The Origin of “Keep Calm And…”

Over lunch last week whilst discussing summer break and carnival plans one of my lunch pals randomly blurted: “Did you know that the Keep Calm phrase has been around since World War II?”

Everyone stopped talking and in unison looked at him and asked “What?”  (All thinking what does that have to do with our carnival plans.)

“Yeah it was a motivational poster intended to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.  If you don’t believe me Google it and see for yourselves.”

Everyone nodded or responded with “oh I see” and “oh I’ll look it up” and our conversation returned to carnival Monday and Tuesday plans.  On the drive home though I kept thinking “nah he’s wrong couldn’t have been WWII it can’t be older than my son who was born in 2004 and around the time I began seeing all the “Keep Calm…” signs.  So I pulled over and Googled it…yes it has been around since 1939.

The British Ministry of Information in 1939 design a number of morale boosting posters to be displayed across the British Isles during the testing times that laid ahead.  The posters were designed with a bold coloured background with the Crown of King George VI.  The first of the posters were ‘Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ which were posted in shop windows, notice boards and public transit.  The “Keep Calm and Carry On” was the third and final poster designed and the plan was to issue this poster only upon the invasion of Britain by Germany.  This never happened and the poster never officially seen by the public.  The posters were thought to have been destroyed but copies were later found through auctions and antique shows.

This quintessential phrase is so popular and many still find it very relevant, appealing and reassuring and it seen every where from sports to travel.

Known for our calm and relaxing ambiance we’ve got quite a few “Keep Calm” posters too:

keepcalmvacay

keepcalmenjoyview

keepcalmbreakfastkeepcalmitishappyhourbayhouse

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