They were “the heir and the spare.” Bertie’s brother was the Prince of Wales, destined to be king. Bertie was the Duke of York.
Their father died and the Prince of Wales became King Edward VIII. But he fell in love with an American divorcee and he could not marry her and keep the crown. He became the first British king in history to abdicate the throne. He made the announcement over the radio, telling his subjects that he could not serve “as I would have wished” without the support of “the woman I love.”
And that is how Bertie, his younger brother, who had hoped to live a relatively quiet life, became King George VI in 1936. He knew that the United Kingdom needed to hear his voice, to reassure them that despite the abdication and the threat of war, they had a leader they could depend on. But King George had a bad stuttering problem and none of the experts of his time had been able to help. His work with an unconventional speech therapist is the subject of the acclaimed new film, “The King’s Speech.”
Here is audio of the real speech portrayed in the film, delivered on the radio in 1939.
And here King George VI says goodbye at the airport to his daughter, the current Queen Elizabeth, just a week before his death in 1952.
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