// BOOKSACTUALLY RECOMMENDS //
The King’s Speech
by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
Based on the recently discovered diaries of Lionel Logue, The King’s Speech recounts an inspiring real-life tale of triumph over adversity, when an Australian taught a British king with a crippling speech defect how to speak to his subjects.
“Albert Frederick Arthur George, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and the last Emperor of India, woke suddenly. It was just after 3am. His bedroom in Buckingham Palace was normally a haven of piece and quiet, but this morning his slumbers had been interrupted by the crackle of loudspeakers being tested on Constitution Hill. ‘It was so loud one of them might have been in our room,’ he wrote in his diary. And then, just when he was finally dropping back off to sleep, the marching bands started.
It was May 12, 1937, and the 41-year-old King George VI, father of the present Queen, was preparing for one of the most nerve-racking days of his life. He had acceded to the throne five months earlier after his elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American, plunging the monarchy into one of the worst crises in its history. Today, the reluctant monarch was to be crowned in Westminster Abbey.
The coronation, a piece of national pageantry unmatched anywhere in the world, would have been daunting enough for anyone, but King George – known to the royal family as Bertie – had good reason to be anxious: he suffered from a chronic stammer that turned the simplest of conversations into a challenge and a public speech into a terrifying ordeal. Words beginning with the letter ‘k’ – as in king – proved a particular problem: confronted with one, he would struggle to make any sound at all, leaving an awkward silence.
Despite the King’s misgivings, the coronation, followed by a live radio broadcast that evening heard by tens of millions of people across the Empire, proved a resounding success. He barely stumbled over his words. ‘The King’s voice last night was strong and deep, resembling to a startling degree the voice of his father,’ reported The Star. ‘His words came through firmly, clearly – and without hesitation.’”