Keep Calm and Carry On

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Keep Calm and Carry On, Ministry of Information, 1939,

This message of British spirit that decorates tea towels and coffee mugs has a dark origin and could have signaled the demise of Britain. In 1939, the Ministry of Information, the wartime propaganda office of the British government, designed three posters to be issued in the event of war. Each featured the King’s crown along with a morale-boosting message: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution, Will Bring Us Victory,” “Freedom is in Peril; Defend it with all Your Might,” and “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

As war broke out in Britain, the first two posters appeared on billboards, buildings, and train stations throughout the country. The third poster with the message “Keep Calm and Carry On” was printed but reserved to be used if the war took a turn for the worse. Fortunately, events never warranted its release. The majority of the printed copies were destroyed. In 2000, a copy of the poster was re-discovered in a bookshop in Northumberland and reproduced. The tagline and image caught on and the now-famous words that were nearly lost took on a new life.

Keep Calm and Carry On