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The King's Speech

When Albert, Duke of York, asked Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon for her hand in marriage in 1922, she readily accepted. She was confident that her husband would never assume the throne.

Sailors from the Royal Navy perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London
Sailors from the Royal Navy perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London.

Albert, Duke of York, was second in line to the British throne and as he was suffering from a severe speech impediment, his wife thought he was considered unfit to become king. The film “The King’s Speech” shows how she was proved wrong.

Edward and Mrs. Simpson

In 1936, when the ritual phrase, "The King is Dead. Long Live the King!" was declared at George V's deathbed, Albert's elder brother, Edward, was expected to ascend the throne. However, he was deeply in love with an American divorcèe, Mrs. Wallis Simpson. As the King of England, he would also become the head of the Church of England, and a marriage between the two lovebirds would be out of the question. In the 1930s, their love affair was considered a great scandal and the British government was deeply concerned that it might threaten the monarchy. For others, it became the love story of the century when Edward decided to abdicate after spending a few months as the King of Great Britain, Ireland, the British Dominions beyond the Seas and Emperor of India.

Albert - Next in Line to the Throne

Colin Firth
Colin Firth

Elizabeth had never imagined her husband as king. Yet, after Edward's abdication, Albert, had to stand up and accept his responsibility. Since he had had a stammer from the age of four or five, he had cleverly avoided all public speaking in his adult life. In the movie, Colin Firth excels in his role as the reluctant king. First, Albert had to accept his transformation from a family man that could have a private life with his wife and two girls (one of them Elizabeth, the future queen), into King George VI and a life in the public eye. Furthermore, he had to face what he dreaded more than anything; to speak in public.

Royal Duties

In 1936, when Albert reluctantly had to ascend the British throne, Hitler was successfully capturing German hearts and minds as a great orator and propagandist. With the help of a highly unorthodox speech terapist, the Australian Lionel Logue , the newly appointed George VI barely passed the test as an orator in his inauguration speech. In 1939, there was a great deal at stake; Britain had declared war against Hitler and Germany and the occasion called for a speech to be broadcast in the media of the day, the radio. With the mental and practical help of his devoted therapist, the king delivered a flawless speech when it really mattered.

Discuss

How are stammering and self confidence intertwined?

Working with the Film

The King's Speech (film)

Work with tasks provided on this website: The King's Speech Lesson Plan

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UK History

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