still more people from the mainland and prompted the evacuation of the island of Alderney. The government in southern England had no help to send, but Welsh engineers, with funding and a ship from Ireland, worked at containing the damage. The episode served to estrange the Channel Islands from England while building closer ties to what would become the Celtic nations.
From the mid-80s to the mid-2000s, the fragments of the United Kingdom shifted into their new reality. New structures and alliances replaced the old ones. New centers of population and government arose to take the place of the destroyed cities. The former country found itself pulled in several different directions. The uncertainties of this era are often summarized as the Union Question and the Royal Question, briefly put: Would the United Kingdom ever be a country again? If so, what would it look like? Each community of survivors struggled for itself to answer these questions.
The Celtic Alliance
What was at first called the Irish-Scottish Alliance was confirmed on 20 March 1986 between the Republic of Ireland, Younger's emergency government in Scotland, and Wilson's autonomous government in the Western Isles. It was the first formal treaty entered into by a UK fragment, confirmation that the emergency War Cabinet was no longer a united entity. The Alliance's initial goal was to address the Troubles, now raging in surviving parts of Northern Ireland. The province had no effective government, the regional headquarters having collapsed amid the violence.
The Alliance was to work for another decade trying to solve the Troubles, proposing one solution after another. Domestic politics increased the challenge for Scottish and Irish leaders. The Scots were still under pressure to favour the Protestant side: on the one hand were the unionist militias themselves, who had to be shown that the peace process was beneficial to them; and on the other were observers in southern Scotland, with whom the Scottish government still hoped to reunite. Wigtownshire in particular was filling up with Ulster refugees, and with every move toward a solution that seemed to disfavour the Protestants, Wigtown threatened to cancel the planned reannexation. Irish leaders, too, faced pressure to support the Catholic side, again not least of all from Ulster transplants across the border. These opposing interests helped make a solution elusive.
Before the end of 1986, the county councils of the Shetland and Orkney Islands signed on as Alliance members. Those two counties, like the Hebrides, had continued to operate relatively well, but with little involvement from the national authorities. Their membership indicated that already the Alliance was expanding its purpose beyond peace in Ulster: it was going to provide a new framework for the relationship between the Scottish remnant of the UK, the outlying Scottish islands, the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland.
Despite its narrow initial focus, the CA ultimately did much to realign the geopolitics, the aspirations, and even the culture of the British Isles. The treaty, including later amendments, laid out a vision for a just and democratic world. It provided a new source of inspiration to many Britons after the fall of the United Kingdom.
Growing ties to Wales and the Isle of Man planted the idea of using a Celtic identity to promote unity among the member nations, since it seemed likely that most of the traditionally Celtic areas of the British Isles were going to be members. In the spring of 1993, a new permanent executive convened, and it adopted the name Celtic Alliance. With the consent of member governments, it adopted various pieces of pan-Celtic imagery, including the double-triskelion flag designed in the 50s by Breton activist Robert Berthelier. Eventually the Alliance would inspire and promote a surge of intrest in Celtic cultures, languages, and identity.
Mann indeed became an Alliance member that year. The tiny Isles of Scilly, representing yet another traditional Celtic Nation, joined the following year, and Wales the year after that. Despite the new Celtic name and imagery, ties were already forming with communities in England. The Severn territory of western England, centred on Shropshire and Herefordshire, became a full member before the end of the decade. The Channel Islands were on the road to membership, delayed only by the slow pace of their governing institutions.
For precisely these reasons, the Alliance provoked scepticism and backlash among many, especially in England and southern Scotland. The CA appeared to be offering an alternative focus of identity to the fallen United Kingdom. Many wondered if it would be possible for a community to join the CA while remaining British. Wales seemed to definitively answer this question in the negative, declaring itself a republic shortly after seating its first elected government in 1995. Scotland, which was also developing its own democratic institutions to replace the emergency government, remained ambivalent on the questions of Union and the Crown. Other critics complained of the outsized influence of Ireland within the alliance. The CA's expansion was characterized as revenge - Great Britain had once colonised Ireland, and now the Irish were returning the favour.
Republics and Crowns
The strong connection between British identity and the royal family ensured that the question of monarchy would remain a perennial controversy in all parts of the former United Kingdom. The death of Queen Elizabeth in 1984 was seen as a key reason why the nation failed to hold together in subsequent years; her heir's exile in South Africa was often cited as a barrier to reunification.
In many ways, Andrew's distance from the country made him something of a blank screen onto which monarchists and republicans could project their ideas of what royalty represented. Committed royalists and unionists portrayed him as an almost-heroic figure, the once and future king who would surely return to reunite the nation. Sceptics and opponents of the monarchy described him as cowardly or disloyal, running away to a faraway country - the fact that he had already been out of the country on Doomsday, and explicitly told not to return by the government, was not widely known.
As we have seen, the Celtic states approached the question in different ways. Wales explicitly declared itself an independent republic. Scotland remained coy, putting off answering the Royal Question, and the autonomous island counties followed its lead, as did Jersey and Guernsey. The Isle of Man, perhaps accustomed to the idea of a more distant sovereign, was the only part of the British Isles to continue honoring Andrew as head of state , naming him in legislation and using his name and face in official documents. Many of the Northern Irish Unionists remained loyal to the king in sentiment, but the peace of 1998 required Northern Ireland as a whole to follow the pragmatic, ambivalent course taken by Scotland.
A particularly strong reaction against the monarchy set in among the people of Southern England. Compounding the trauma of the war, the perceived desertion and betrayal by the king was painfully, viscerally felt by many. It was difficult to imagine an England without the royal family, yet now the people of England had seemingly no other choice. In the early 90s, Whitelaw's emergency government, together with autonomous communities in Hastings and Worthing, prepared to create a new, permanent government for the region. Whitelaw, certainly no republican before the war, now offered weak support for doing without the royals. He was less offended by Andrew's exile, for which after all he bore some responsibility, than by the departure of some of his own ministers and officers to go join him. Accordingly Southern England officially became a republic on 25 January 1992. Fully embracing this republicanism, it later adopted the three-banded Chartist flag.
In northern England, Andrew's role was partly filled by his sister Anne, who had made Middlesbrough her permanent home, now the capital of the emerging state called Cleveland. Within a few years, Anne felt safe enough to travel again, and she visited Scotland and other surviving communities in the north. She devoted herself to relief work and helping the survival of the British people as best she could. Anne turned over many royal estates to public function. Orphanages, hospitals, schools, and farming communes were integrated into country estates away from potential fallout from the urban regions. Princess Anne also personally oversaw the training of members of the Royal Mounted Corps and Royal Mounted Police in Cleveland, and a few times she ceremonially drilled with counterparts in northern Scotland. She made one visit to the troubled shore of Northern Ireland to meet with people on both sides of the conflict; outcomes of the visit were tepid.
Anne's activities would ultimately provoke a split in the house of Windsor. Amid her nonstop work and attention, she came to be well liked by the people of northern England. In comparison the King had not even visited the nation since his evacuation. The people of the north were beginning to sour on the king; songs of his cowardice could be heard at football games, and rumblings of disdain for the king in local councils and legislatures. During this time Princess Anne still held strong to the traditions of the royal family and asserted that Andrew was the King of these islands. She declared, 'As long as my brother is alive, there is a head of the House of Windsor'.
In 1995, Cleveland's government put the question to a referendum. The people voted overwhelmingly in favour of removing Andrew from his role as head of state, leaving the throne vacant in the meantime. There were calls for Anne to take up the throne but she continued to insist that her brother was the head of the House of Windsor. Once Cleveland's parliament made Andrew's overthrow official, the calls intensified. If Anne could not be the head of the House of Windsor, then perhaps she should Head a new house. After all, was not the nation of the United Kingdom defunct?
In 2001, Anne finally relented, though with some provisos. She accepted the title Queen of Cleveland, refusing to touch any previously existing titles. She also made a statement to the effect that she would step down if her brother ever returned or were able to exercise effective rule. She ignored the suggestion that she found a new royal house. It was a compromise solution, and for now it ensured that there were not calls outside of Cleveland for her to assume the British throne herself.
In most of Great Britain, the population continued to decline through the 90s and 2000s. The land remained blighted by contamination, both from the nuclear blasts and from neglected, abandoned industry. Few places could support any substantial population, and even fewer at anything beyond a subsistence level. These privations meant that overland trade did not revive, and many people continued to resort to banditry and raiding on the margins of the more prosperous areas. The growth of small states along the coasts served to depopulate the interior even farther, because these states drew away many survivors.
Matlock in Derbyshire typifies the settlements that found a way to survive in this environment. By the 90s it was a hardscrabble town of some nine thousand permanent residents that served as the hegemon over a modest hinterland. Its confederation was held together mainly by intimidation of nearby villages and by control of such activities as prostitution and mercenary work.
In some of the more rugged areas, peaceful cooperatives emerged: confederations of farming villages, often including large populations of city dwellers who had come fleeing the aftermath of the missiles. The group of communities that would form the Severn, which became a CA member in 1997, is one example. Another is the Cumbria Cooperative, centered near the Scottish border on Carlisle, which was now a walled settlement.
Parts of Cheshire came to be farmed mostly by refugees from Manchester and Liverpool, the original inhabitants of the area having moved on. Access to the coast encouraged strong trade links with Wales and Ireland in the 90s, and in 1995 the inhabitants of the region formed a government and promptly joined the CA. A community of Londoners fleeing westward followed a similar course. The forces left at Windsor Castle had managed to facilitate an orderly migration from London to the North Wessex Downs region in the years after Doomsday, and despite many hardships the people had built a stable society by the late 90s. Then, again under Welsh influence, they organised a more permanent government which they called the Wessex Republic. In 2002 Wessex also became a member of the Celtic Alliance.
Despite the enormous difficulties that the people of the interior faced just to survive, they also were the driving force behind the first broad-based movement for British reunification . What came to be called the True British Army began in the mid-90s and had its heart in Bedfordshire and northern Buckinghamshire. The TBA began as a militant movement of surviving police and veterans, but its true strength lay in young men who had been children at the time of Doomsday. They were old enough to remember the world before, filled with a yearning nostalgia for it, and angry at the lot that they had been dealt. The explicit rejection of old Britain by such major survivors as Southern England and Wales seemed to add insult to injury. The TBA offered an outlet for this anger. Its decentralized structure helped it to spread, and by its height in 1998 could claim the allegiance of survivor communities across a wide swath of England. Internal crises soon caused it to fracture. By the later 2000s numerous factions and settlements still claimed continuity with the True British Army. Most kept the military structure and a fierce, xenophobic anticommunism.
The East Rising
In the east end of England, a few communities of survivors managed to buck this general trend of decline. The regional leader at first was Essex; by 2000 it was joined by small states emerging around Woodbridge and Bourne. These three local powers formed a strong alliance characterized by a fierce independence, a tendency in tension with a commitment to British or English identity.
Essex had its basis in the emergency regional government headquartered in the Kelvedon Hatch bunker. The size and strength of this facility gave the government a solid base for survival; it weathered the isolation and hunger of the Eighties to become a functioning city-state. The intense irradiation of London and the Thames estuary prevented the Essex HQ from joining with Southern England as it organized itself into a republic, so it carried on in total independence. By the start of the Nineties, the survivors around Kelvedon were frustrated with the regimented discipline of the emergency. With the help of mutinous soldiers, they staged a revolt in 1991, overthrowing the emergency regime and setting up a responsible regional government, which they called the Combined Communities of Essex.
A bit north, across the ruins of the town of Ipswich, RAF Woodbridge, home to an American fighter wing, was perhaps the most significant air base to have survived in the entire UK. A tactical strike on nearby RAF Bentwaters had required many of the base's personnel to temporarily evacuate, but the base was reoccupied before the end of 1983 and became the center of administration for its immediate surroundings in eastern Suffolk. Woodbridge functioned for more than a decade as an American military dictatorship, and as a joint American-British military dictatorship for five years after that. These years gave Woodbridge, like Essex, a hard edge to its politics and culture, which the return of civil government in 2000 could not entirely remove.
The town of Bourne in southern Lincolnshire benefited first from quick decisions by its council and subsequently from its geographic situation. When both Lincolnshire's county government and the emergency RGHQ at Bawburgh ceased to function, the council sprang into action, organising a territorial defence force and setting up camps for displaced persons. In the coming months, the region's infrastructure began to fail and flooding began. Bourne found itself right on the edge of the flooded zone, the natural rallying point for people losing their homes to the inexorable Fens. Conflict over land was perhaps inevitable, and to give itself more legitimacy as a regional leader, the Bourne council declared itself to be a provisional regional government under the name of East Britain. The Brunnians asserted their control over the region, occasionally through force, and began the slow process of re-draining the Fens.
The three states had comparable experiences and came to have a similar mentality: survivors ready to fight to keep what they had achieved. They began to cooperate closely before the end of the 1990s, especially to maintain order on the roads and rivers of the region. Law-enforcement actions against bandits and highwaymen led to larger-scale operations against armed groups in more remote parts of East Anglia. Leaders and citizens of these three city-states came to see their particular institutions as the indispensable key to Britain's future restoration. This provoked a reaction from factions of the True British Army, which still claimed to control much of the east. By around 2006, TBA units in East Anglia had effectively reunited to resist encroachment by Bourne, Woodbridge and Essex and were able to coordinate attacks on envoys and scouts that strayed too far into their territory.
Dividing Ulster and Scotland
In 1998, the Troubles finally came to an end. Southern Scotland had definitively rejected reunification, in part over the Ulster question. By the late 90s an alternative Scottish state was firmly in place, centered on Peebles, and it was in the process of unifying all the communities between the Borders and the Central Belt. In 1998 the council of Wigtownshire, led by in part by displaced and disgruntled people from Ulster, voted to leave the Celtic Alliance, canceling plans of annexation to the north to instead join its southern neighbors.
Freed of this source of political pressure, Scottish negotiators consented to an Irish plan to make permanent the division of the territory, drawing a hard and permanent line between Catholic and Protestant halves. As a compromise, the Catholic side was to remain separate from the Republic of Ireland, though the mechanisms of the Celtic Alliance allowed for very close cooperation and the merger of some public agencies. The sides grudgingly agreed to population exchanges as an alternative to further bloodshed. It was a fateful decision, making the Alliance complicit in a scheme of ethnic cleansing. It would not be forgotten by citizens of member nations, by Alliance sceptics in the rest of Britain, or by neighbors in Europe.
East and West Ulster were now separate countries and Alliance members, and peace seemed to finally be at hand in Northern Ireland. The Celtic Alliance had finally fulfilled its original purpose. Advocates of the Alliance pointed to this as a great triumph; opponents pointed out that the solution had taken twelve years, had violated many people's human rights, and had required the dismantling of the country itself. The two Ulsters continued to face enormous challenges of depopulation and devastated infrastructure: between the two of them they counted less than a million people, and they heavily relied on Scotland and Ireland to meet their basic needs. And people in southern Scotland were more distrustful than ever of their would-be national government to the north. Bitterness over the Ulster settlements would poison relations between the Scotlands for many years to come.
Violence occurred sporadically during the next decade in both countries, though the less-organized state of southern Scotland made it the new center of unrest. Southern Scotland had no regular military, and this gave leeway to paramilitary groups, most with origins in Ulster but with plenty of local members. Paramilitaries harassed outsiders perceived to have connections to the Celtic Alliance nations. After 1998 a CA-built naval facility on the East Pier of Stranraer became a point of particular contention. When Wigtowshire left the alliance, most people understood that the facility would be handed over to local control. The CA interpreted the agreement as allowing for joint control, and it thus became the target of sabotage and bomb attacks. By 2010, there was still no solution in sight.
The decidedly mixed response to the Ulster settlements raised calls for the Alliance to be more democratically accountable. During 2008 leaders drafted a Constitution for the CA. It was an idealistic document, opening with quotations from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the medieval Scottish Declaration of Arbroath. Its bill of rights positioned the Alliance as the new guardian of liberal democracy in the British Isles. The document would be approved by voters and go into effect in 2009. The CA hoped to demonstrate that it was rising above its own social, ethnic and religious strife.
Over the course of the 90s, the British Isles began to look outward again. The peoples of far western Europe were growing more interconnected. Trade slowly resumed, including the trade of some industrial goods. People were starting to move around more frequently between the stable surviving areas. Since most of these areas were located on the coast or on islands, these interactions gave rise to a new geopolitical region, the so-called Euro-Atlantic Fringe.
Official diplomatic engagement followed the growth of commerce. The principal surviving governments in the Atlantic-facing West were Ireland and its allies; Iceland, Norway and Sweden (joined in the Nordic Union since 1990); and the remnant governments of Portugal and Spain, now based respectively in the Azores and the Canary Islands, though in Spain's case its strongest base of power had become Western Sahara due to a 1985 merger with the Polisario rebels. Most of these nations - though significantly, not Ireland or Sweden - had been part of NATO before the war, and based on the old alliance they had cooperated on matters of defence going all the way back to 1983 and 4, when they had done what they could to respond to the nuclear attacks. The depth of the crisis in the late 80s meant that these relationships became frayed and tenuous but not altogether forgotten. And as regional trade picked up again, leaders looked for ways to better integrate the region's defenses.
Military cooperation with the Western survivors was not particularly controversial in Ireland; the republic had already integrated its military with the remnants of British forces in Scotland and Wales. The Irish government had no objection to joint military exercise with its neighbors, though some parties and individuals certainly objected. But the idea of a formal defensive pact - a restoration of NATO - provoked more backlash. Interwar Ireland had been proud of its neutrality. Might not an alliance of this kind lead to another world war?
The turning point was the War of the Alboran Sea. This arose from a dispute between the Atlantic-based Spanish government and the rival falangist Spanish National Republic, based on the mainland. The Republic's ally Sicily intervened in 2004, helping the falangists take control of the Balearic Islands, meanwhile taking advantage of the dispute to expand its holdings in the Strait of Gibraltar and western Mediterranean. This posed a serious threat to trade between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean as it gave the Italians the power to close the Strait at will. The Celtic Defence Force and the Foreign Service of the CA reached an agreement in 2006 with Spain to send a naval and Marine detachment as part of an international force. The Irish government decided, provisionally, not to object. Many in the country worried that the effort would provoke more war, not peace.
But as it happened, the war ended successfully after quite limited combat. The international coalition drove Sicilian and falangist forces from the Strait and the Balearics. The operation showed that military cooperation could be useful, that it could promote regional integration and freedom of trade and movement. Supporters also argued that an alliance could help the British Isles defend themselves, should they ever need to. Most major Irish parties dropped their objection to a permanent military pact. The Celtic Alliance became a founding member of the Atlantic Defence Community in September 2007. It was a major step for the British Isles, the start of a renewed engagement with the rest of the world.
Not everyone approved of the military engagement. Some argued that it was foolish to spend blood and money overseas when so much of Britain itself continued to languish. This sentiment was especially strong in Southern England. The republic still considered itself in a sense to be the successor to the United Kingdom and had shown some interest in renewing the old NATO alliance. Now it rejected membership, and subsequent South English governments would continue to do so. This set the country on a course strongly favouring nonalignment and nonintervention. To many in England and Scotland, such adventures confirmed fears that the Celtic Alliance was relentlessly expansionist and hungry for power.
The Alboran War was a catalyst for Britain's next major reunification movement, which arose as an alternative to the Celtic Alliance. It was a long time coming. The three southeastern states of Essex, Woodbridge and East Britain had been collaborating ever more closely in a number of areas. The growth of overseas trade, especially with Flanders and Lille and the Nordic nations, created a need for more economic coordination on a regional scale. The three local governments had been discussing a formal economic cooperative for some years. But in response to the war, leaders decided to aim higher: an organization that could bring together all the independent states of Great Britain and give them a united voice in the world.
The result was the Organisation of British Nations. The three heads of government - Lee Evans of Essex, Mark Bee of Woodbridge, and John Robson of East Britain - signed the OBN into existence on 22 July 2008 and immediately made overtures to Cleveland, Southern England, and (South) Scotland. The formal scope of the new organisation was limited to commercial matters and the general promotion of goodwill, but it aspired to much more. Many Britons saw it the crucial next step toward a restoring of the nation - on their own terms.
Doomsday + 25
Demographics and ecology
In 2008, 25 years after the Doomsday nuclear war, the population of the British Isles stood at roughly 7.5 million, with a majority living within the Celtic Alliance (Scotland and its islands, and Ulster having an approximate population of 720,000 and a further four million in the Republic of Ireland).
Approximately 2,700,000 people lived in the area that used to be England, of which roughly 2,125,000 live in organised nations. These population levels were roughly the same as Great Britain after the Black Death (1347-50). OBN officials estimated that in November 2010 the population in survivor states in the former England would reach three million, by the end of 2011 this was expected to rise to approximately 3,030,000. In Scotland (including the islands) the population was 620,000 in 2008; in Ulster 320,000; and the Crown Dependency islands a total of 65,000.
Due to the locations of the nuclear impacts on Doomsday, the majority of the central UK was still uninhabitable due to damage from the blasts. Most of the successor states were therefore still centred around the coastline or in areas that were largely rural pre-Doomsday. After the attacks, surviving military and police force officers began building small personal empires based on fear and hunger. In some places, these so-called warlord states had been overthrown by their subjects and replaced by more democratic system of government. However, they continued to operate in some parts of Great Britain.
Similar to how the English nation continued after the Black Death in the late 1340s, many small villages with a population less than 1,500 people on DD had been abandoned, with people moving onto farming co-operatives or into market townships for protection and trade. Many of these market townships had a population of less than 2,500. Only a few towns or cities across the former UK had more than 25,000 citizens.
Large areas of land around the nuked cities became exclusion zones due to the radiation. By 2008 these areas had returned to the environment that would naturally exist in the UK. The majority of central England had returned to this 'wildwood' state due to the lack of population and agriculture. Some of the human populations in that area had reverted to a nomadic style of living, reducing the radiation doses they acquired by moving in and out of irradiated zones. Other areas remained too dangerous to enter, namely the sites of melted-down nuclear plants. The most dangerous spot in Britain was Sellafield on the coast of Cumbria, still a no-man's-land between Celtic- and Lancastrian-patrolled territory.
Britain's climate was warmer and wetter than it had been before 1983. This had led to significant changes in the agricultural produce of the islands. Perhaps most notable was the spread of tea cultivation, which could thrive under the new conditions. This had especially been promoted by the northern Scottish emergency government as an alternative to alcohol consumption, and was now grown throughout Great Britain.
Some new species were developing:
- A wild pig descended from domesticated pigs that escaped after DD. Populations of feral pigs replaced overhunted stocks of deer in the mid-80s, causing ecological damage in many areas. Wildlife management programs were underway to try reversing these changes.
- Many larger breeds of dogs went feral to produce a mid-sized wolf type animal.
- Feral cows and horses appeared in woodland and heathland particularly in Northern Britain.
- Rumours persisted of big cats in some of the more remote areas and in quarantine zones, possibly from escaped pets and zoo animals.
Many nations declared the bombed former military bases safe to enter 25 years after DD in late 2008, as scientists ascertained that the radiation levels were now safe. However, due to the time between DD and the 'all clear', the majority of any surviving military equipment had deteriorated to such a point that they were unusable and the bases themselves were completely overgrown with wildwood regrowth.
Future Habitability of UK Cities
Scientists working for the Celtic Alliance calculated that any UK cities hit with 100-KT detonations would be completely habitable again by roughly 2020, and cities hit by 200-KT detonations by roughly 2070. Any hit with less than a total yield of one MT should be habitable by 2120.
Cities with one MT or larger total blasts, to all intents and purposes, will be uninhabitable indefinitely. These areas are Central London (within ten miles of Whitehall), and five miles around the detonation points of Southampton, Portsmouth and Plymouth.
- East Britain - founded 1984 as a provisional government, based in southern Lincolnshire and parts of surrounding counties. Population - 57,000.
- Duchy of Lancaster - Established 1984, former county of Lancashire. Population - 215,000.
- Woodbridge - established 1986, Former Suffolk. Population - 150,000.
- Celtic Alliance - established 1986 and consisting of eleven member nations. Population - 5,500,000.
- Republic of Ireland (Eire) - founding nation.
- (Northern) Scotland - founding nation.
- Western Isles (Outer Hebrides) - founding nation.
- East Ulster - nominally a founding nation; full membership 1998.
- West Ulster - nominally a founding nation; full membership 1998.
- Isle of Man - joined 1993.
- Isles of Scilly - joined 1994.
- Wales - joined 1995.
- Cheshire - joined 1995.
- Territory of the Severn (Western England) - joined 1997.
- Wessex Republic (New London, New Windsor) - joined 2002.
- Channel Islands (United Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey) - joined 2004.
- Matlock - established 1988, founded around town of Matlock, Derbyshire. Population - 9,000.
- Essex - established 1991, former counties of Essex, Hetfordshire and parts of outer London. Population - 786,000.
- Federal Republic of Southern England - established 1992, southern coast from Cornwall to Kent. Population - 189,000.
- Democratic Republic of Lindsey - established 1992 as a loose confederation of townships in central Lincolnshire. Population - approx. 75,000.
- Duchy of Northumberland - established 1993. Population - 136,000.
- (Southern) Scottish Commonwealth - Founded in Peebles 1993 and has just recently come to encompass all of southern Scotland. Population - 151,000.
- Kingdom of Cleveland - established 1995, former counties of Cleveland, Durham, North, East, West and South Yorkshire. Population - 574,000.
- Cumbria Cooperative - Established 2001, northern Cumbria. Population - 14,000 Currently a protectorate of Duchy of Lancaster.
- East Anglia (True British Army) - Reunited in 2006 from eastern factions of the TBA that had collapsed in 1998. Population - 78,000
Of the dependencies not attacked, Brunei and Bermuda became independent countries, while the others became associated to larger nations or federations.
- Brunei was already scheduled to assume full independence on 1 January 1984; the events of 1983 merely accelerated this plan slightly.
- The Falkland Islands were annexed by Argentina in 1984.
- Bermuda became the independent Kingdom of Bermuda in 1987.
- Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1987 all became states of the Caribbean Federation, a republic largely dominated by Jamaica. Montserrat was almost totally depopulated following a volcanic eruption in the early 90s and annexed to St. Kitts and Nevis.
- The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, formerly a dependency of the Falklands, became a territory of the Dominion of South Africa in 1990 together with Saint Helena and Dependencies and the British Antarctic Territories.
- The Pitcairn Islands in 1999 became an associated state of the Australia-New Zealand Commonwealth.
The Turbulent Tens
The 90s and 2000s had seen slow, steady growth in those parts of Britain where organised states had managed to re-emerge. Towns and agriculture were recovering, both because people continued to move from the wildwood to the settled areas, and because birth rates were finally producing a natural population growth. Regional and global trade gave the British access to distant goods and markets for the first time since the war. Now during the 2010s, Britain experienced some pains from all this growth. The years 2010 to 2012 in particular saw a series of shocks. Emerging states fought over disputed land. Diseases spread in the newly-crowded towns. The turmoil gave new urgency to the ongoing Questions about Britain's identity.
Wars Local and Foreign
Saguenay and Sicily
The Atlantic Defence Community accepted the Canadian Remainder as a member at the time of its foundation. This was done in the interest of restoring the old transatlantic partnership, but it raised concerns that it might lead to military commitments in North America - a much more volatile region than it had been during the Cold War. These fears were confirmed in late 2009. Long-simmering tensions between Canada and the separatist Saguenay republic boiled over after the latter's prime minister was assassinated. Celtic Alliance diplomats were among the most active in seeking a peaceful solution, but this was unsuccessful. The Saguenay War broke out in September.
Forces of Saguenay and its allies occupied most of the Gaspé Peninsula. The Canadian government lost the confidence of Parliament, and the new Prime Minister Walter Natynczyk immediately asked the ADC for support. During the winter of 2009-10, the Celtic Alliance sent an armored division, an air squadron of the CDF, several ships from the Celtic Fleet, and a battalion of Naval Infantry. It was the largest international deployment to Saguenay.
The ADC's involvement in North America provided the opportunity for Sicily to make another attempt at capturing ADC-allied territory - this time joining with Tunisia to attack disputed land in Cyrenaica. Cyrenaica had a defensive treaty with Greece, and Greece asked its ADC allies for help in confronting this latest threat to peace in the Mediterranean. A small CDF force was also deployed to the Mediterranean, mostly navy and mostly after the war in Canada had ended. Second Sicily ended with the Treaty of Dublin in July 2011.
Saguenay and Second Sicily seemed like bad omens of the future. Routine global trade was only just recovering after long decades of isolation, and already large-scale wars were being fought over it. The double war provoked a backlash, diplomatically and politically. When Greece itself attempted a military adventure in Albania in 2012, the ADC offered no support and in fact suspended the federation's membership. While the Celtic nations by and large were proud of their soldiers' achievements, calls also grew especially in Scotland and Ireland for the CA to stop spending money overseas when the British Isles themselves continued to face such big challenges. And Britain was certainly to experience its share of the turbulence of the early 2010s.
The English Wars of 2010
East Anglia had been moving toward a full-blown conflict since the middle of the decade. The three allied city-states (Bourne or East Britain, Essex and Woodbridge) were experiencing rapid growth due to growing birth rates and immigration. This was matched by growth in small outlying villages where the True British Army was dominant, so open land was becoming a more valuable resource. Bands of the revived TBA were conducting raids on outlying hamlets and trading caravans belonging to the three larger states. The Army were in the process of forming something like a state of their own, which most people were calling East Anglia.
It was a conflict of different nationalisms: the True Army represented the British nationalism of the interior hamlets, diffuse, unorganized, with little government beyond the army's hierarchy. The nationalism of the OBN allies was rooted in their experience as coastal cities, highly militaristic yet valuing Britain's traditions of common law and civil government. Both sides ostensibly wanted the same thing, a strong restored Britain; but years of fighting made them see each other as enemies.
In the summer of 2010, the allies had built up their conventional forces to a point where their commanders felt ready for a decisive strike. They planned an assault against Bury St. Edmunds and its surroundings, a key forward position from which True Army detachments could (and did) attack all three OBN states. The town was too far from Bourne for its forces to participate, but Essex and Woodbridge amassed several thousand soldiers to advance on the town from two directions. The invasion of Bury St. Edmunds launched on 1 June. The troops reached positions near the town on the second day and endured nine more days of bloody guerrilla combat before forcing their way into the town center.
Taking the town was only the beginning, however, since Army units could easily regroup and the flat, boggy terrain of East Anglia offered few defences for the invaders but many hiding places for the guerrillas. Military commanders obtained permission from the three respective governments to continue pursuing the war. This time it proceeded along three separate fronts. Essex forces would push westward to secure a more defensible border in southeastern Cambridgeshire. East Britain would send a force southward to meet its allies by capturing the fortified base at the Isle of Ely. And Woodbridge would send an expedition to drive northward into Norfolk as far as the Wash. The objective was to gain control of the land lying between Bourne and the larger allies, and to drive a wedge through the center of the True British Army's territory, separating its Norfolk territories from those further west.
By the end of June, the OBN allies had occupied most of this land corridor. A defensive line on the road south of Cambridge kept TBA forces at bay to the west, and a similar line stretched along the Great Ouse from Ely to the Wash. The project to form East Anglia into a true state was crushed, its center occupied, and its army reduced to a poorly-organised insurgent movement. The capture of key leaders hurt its viability still further. Even so, allied plans to sweep east and occupy the rest of Norfolk were impossible to carry out. The allies would be kept busy defending their hard-won corridor. The True British Army was weakened and fragmented, but its adherents were more determined than ever to stop this forced unification.
Above all, the June offensives changed the nature of the conflicts in the south. Until then, all sides could at least claim to be working toward the same end, namely a restoration of a free and united England. Now, there were clear sides and enemies.
Zenith of the OBN
The rise in TBA activity also inspired some people living in the marginal regions of Southern England. The True Army had always had a tense relationship with the republic, and indeed its explicit embrace of republicanism in the early 90s had helped inspire the TBA's formation and was responsible for its ongoing commitment to monarchism. TBA members staged an uprising in Chichester in August of 2010. Southern England had to launch an armed offensive of its own to secure the city and maintain its always-tenuous control of the southern coast. This chain of events brought a wave of support for the Liberal Party, which had adopted a manifesto in favor of the Organisation of British Nations and its program of reunification through military strength. The party won elections at the end of August, and accordingly Southern England joined the Organisation that autumn.
Before the end of the year, the three northern kingdoms of Cleveland, Northumberland and Lancaster were persuaded to join as well. The Organisation's military success was attracting supporters across England; and anti-Irish sentiment was also at a high point in reaction to the FIFA World Cup in Dublin. OBN now seemed to be the nation's future: the alternative to both the un-British Celtic Alliance and the fanatical True British Army that so many Britons had sought. As if to confirm that this was the path forward, the Bourne city-state finally changed its name in 2011. After many years of pretension to being a provisional UK government, it now embraced a new identity as a distinct British nation. So East Britain changed its name to the Kingdom of Holland - taking its name from the southern part of Lincolnshire which the state mostly controlled.
The zenith of the OBN movement came in the following year. Many of the towns and villages of northern Lincolnshire had sat on the fringes of all these political currents. The True Army, the Cleveland monarchy, and the East Britain government could all claim loyalists here. Now, Cleveland and Holland launched a great diplomatic and economic effort to win these communities over to their side. Advisors visited towns and villages all over the region to help local leaders sort out their borders and promote orderly political intercourse. They offered OBN membership and infrastructure aid. These efforts culminated in the Lincolnshire Infrastructure Project in the summer of 2011. Teams set out from Cleveland to improve roads, build wind turbines, and refurbish a railroad through the region. They were accompanied by a considerable military presence, and by midsummer Clevish troops were stationed in a number of strategic points as far south as Grantham.
The Lincolnshire project brought in many prospective members to the Organisation. The strongest of the local states, the Democratic Republic of Lindsey, rejected membership; but many of the smaller states readily agreed, including the inland region of Kesteven and the coastal towns of Mablethorpe and Skegness. Their political institutions were deemed too underdeveloped for full membership, but before the end of the year all three states had begun the process of joining.
The Galloway War
Tensions between the Scotlands also grew in 2010. Increasing trade and travel meant more opportunities for those looking to disrupt things. Not long after a rail line opened between Northumberland-controlled Cumbria and Stirling, a Scottish militia captured a passenger train. It was released not long after with all passengers safe and sound - evidently the militants simply wanted to scare them and send a message. Attacks on the Stranraer facility picked up in early 2011, culminating in a massive night raid that destroyed some patrol boats and most of the CA's stored weapons. When the southern government refused to either take responsibility for or denounce the attack, the north asked the CA for a declaration of war.
The Galloway War erupted on 29 April 2011 when a flotilla sailed from Belfast to Stranraer and made a frontal assault on the port, sinking several vessels and escalating the conflict considerably. A few days later the CNDF followed this up by capturing the city of Ayr, southern Scotland's principal west-facing port. Detachments of ground troops set out from Ayr and Stranraer, hoping to gather reconnaissance that would enable CA forces to quickly overwhelm the south. But guerrillas harassed the detachments in the Galloway Hills, forcing them to return to secure towns a few days later. A force from Northumberland arrived to join the offensive, but commanders could see that even with their support, the only options were either sue for peace or prepare for a drawn-out civil war. Alliance leaders accordingly began negotiating. Actual combat lasted less than two weeks.
Southern English diplomats acted as mediators and remained in Scotland for a year to see that the treaties were observed. The CA would relinquish all occupied territory but in return get sole control over the pier in Stranraer. Both the CA and Northumberland demanded that southern Scotland disband all paramilitaries and create a regular armed force under civil control. The south agreed readily to this: many were calling for this already - to better prepare to fight the northerners next time. The paramilitaries were disarmed or incorporated into the Scottish army over the next several months.
The English Wars of 2011
The success of the OBN in 2010-2011 provoked an inevitable backlash in the second year of the Turbulent Tens. In May, the theatre of operations was Kent. The county had been on the edge of Southern England's zone of influence since the days of the emergency government, when technicians prevented a meltdown at the Dungeness nuclear plant, thus saving the town of Hastings. More recently villages with ties to the republic had been repopulated along the southern coast at Hythe and Folkestone. Meanwhile Essex had sponsored a privatised resettlement of the Isle of Sheppey and enjoyed strengthening ties to villages of the north coast. Under the auspices of the OBN, Essex and Southern England planned to partition the rest of Kent.
Such a partition might have been possible at a different time, but decades of neglect combined with the events of the past year meant that the inhabitants of Kent did not welcome this kind of high-handed treatment. The leading settlements were Ashford and Canterbury, and now leaders from both villages joined together to oppose any annexation. For good measure they declared their support for the True British Army and, through visiting journalists, offered to support any TBA fighters who could make the trip. This provided a pretext for an invasion of Kent by both states, launched along two fronts at once on 15 May.
The invasion began with an impressive show of force by both armies, and they made rapid progress toward their goal, the town of Ashford. In fact the town and roads to it were occupied with very little resistance. But a guerrilla campaign began not long after. The armies had entered Kent expecting to take key towns and be recognized as the legitimate government. Instead they faced the difficult task of pacifying an unruly countryside. The operation was concluded in June when Essex withdrew the bulk of its troops - they were needed elsewhere - and Southern England reassigned most to more securely-held positions along the coast.
The True British Army launched a new round of attacks that same summer in its core areas of East Anglia and the eastern Midlands. In part this was because the militia had regrouped under a new junta based in Oakham in Rutland; in part the attacks were a retaliation for the invasion of Kent. Holland and Essex responded with their largest joint operation yet: an all-out assault on the TBA's central fortifications. They were joined by Cleveland, operating from positions it had only recently occupied in central Lincolnshire. The action was dubbed the the Great Rutland War, touted as the war that would eradicate the TBA once and for all. The stronghold fell in less than two weeks - but the insurgency itself did not stop, it merely went underground. The road between Chelmsford and Bourne, where the OBN allies were trying to build a railroad, was especially prone to hit-and-run attacks.
Royals Local and Foreign
The 2010s began with the Royal Question still wide open in most of the former United Kingdom. But events seemed to force decisions to be made regarding this Question too. By the end of the decade, most of the nations of Britain were either confirmed republics or loyal realms of a new royal house.
The Royal Tour
A major turning point on the Royal Question came in 2010. That year saw a flurry of diplomatic efforts by the Dominion of South Africa centered on the royals. King Andrew made a major voyage to Victoria (British Columbia) early in the year - his first trip overseas - and presided over the official reestablishment of the Commonwealth of Nations. Both he and the Dominion government wished to cap this off with a tour of Britain. Planning such an event was difficult and delicate but finally went forward in September. Several British states prepared to finally meet the man who would be king. Local leaders strove to have a well choreographed, apolitical visit that would avoid disrupting the status quo; in this respect, they failed resoundingly.
Even before the visit began, it was marred by plans to hold a protest at the king's port of disembarkation, Poole in Southern England. A vulgar pamphlet circulated denouncing Andrew for "gallivanting across the colonies rather than dealing with the shit at home;" it brashly concluded: "Stay on your boat, your Highness, lest your velvet gloves be dirtied." Southern England boosted the police presence in Poole to ensure that the event went smoothly, and in the end Andrew was greeted with an enthusiastic crowd waving British flags; yet this only served to increase the ill will among the opponents of Restoration - which was a solid majority of people in the South.
This climate of low-level hostility followed the king for the rest of the fortnight that he spent in the southern states. Essex, like Southern England, clamped down on large-scale protests but did not stop hecklers from disrupting Andrew's appearances. The leaders of Woodbridge put on a full military parade but made no effort to stifle protesters, which made for a decidedly ambivalent climax to this leg of the royal tour.
The much more pro-royalist North of England at first seemed to offer a respite from these troubles. Princess Anne - now, of course, Queen Anne of Cleveland - warmly greeted her brother at Dundee in Scotland before accompanying him to her seat in Middlesbrough. Most of the public events proceeded without any open displays of hostility. But behind the scenes, Andrew stumbled into a series of missteps that, when leaked to the press, served to turn the people of the North decidedly against him.
Here too, the problems began before the king arrived. His staff had inquired about a stay in Balmoral, which since had been converted into a hospice and medical school, at Anne's initiative. The king had apparently been disappointed at the fact the royal castles has been turned over to public use without consulting him.
On the day of his arrival, after an uneventful public appearance, Andrew sat down with his sister to meet with Cleveland's prime minister and several members of the Parliaments of both Cleveland and Northumberland. Andrew's tone and demeanor at that meeting alienated even his supporters. He jokingly thanked Anne for "keeping the throne warm" for him, seemingly belittling the efforts of a woman who was a hero to most people in the region. Anne took it gracefully, but many were incensed. Despite all his preparation, in which he was told not to imply any actual authority in the home country, Andrew blurted out that he considered himself "King of all the British, at home and abroad." At this a Cleveland MP snapped back "Not in Cleveland, you muppet." This rattled the king, who quickly went off script, and the meeting descended into open confrontation. Needless to say, all of this got out to the press immediately.
The next day, during an otherwise friendly interview with a reporter, the king stumbled again when he praised the Unionists in Northern Ireland for remaining loyal to his mother and the crown in the face of treachery. At this point the peace in Northern Ireland was fragile at best, the question of head of state deferred indefinitely. Andrew threatened to disrupt this with a single comment. Member nations of the Celtic Alliance were forced to respond with statements correcting the king and warning him to speak with more caution. Tabloids denounced the interview as "an entitled rant" and "a failed opportunity to rally the British people." One Northern Irish commentator said that "peace is earned by hard work, not by escaping to Africa."
The final stop of the tour, the Isle of Man, should have been a triumph: Mann was the only part of the British Isles that had never stopped acknowledging Andrew as its head of state, and its people greeted their king with wild enthusiasm. But by then Andrew was exhausted. The trip had achieved the opposite of its intent. The legitimacy of the House of Windsor in Britain was badly shaken, and insofar as the people felt any loyalty to it, it was to Anne, not Andrew. Britain was entering a new age, but how would this be achieved with Anne so reluctant to step into the role of monarch?
The Royal Schism
The tour of 2010 damaged not just Andrew's reputation at home, but also his relationship with his sister. The two had been corresponding regularly since reliable contact had been restored; now, they mostly sent terse messages through official diplomatic channels. Anne did what she could to contain the damage, but public opinion had undergone a permanent shift across the island.
Meanwhile, the queen's own health was declining. She had already suffered a riding accident the previous spring. That together with her ongoing problems caused by radiation already had led her to announce that she would abdicate at the end of the year. But now she knew that she could not remove herself fully from public life: she would need to advise and support her daughter as she dealt with a flurry of now-inevitable constitutional questions.
Change came slowly but steadily. Both Zara and her mother found their days filled with messages and visits from committees, both official and unofficial, from all around Great Britain, all of them interested in the idea of a royal restoration. Some states began to explore tentative ties.
A consensus began to emerge that Zara should name a new royal house, a branch of the House of Windsor but distinct from it. Declaring a new house would be a momentous step, and both Zara and Anne hesitated to take it as long as Andrew was alive. Even now, they did not want to provoke undue strife in the family or in world affairs. But Andrew's unexpected death in 2015 - in a plane crash over the Atlantic - changed the equation. Andrew's son William V was born in Africa, had never been to Britain, and seemed even more disconnected from the struggles and concerns of its people. Cleveland's government agreed with Zara that the opportunity had come to declare a new royal house for Britain.
It took still more time to communicate with South African diplomats and with William's household, working out a time, place and manner that would avoid causing offence. The announcement finally came early in 2018. From now on, Zara, her husband George, and their three children would now be known as the House of Bamburgh. Bamburgh Castle had been the seat of the ancient Northumbrian kings and belonged to the Crown through the Stuart period. Its modern owners, the Armstrong family, had lost control of it in a series of disputes going back to the 1970s and culminating in a default not long after Doomsday. It was considered state property of Northumberland, which used it as the meeting place for its parliament. Now the state donated it to the Crown to serve as its ceremonial seat. Nothing could be more fitting, considering the simultaneous consolidation of a new Kingdom of Northumbria.
The neighboring states of Cleveland and Northumberland had already been pursuing closer ties when the opportunity arose to arrange an old-fashioned political marriage between Zara and George Percy, heir to the duchy of Northumberland. The marriage gave some concreteness to the idea of unification, and both governments were willing to commit to the idea of forming a single kingdom under Zara and George's child - a timetable in the decades that would allow for plenty of unforeseen circumstances. But now, the same currents that were building support for Zara around Britain were also building a desire to speed up the planned unification. The name chosen was the Kingdom of Northumbria: a state that would reunite most of the north of England.
Parties and activists in both states now called for a much accelerated timetable. Government-related agencies in the two states began to merge in 2011 - the wildlife trust and the national railway company. More direct collaboration between the two governments picked up in earnest in 2015, when both cabinets came under the control of parties explicitly favouring unification. An Act of Union in each parliament finally combined the kingdoms, with Northumberland insisting on one more referendum to confirm the union. While they were considered to be one kingdom and one nation from that point, the acts set a four-year timetable for combining all government functions and offices. The march toward reunification under a new royal house seemed to signal a significant course change for Great Britain.
Decline of the OBN
As the insurgencies lengthened against the OBN states in both Kent and East Anglia, more and more people began to question the whole project. Was this really the way to restore Great Britain - waging war on anyone resisting annexation by particular member states? Opposition parties Southern England called for a consistent policy of nonalignment, while Cleveland began to withdraw military forces from south of the Humber.
The summer of 2012 saw a new crisis that badly damaged confidence in the Organisation. A virulent strain of influenza that became known as "the White Death" broke out in southeastern England. It was first observed in ports in Kent, but genetic testing later showed that it had spread from inside England rather than from the Continent. Essex and Woodbridge were hit particularly hard. It hurt their military effectiveness, causing them to withdraw from many of the areas that they had occupied in 2010 and 2011.
The Essaxon government's response to the epidemic drew a great deal of criticism. High Minister Jim Barker-McCardle refused offers of aid from the Celtic Alliance, including a vaccine shown to be effective. The OBN had been founded in part as a bloc to rival the growth of the Alliance, and the High Minister's actions were viewed as a reflection of this ideology.
Barker-McCardle relented eventually, but his response to the White Death compounded the other problems - the ongoing fighting in East Anglia, the overall failure of military occupations in many areas, a simultaneous corruption scandal that toppled the government of Woodbridge. Peter Brand's Liberal government fell in Southern England in 2013, and the new government soon began the process of withdrawing from the OBN, announcing that neutrality and nonalignment would be the republic's new policy. In a memorable speech, the new Prime Minister Nicholas Soames said: "I believe with all my heart that Britain will one day be a nation again. But this was not the moment, and this was not the way."
When Southern England pulled out, the North soon followed. Lancaster stopped participating in the Organisation not long after. Cleveland and Northumberland simply allowed their membership to lapse after their 2016 Acts of Union merged them into the Kingdom of Northumbria. Cleveland and Northumberland had been OBN members, but Northumbria was not.
In many ways this returned England to the status quo before 2010, though with some important differences. The True British Army itself was evolving, the angry generation of the 90s having grown up. The new generation of fighting-age men was much smaller, for one thing, having been born in the age of rock-bottom birth rates. For another thing, they had no personal memory of prewar Britain. While the leaders continued to fight for a restored Britain, including a king and queen, the new generation was fought more to defend their communities - the small, tough, independent villages where they had grown up. They still by and large subscribed to the True Army's authoritarian ideology and militant methods, but their dream was of a Britain where the larger states left the small ones alone.
As the OBN withdrew from its occupied territories, settlements like Oakham and Ely reverted to alignment with the True Army, but it was a different True Army than before; its animating principle was local self-rule rather than heroic restoration. And thanks in no small part to the OBN occupiers themselves, the settlements were much better equipped for civil government. Many of their citizens hoped that even under TBA rule, they could join the community of English survivor states on equal terms.
The New Britains
The United Kingdoms
By the second half of the 2010s, royalists and unionists throughout the British Isles were pinning their hopes to Zara and her family. Now a concrete proposal arose to recognize her rule: a new entity called the United Kingdoms of Great Britain. This would not be a nation - the parts of the old UK had drifted too far apart for that, at least in the short and medium term - instead, this new UK was to be a collective of nations which would recognise the same monarch. Each would continue to function with its own governance but was joined in loyalty to the House of Bamburgh and the spirit of Great Britain, while pledging to maintain a close bond of international friendship.
This proposal was especially influential in the north of England, where Zara already reigned as Queen of Cleveland and - from 2016 - of Northumbria. Lancaster in 2017 brought closure to its decades of a vacant throne and recognised her as well, enthroning her as Duke of Lancaster in a joyful ceremony. The different parts of the Channel Islands, citing precedent from historic succession disputes, recognised Zara over the following year. Outside these states, monarchies already, Zara enjoyed some popular support but not enough to effect constitutional change. Neither of the Scotlands was ready to take the step; for decades they had struggled and survived without a monarch, and support to restore one was not strong enough. The southeastern states remained ambivalent. Southern England and Wales had decisively embraced republicanism, and despite some support in some areas like Cornwall, the nations did not seriously consider it.
Irelands and Scotlands
Many on both sides of the Central Belt refused to give up on the idea of a united Scotland. After coming back from the brink of a protracted war, the two rival states improved their relations over the course of the 2010s. Some pan-Scottish cultural institutions reappeared, culminating in the restoration, to great fanfare, of Scotland's national football team in 2018.
But true reunification remained far off despite these promising signs. No northern government would ever agree to a united Scotland that was not part of the Celtic Alliance, and no southern government would ever agree to a Scotland that was. The two halves of the country had gone separate ways and had divergent interests and politics.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland was still haunted by the ghosts of its past, but by the later 2010s these seemed to indeed be receding into the past. The delicate status quo faced a major disruption in 2019 when East Ulster's assembly cconsidered a bill to restore the Crown, joining the states of northern England. Wary alliance-wide negotiations looked into the ramifications of such a step, and in the end a favorable agreement allowed the east to move forward pending a referendum and various other pieces of legislation. The process was finally completed in 2022, with Zara expected to take the throne later in the year.
The other side of this agreement was that just as East Ulster would finally get what its people had always wanted, the same would be granted to West Ulster. The process of reuniting with Eire was finally put in motion. It would take more time than the settlement for the east, since an administrative merging involves much more than simply naming a head of state. Following a referendum, a date for reunification was planned for late 2023 or early 2024. It was not exactly a favorable solution to the problems in Northern Ireland - so much was still unresolved, and nobody had yet issued so much as an apology for the ethnic cleansings of the 90s, let alone reparations for lost homes and lives. But it was a stable solution. Finally there seemed to be a way out of the limbo that Northern Ireland had been in since the end of the Troubles.
The New Commonwealth
The southeast remained in a disordered state. Fighting continued on a small scale between the OBN states and the True British Army - though the latter was coming to resemble the former, an alliance of city-states more than a nationwide militant movement. But the two sides still lacked a reason to move on from their past conflicts. A new movement for unity rapidly gained strength at the end of the 2010s.
The impetus came from yet another militant group, the Sons of de Montfort. The Sons emerged around 2012 during the time when OBN-enforced hegemony was breaking down. Their base was not the emerging communities of the southeast, but the even wilder western Midlands, the lands between ruined cities that still could not support a large population. The Sons drew away some of the more militant TBA members after the Army re-established its power in Rutland. They became the dominant power in and around the sparsely inhabited lands of Leicestershire.
By 2018 history seemed to be repeating itself. As settlements grew in Lincolnshire and Rutland, they encroached on areas where the Sons of de Montfort were active, causing conflict in the disputed areas. The small but growing overland trade through the Midlands became more dangerous. Farms on the outskirts saw raids, causing people to abandon some outlying villages. The crisis called for a united response from the states most effected: Rutland, still loyal to the TBA; Kesteven, a newer state and a member of the OBN; and Lindsey, the leading local power to have stayed out of both alliances. Leading the response was Kesteven's chief councillor, Edward Poll, who was to become the central figure in the New Commonwealth movement.
Poll, who had served in both the military and government of East Britain before moving to Kesteven, masterminded a successful military action to Loughborough, followed by a promising agreement to end hostilities, draw borders, recognise Leicestershire's independent government, and allow it to extract reasonable tolls from the overland trade. This success made Poll by far the most popular leader in the east, and a populist movement - a cult of personality, according to critics - took shape around him. In 2019 he stepped down from his post in Kesteven to accept his selection, amid much popular acclaim, to the post of chairman of the OBN.
Now chairman, Poll and his supporters called to replace the Organisation itself with something new, a confederation that would be more equitable and respectful to Britain's smaller settlements, while being stronger and better able to reunite the country. Propelled by popular enthusiasm and savvy use of the growing regional news media, changes came quickly. In December 2019, Essex, Holland and Woodbridge agreed in principle to negotiations with other local states. In a speech in a packed stadium in Ely, Poll announced his grand plan: to unite the entire east into one Commonwealth of Great Britain, whose goal would be nothing less than the reunification of the entire island. To lead this new confederation would be neither a monarch nor an un-British republican figure. Instead, the states would choose a Lord Protector - a symbolic head and military commander who would lead by consent of the separate communities. Shocking as the Cromwellian title was, it came after a long period of talks with leaders and various trial balloons sent via the media.
The Commonwealth became a reality in early 2020, and it stirred fear in all parts of the British Isles. Did the east really intend to raise up a second Cromwell, and if so, did they mean to wage another Civil War? Southern England and Northumbria increased garrisons near their borders. "Pollist"-inspired unrest was swiftly put down. Even the royal household in South Africa made an exceedingly rare comment on British politics, issuing a statement warning the British people against repeating the mistakes of the past. But what the media were already calling the Great British Civil war never materialized in the end. The new Commonwealth had no intention of uniting the country by force.
The Commonwealth of Great Britain in its early years failed to attract any members outside its own eastern region. The Southern English and the Scots rejected it outright. But Poll continued to reign supreme as the Commonwealth's key man. Elements of OBN's task forces were combined with TBA units to create a new British Army, reporting to the Council and therefore to Poll himself. A Parliament formed, so the east finally had a combined legislature. Many continued to look fearfully at this unlikely strongman from Lincolnshire, but there was no denying that Poll's movement had helped the east to transcend many years of factionalism.
Britain and the World
It seemed newly urgent for Britain in the early 2020s to sort out its politics, because the islands were now engaging with the rest of the world much more than before.
Dublin now served as the metropolis and economic hub for the archipelago, taking this role from London after almost two thousand years. Much of the British Isles' trade with the world passed through Galway and Dublin. While governments of states in the former UK tried to develop their ports and fleets, firms often found it cheaper to ship through Ireland. A number of British companies and institutions moved to the city or were reestablished there. A notable example is the Reuters news agency. Another is the Royal Society, refounded in the 2010s to promote scientific research despite Ireland having no royals. Zara of Cleveland agreed to sponsor the society so that it could keep its traditional name. It was inconceivable that such organisations could exist in any other city: only Dublin had the resources and gathered brain power to support them.
Middlesborough, the largest city in the UK to survive Doomsday, served as an important secondary center especially for trade with the Nordic and Baltic nations. By the 2020s, Southern England was coming into its own as well as an economic and diplomatic power, but it lacked a single major city to serve as a hub. Instead Hastings, Worthing, Poole, Weymouth, Exmouth and others served as ports of middling importance. The federal republic's growing reputation for neutrality turned out to be good for business, and a growing portion of trade with France, Spain and the Mediterranean was starting to come to its ports rather than to Dublin. In Scotland, Dundee was coming into its own as both a port and industrial city after having been partly abandoned due to heavy fallout. In the 2000s it became the northern Scottish capital.
Another major shift was that Britain was now on the periphery of the world economy. It became a supplier of raw materials for the industrial sectors of other nations, especially Ireland, but also for more distant places that had been backwaters like Nigeria and Senegal. The world's leading economic powers were now Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and especially Brazil, and firms from these distant places opened offices in British ports.
The former United Kingdom in the 2020s was thus no closer to answering its two key Questions, but parts of the country certainly seemed to have settled them for themselves.
The Royal Question had shifted greatly, the north of England having declared dynastic independence under Zara and George and the Unionist half of Northern Ireland having joined them. But the new royals lacked strong support outside these regions. Even the African branch of the family was not completely down and out: King William continued to reign uninterrupted as Lord of Mann and could claim some supporters elsewhere, including among members of armed groups in the interior. Some small states, most notably Holland, still called themselves "Kingdoms" without committing to a ruler. Neither half of Scotland had yet rejected the monarchy outright.
Solutions to the still more important Union Question were just as elusive and contradictory. Many held out hope for a restored Britain, but very different visions of this had taken hold. The Celtic Alliance, United Kingdoms, and Commonwealth of Great Britain were animated by incompatible motivations, ideologies, and means, even if they all shared roughly the same end goal. The rise of the New Commonwealth movement showed that it was possible to transcend such differences, but the islands had a long way to go if they were ever to again be a nation.
Current states in the former UK
|Nation||Flag||Capital||Bloc or organisation||Population||Date of foundation|
|West Ulster||Derry||Celtic Alliance||1998|
|East Ulster||Newry||Celtic Alliance and United Kingdoms||1998|
Na h-Eileanan an Iar
Territory of the Severn
Kingdom of Northumbria
Duchy of Lancaster
Republic of Leicester
|Milton Keynes||Milton Keynes||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2000|
|Rutland||Oakham||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2013|
Democratic Republic of Trentside
|Scunthorpe||Commonwealth of Great Britain||1999|
Democratic Republic of Lindsey
|Lincoln||Commonwealth of Great Britain||1992|
Free Territory of the Parts of Kesteven
|Grantham||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2011|
Kingdom of the Parts of Holland
|Bourne||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2011|
|Mablethorpe||Mablethorpe||Commonwealth of Great Britain||1999|
Free City of Skegness
|Skegness||Commonwealth of Great Britain||1990|
|Ely, Isle of||Ely||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2012|
Kingdom of Norfolk
|Norwich?||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2018|
|Woodbridge||Commonwealth of Great Britain||1986|
Combined Communities of Essex,
Hertfordshire and London
|Chelmsford||Commonwealth of Great Britain||1991|
|Sheppey, Isle of
Chartered Company of Sheppey
|Minster||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2010|
Kingdom of Kent
|Canterbury||Commonwealth of Great Britain||2017|
|Scilly, Isles of||Hugh Town||Celtic Alliance||1994|
Federal Republic of Southern England
United Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey
|Saint Helier and Saint Peter's Port||Celtic Alliance and United Kingdoms||1994|
|Man, Isle of||Douglas||Celtic Alliance||979|