The King’s Speech
The Duke of York stutters badly and goes to a speech therapist from Australia who helps him learn to speak better for his reign as King George VI during World War II.
In 1925 British King George V asked his second son, the Duke of York, to make a speech at the Empire Exhibition in Wembley Stadium in London. The duke, who will later become King George VI (Colin Firth), is given a two-minute warning, and Archbishop Cosmo Lang (Derek Jacobi) says he will be fine. The man introducing him says that 58 colonies and dominions have taken part. This is the first speech the duke has given on wireless radio. George walks up the stairs to the microphone. He sees the red light flashing, pauses, and then begins to introduce the address he has received from the King. He stutters and pauses often.
In 1934 at 145 Piccadilly in London. An old man is coaching George to inhale cigarette smoke deep into his lungs. He counts out several glass marbles he has sterilized and instructs George to put them in his mouth. Sitting nearby with a book open, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) asks the value of these, and the old man says they helped cure Demosthenes. He hands George a book to read aloud. George’s mouth is so full that he can only mumble while the old man tells him to enunciate. George spits them out and says he nearly swallowed them. He angrily gets up and leaves the room. Elizabeth thanks the doctor and shakes his hand.
In another room George tells her that he can insert his own marbles. She tells Bertie, as she calls him, that he can’t keep doing this; but he asks her to promise him no more of it.
In the London fog a man walks in front of the car which has Elizabeth in the back seat.
Elizabeth figures out how to close an elevator and goes up. She enters a room and asks if anyone is there. Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) comes out of the commode and calls her “Mrs. Johnson.” They shake hands, and he tells her she is late. He asks where Mr. Johnson is, and she says her husband has given up hope. He says he hasn’t seen him. He believes he can help anyone who wants to be cured. She says of course he wants to be cured. She says her husband is required to speak publicly, and he suggests he could change jobs; but she says that is not possible. He asks if it is indentured servitude, and she says it is something like that. He asks her to have her husband pop by and says Tuesday would be good. He can give his personal details; he will make an appraisal, and they can go from there. She says they do not talk about their private lives, and he must come to them. Lionel says it is his game on his turf with his rules. She can talk to her husband and then call him on the telephone. He thanks her for coming by and walks away. She asks what if her husband were the Duke of York. He comes back and says he thought the name was Johnson, and he asks her “royal highness” to forgive him. She says they used the name Johnson to confuse the enemy during the war. He asks if he is the enemy. She says he will be if he continues to be unobliging. She says there is a need for complete discretion. He agrees and asks how she found him. She says the president of the Society for Speech Therapists. He says that is Eileen McLeod, and she is a sport. She warned him that his methods are unorthodox and controversial, and she says those are not her favorite words. He says he can cure her husband, but for his methods to work he needs trust and total equality in the safety of his consultation room. She shakes his hand and asks when he could start.
At home Lionel tells his wife Myrtle Logue (Jennifer Ehle) and three sons that he had a special consultation today, but he can’t talk about it. Two sons leave the table, and he tells the third to help them with the washing up. She asks why he can’t talk about it, and he says it is just a woman trying to help her husband. He says he got a call for an audition today, and she says he will do well because he is well regarded on the amateur scene.
George is formally dressed and finds his two daughters on the floor by a fire hearing a story from a woman with a book. He says they are lucky to fly away. One girl asks him to tell them a story; but he asks if he could be a penguin instead and toddles on his knees. She asks for a penguin story. He sits on a chair and says once there were two princesses named Elizabeth and Margaret, and their father was a penguin which a wicked witch had turned him into. This was inconvenient because he loved to hold them in his arms; but a penguin cannot do that because he has wings like herrings. Even worse, she sent him to the South pole which is a very long walk back if you can’t fly. When he gets to the water, he dives in so fast that he was in Southampton by lunchtime. Then he took the 2:30 to Weybridge, changed to Clapham Junction, asked a passing Mallard the way to Buckingham Palace, and swam up the Thames. He came out through the plughole and gave the cook, Mam, and Mrs. Whittaker a shock. The children heard this and went to the kitchen and gave him a good scrub, a mackerel, and a kiss. He asks them what he turned into, and little Elizabeth says a handsome prince; but he says a short-tailed albatross with big wings that he wrapped around his two girls together. As he says this he moves forward and puts his arms around them. Their mother says it is time for bed now, and he tells them to take their horses to the stable and feed and brush them.
As they walk in a hall Elizabeth asks George if Mrs. Simpson will be there, and he says his brother is insisting. She asks if he is serious about her. He says she is married, and so he can’t be. She says that she can. As they go down stairs, she says she found an interesting doctor on Harley Street; but he says it is out of the question because the matter is settled. She says his approach is quite different.
On a stage alone Lionel asks three people in the audience if he should start now, and he is given permission. He twists his left arm and begins to play Richard III at the beginning of the play. A man raises his arms and thanks him for his lovely diction; but he says he did not hear the cries of a deformed creature yearning to be king, and he did not think he was king of the colonies. Lionel says he knows all the lines because he played the part in Perth. He says he was well reviewed. The man says their dramatic society would prefer someone younger and more regal.
Elizabeth shows George how to close the door of the elevator, and he asks her where she found this physician. She says he is highly recommended and charges substantial fees, but she says he may be a Bolshevik. They enter the room, and she says he has no receptionist. She says the Johnsons are there. A boy comes in and says Mr. Johnson may go in, and Mrs. Johnson may wait there. The boy stutters as he says she could take a stroll. Then he asks Lionel if that was all right. Lionel is in another room combing his hair, and he comes in and tells Willie that was marvelous. He can stay there and wait for his Mum. He invites Mr. Johnson into the other room, and he closes the door.
Lionel tells George that Willie could hardly make a sound when he first came to him. George looks around, and Lionel tells him to make himself comfortable. George sits on a couch, and Lionel pulls up a wooden chair but keeps it about five feet away because he was told not to sit too close. He says that in speaking to a prince one waits for the prince to choose the topic. George stutters as he says that waiting for him to do that can be a long wait. Lionel asks if he knows any jokes, and George says that timing is not his strong suit. Lionel chuckles and offers him a cup of tea. George says no, but Lionel gets up to get one for himself. George asks if he is going to start treating him, and Lionel says only if he wants to be treated. Lionel asks him to call him “Lionel,” but George says he prefers to call him “Doctor.” Lionel asks how he is to address him, and George says “Royal Highness” and after that “Sir.” Lionel says he prefers names, and George says he is Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George. Lionel asks if he can call him “Bertie,” but he says only his family uses that. Lionel says that is perfect because here it is better if they are equals. George says that if they were equals, he would not be there; he would be home with his wife, and no one would care. He puts a cigarette in his mouth, and Lionel tells him not to do that. He believes that sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you. George says that his physicians believe that it relaxes the throat. Lionel says they are idiots, and George says they have all been knighted. Lionel says that makes it official. Lionel says this is his castle and his rules. He puts away the cigarette.
Lionel asks his earliest memory, and George says he is not there to discuss personal matters. Lionel asks why he is there, and George shouts that it is because he stammers. Lionel says he has a temper, and George admits it is one of his many faults. Lionel asks when the defect began, and George says he was always that way. Lionel doubts that, and George angrily tells him not to say that because it is his stammer. Lionel assures him that no infant begins speaking with a stammer, and he asks when his started. George says he was four or five, and Lionel says that is typical. He says he can’t remember not doing it, and Lionel believes that. Lionel asks if he hesitates when he thinks or when he talks to himself. George tells him to stop calling him “Bertie,” and Lionel says he won’t. George says then they won’t speak. Lionel gets up and whistles as he puts tea to brew. George asks how much he is charging for this, and Lionel says a fortune. He sits down and gets George to admit that he does not stammer when he talks to himself. Lionel says that proves the impediment is not permanent. He asks George what he thinks the cause is. George says he stammers and that no one can fix it. Lionel stands up and says he will bet him that he can read flawlessly right now. If he wins the bet, he gets to ask more questions. George asks what if he wins, and Lionel says then he does not have to answer. George says one usually bets money. Lionel suggests a bob each and asks to see his money. George says he does not carry money. Lionel says he will stake him, and he can pay him back next time. George says there may not be a next time, and Lionel says he has not agreed to take him on yet. Lionel opens a book and hands it to him, showing him where to read. George says he can’t read it, and Lionel says then he owes him a shilling for not trying. George starts reading, “To be or not to be” and stutters and stops. Lionel says he has not finished yet. Lionel says he is going to record his voice and then play it back to him on a machine from America. He asks George to put on the earphones. When he does he hears symphonic music playing loudly. George asks how he can hear what he is saying. Lionel says that surely a prince’s brain can hear what his mouth is saying. George says he is not well acquainted with royal princes. During the music George speaks into the microphone, and after a while he takes off the earphones and says it is hopeless. Lionel says he was sublime and asks if he would lie for twelve pennies. George says he has no idea what an Australian would do for money. Lionel asks if he can play it back for him. George says no, and Lionel says then he gets to ask the questions. George thanks him but says he does not think this is for him. He thanks him for his time, shakes his hand, and says goodbye. As he is walking away, Lionel gives him the recording, and George goes out.
King George V (Michael Gambon) is giving the Christmas broadcast of 1934 at Sandringham House in Norfolk. He hopes they will regain prosperity during this depression without self-seeking. He wishes everyone a happy Christmas. George is there and says nothing. The King talks about using a microphone. The King asks Prince George to read something, and he says he can’t do it. The King says the radio has changed everything for a king. He says they must go into people’s homes and be actors, the basest of creatures. George says they are not a family but a firm. The King says at any moment some of us may be out of work. The King says that his older brother is only interested in a wife of another. George says he has broken that off with Lady Furness, but the King says he has taken up with Mrs. Simpson. The King says he told him that no divorced person can ever be received at court, and Edward said that made him sublimely happy. The King suspects that is because she was sleeping with him. The King says he lied to him when he said they never had immoral relations. The King asks what will happen when he dies. He asks who will pick up the pieces with Hitler taking over half of Europe, and Marshal Stalin dominating the other half. He asks who will stand between them and the jackboots and the proletarian abyss and asks George if it is he. The King says that because his older brother is shirking his duties, he will have to do much more of this. He tells George to have a go. George stutters as he tries to read the speech, and his father keeps interrupting to coach him.
George is lying on a couch listening to music on the gramophone. He gets up and puts on another record. He hears the conversation with Lionel that was recorded. Then he hears his own voice reading the speech by Hamlet without any stutter at all. Standing behind him is Elizabeth listening.
On Lionel’s couch George says he wants it to be strictly business with nothing personal, and Elizabeth says she thought she had made that clear. Lionel asks for the shilling he owes, and George does not have it and says he tricked him. Lionel says that physical exercises and tricks are important. He says what they are asking only deals with the surface of the problem. Elizabeth says that is sufficient for her. She says her husband has mechanical difficulties with his speech and asks that they just deal with that. George tells Dr. Logue that he is willing to work hard, and he asks if he is willing to do his part. Lionel says he will give them mechanics and tells him to relax his jaw muscles and strengthen his tongue by repeating tongue-twisters. He gives him an example of one, and George says fine. Lionel says he has a flabby tummy and will have to spend time strengthening his diaphragm. He says that is about a shilling’s worth, and without stuttering George shouts, “Forget about the blasted shilling!” George goes back to speaking softly and stuttering as he asks if he could help him with some minor events. Lionel says of course. George asks if he should see him next week, and Lionel says he will see him every day.
George and Lionel are doing exercises together to help him relax. George lies on his back, and Lionel has him fill his lungs.
George is making a speech he is reading from a paper in a manufacturing district.
Elizabeth is sitting on George’s stomach and asks if he is all right. He says he is, and she says it is great fun. George and Lionel swing their arms. Lionel stops him from smoking and says he has a short memory. He has George shout vowels out an open window. George does a tongue-twister. He holds a note for a long time. He repeats the word “Father.”
A biplane lands on a field, and George walks over to greet the pilot David later to be Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) as he gets out of the plane. They both say they have been busy. George says that Elizabeth has pneumonia, and David says she will recover; but George says that father won’t. In the car David is driving the car and says he is doing it on purpose, and George asks if he means dying. George says he has been ill for a long time. David says that he is doing it to complicate matters with Wallis who explained he is clever about these things.
In a room King George V is sitting as a man reads his declaration that there should be a guardian of the realm. George and others are standing by. The King says he does not understand, and the man reading it says that this is so that they can act on his behalf. The man concludes that it is approved, and he helps the King sign his name to the document. A nurse asks the King if he is feeling better, and he says no. He asks about ice skating.
George comes into a room where David is talking on the telephone to Wallis Simpson and tries to interrupt him. David says to wait and soon hangs up. George relays that their mother said he was late for dinner. David says she forgets that their father has all the clocks a half hour fast. He goes to a clock and turns it back a half hour.
David and George come into the dining room where others are seated at the table. David asks about the King and is told he is quieter now. Queen Mary (Claire Bloom) says if their father were there, tardiness would not be tolerated. Archbishop Cosmo Lang tells David that he realizes that he is different from his father in outlook and temperament, and he says he tried to present David’s conduct in its most favorite light to the King. David says he trusts him. Queen Mary gets up and says she believes their vigil will not last long, and she tells them to continue.
George V has died, and the archbishop prays over his body. Queen Mary kisses the hand of Edward VIII and says, “Long live the King.” George kisses his hand. Edward says he hopes he will make good. He cries on his mother’s shoulder and then leaves the room. George goes after him and asks him what that was. Edward says it was Wallis; now he is trapped. He runs up the stairs.
A speech about the reign of George V is heard on the radio as Lionel is typing and talking with his sons. Lionel turns off the radio and tells his sons to put on their thinking caps. Lionel recites lines from Shakespeare, and his sons identify them. They hear a knock, and he tells the boys to go. He opens the door and sees Bertie. He says he is sorry about his father and invites him to come in. George says he has been practicing an hour a day in spite of everything. Lionel asks if he feels like working. Lionel offers him tea, but George asks for something stronger. Lionel pours two drinks and offers a toast to his father’s memory. George says his father’s last words were “Bertie has more guts than the rest of his brothers put together.” He did not say it to his face. He mentions his brother, and Lionel asks about him and suggests that he try singing. He asks what songs he knows. George says “Swanee River” but refuses to sing it. Lionel tries to get him to sing about his brother David by offering to let him complete his son’s model airplane. Lionel suggests “Campton Races.” Lionel asks if it feels strange now that David is on the throne. George says it is a relief knowing he would not be king. Lionel says he is next in line unless he produces an heir, and his daughter Elizabeth would succeed him. George begins singing that he is barking at the wrong tree now. Lionel notes that he didn’t stammer, and George says it was because he was singing. Lionel says he can work on the airplane now. George says that he and David were very close. Lionel asks about girls, and George says that David was good at making introductions. They were helped by Paulette in Paris but not at the same time. Lionel asks if David ever teased him, and George says he constantly did so with his father who encouraged him. His father said he was afraid of his father and that his children were going to be afraid of him. Lionel asks if he is naturally right-handed. George says he used his left hand at first, but he was punished and learned to use his right. Lionel says that is very common with stammerers. Lionel asks if there were other corrections, and he says knock-knees. George says they made him wear metal splints day and night. Lionel says that must have been painful. George says it was agony, but he has straight legs now. Lionel asks with whom he was closest in his family. George says his nannies, but not the first one who loved David and hated him. He says when they were presented to the parents, she would pinch him so that he would be given right back to her. Then she would sing and not feed him. He says his parents did not notice for three years, and he had stomach problems. Lionel asks about his brother Johnny. George says he was a sweet boy, but he had epilepsy and was different. He died when he was thirteen after having been hidden. He says it is not catching. Lionel offers him another drink and gets it. George says he is the first ordinary Englishman he ever spoke to. Lionel says he is Australian. George says he sees common people in the streets, but he knows so little about them or they about him. Lionel asks what friends are for, and George says he would not know.
In the back of a car riding on a snowy day Elizabeth tells George not to practice the tongue-twister. He says he has to keep doing it. He says they have to be nice to Mrs. Simpson. Elizabeth says Mrs. Simpson calls her the fat Scottish cook. George says she is not fat, and she says she is getting plump. He kisses her, and she tries to stuff food into his mouth.
George and Elizabeth arrive at the party, and Wallis Simpson (Eve Best) welcomes them. Elizabeth says she was invited by the King, and she walks past her to greet Edward who kisses her cheek. George shakes hands with Wallis and says it is nice to see her. He talks to David about the garden. Elizabeth tells Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) that they said she behaved badly; but he says that etiquette requires that royalty should be greeted by the host, the King, not a commoner. She thanks him. He asks how she holds him, and she says she has skills she picked up in Shanghai. Wallis asks David to get her another drink, and he excuses himself from George who follows him into the wine cellar. George says he has been trying to see him, and Edward says he has been busy “kinging.” George says that is a precarious business these days and asks where the Russian Czar is and their cousin Wilhelm. He criticizes him for laying off 80 staff and buying more pearls for Wallis while people are marching in Europe. Edward says that Hitler will sort them out, and George asks who will sort out Hitler. Edward is looking for 1923 wine. George angrily complains that he put that woman in their mother’s suite. Edward jokes that mother is not still in the bed, and George says it is not funny. Edward says that he and Wallis intend to marry. George is surprised, and Edward says she is filing for divorce. George suggests he give her a nice house and a title, and Edward says he is not having her as his mistress. George says the Church does not recognize divorce, and he is the head of the Church. Edward asks if he has any rights, and George says he has many privileges. Edward says that is it is not the same thing. He asks if a commoner may marry for love, why not he. George says if he were a commoner, he could not be king. Edward says that George has studied their constitution, and George says that Edward hasn’t. Edward says that is why he is brushing up with elocution lessons. George tries to say what he is trying to do, but he stutters and cannot get it out. Edward makes fun of him by imitating his stutter. George cannot speak, and Edward says the younger brother is trying to push the older brother off the throne and calls it medieval. Edward takes the wine to Wallis and asks who she has been talking to. She says he is a complicated little king, and he says he tries to be.
On the couch George tells Lionel that the work is down the drain because he could not say a single word to his brother in reply. Lionel asks why he stammers with his brother but not with him. George is angry, and Lionel notices that he doesn’t stutter when he swears. He asks him to swear more, and George says dirty words. Lionel says he does not hesitate at all. Lionel says he does not get to see that side of him very often. He suggests they get some air.
George and Lionel are walking in a park, and George says that his brother is determined to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson of Baltimore. Lionel asks if he can do it. George says absolutely not, but he is going to anyway. All hell is breaking loose. Lionel asks if they could just carry on privately, and George wishes they would. Lionel asks where it leaves him. George says he knows his place, and he would do anything he could to keep his brother on the throne. Lionel asks if it is serious; his place may be on the throne. George says he is not an alternative to his brother. Lionel put his hand on his shoulder and says he could outshine his brother. George stops and angrily tells him not to take liberties; that is bordering on treason. Lionel says he could be king; he could do it. George says that is treason. Lionel is trying to get him to realize that he does not need to be governed by fear. George says he has had enough and walks back the other way. Lionel asks what he is afraid of, and George says his poisonous words. Lionel asks why he came to him. He says he is not a middle-class banker who wants elocution lessons so he can chit-chat. George tells him not to instruct him on his duties. He says he is the son of a king and the brother of a king. He puts down Lionel as the son of a brewer from the outback. He says he is nobody, and the sessions are over. He lights a cigarette as he walks on, and Lionel stops walking with him.
George gets out of a car and goes into 10 Downing Street. Inside he talks with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (Anthony Andrews) who explains that it is because she is a twice-divorced American. The King as head of the Church of England cannot marry a divorced woman. He adds that according to Scotland Yard the King has not always had the exclusive use of her favors and affections. She shared them with a married used-car salesman. It is also rumored that Hitler’s commander von Ribbentrop sends her 17 carnations every day. He says that if Edward continues to ignore the advice of his government, he must abdicate. George asks if he would leave the country without a government. The Prime Minister asks if the King does what he wants or what the people expect him to do.
In their home Myrtle asks Lionel what is wrong, and he says he is having trouble with a patient. She asks why, and he says he is scared and afraid of his own shadow. She asks if that is why they come to him. He says this fellow could be someone great, but he is fighting him. She says he may not want to be great; that is what Lionel wants. He admits he might have overstepped, and she advises him to apologize.
Lionel is sitting by a fireplace. A man comes out and tells him that the duke is busy. Lionel says he could wait, and the man repeats himself. A butler opens the door, and Lionel goes out.
George is sitting at his desk, and Churchill tells him that Parliament will not support the marriage. He says they are also concerned that he was careless with state papers and lacked commitment and resolve. Others worry about where he will stand if war comes with Germany. George says they are not coming to that. Churchill says they are although Prime Minister Baldwin may deny it. Hitler’s intent is crystal clear, and war will come. They will need a king they can all stand behind united. George says his brother is not of sound mind at this time. Churchill asks him what he would call himself. Churchill says Albert is too Germanic. George stutters, and Churchill suggests George the Sixth for continuity.
George tells Edward he looks exhausted and asks how he is bearing up. Edward says the decision has been made and that he is going. George says he can’t accept that. Edward says there is no other way because he must marry her. His mind is made up, and he says he is sorry. George says that is a terrible thing to hear. He says nobody wants that especially him.
Sitting at a table Edward VIII formally signs his abdication on December 10, 1936 while his speech on the radio is heard. He gets up from the table, and George sits in the same chair and signs a paper. Edward is completing his speech how he could not discharge his duty as king without the help and support of the woman he loves.
At home George and Elizabeth are listening as Edward says that he believes his brother is well qualified by his training in public affairs to take his place.
George in a fancy uniform is pacing in the throne room and walks into a much larger room where men have gathered behind a table. He is handed a paper and reads his speech to them with pauses as he struggles with the words.
Elizabeth and the two girls are in the palace, and his daughters curtsy to George who kisses each of them. Elizabeth asks how it was.
George is working at his desk, and Elizabeth comes in. He says he is trying to familiarize himself with state papers. He does not understand a dispatch from Prime Minister Baldwin at all. There are David’s finances, and he does not think a Christmas broadcast would be a good idea. She tells him not to worry about it. He looks at the plans for the coronation and says that may be even a bigger mistake. He starts to cry, and she comforts him. He says he is a naval officer, and that is all he knows. He says he is not a king. He says he is sorry, and she calls him a dear man. She is kneeling next to him and says that she refused his first two marriage proposals, not because she did not love him, but because she could not bear to enter a life of public duty. She thought he stammers so beautifully that they would leave them alone. He continues to cry.
Lionel answers the door and sees George and Elizabeth. George says that waiting for a king’s apology can take a long time. Elizabeth says they are late as they come in to his dining-room. She sits at the table and says she will help herself to the tea.
George and Lionel sit by the fire, and George puts his shilling on a table. George says he understands what Logue was trying to say, and Lionel admits he went about it the wrong way and apologizes. George asks if the nation is ready for two minutes of radio silence. Lionel says that every stammerer fears going back to square one, and he will not let that happen. George says if he failed in his duty, David could come back; he has seen the placards. He says that usually a king follows someone who is dead or nearly dead, but his predecessor is very much alive. He could not even give them a Christmas speech like his father did. Lionel says he is not here anymore, but George says he is on that shilling he gave him. Lionel says he does not need to carry him in his pocket nor his brother nor should he be afraid of things when he was five. He says he is his own man. Lionel hears his wife and stands up.
Myrtle comes in, and Elizabeth tells her it is “your royal highness” the first time and then ma’am.
Lionel tells George that he had not told his wife anything about them. Myrtle says she can call her “Mrs. Logue.”
Lionel and George are hiding behind the wall, and George says they can’t stay there all day. Lionel says he has to wait for the right moment, and George says he is being a coward. Lionel agrees. George opens the door and tells him to get out there now. Lionel kisses his wife and introduces her to King George VI who says he is glad to meet her. She invites them to dinner, but Elizabeth says they have a previous engagement.
George and Lionel come into the church that is being prepared for the ceremony. The archbishop is introduced to the speech therapist Lionel and says he could have made his own recommendation. George says that Mr. Logue will be attending the coronation. The archbishop says he will speak to the dean, but it will be very difficult. George says he wants him seated in the King’s box with his family. Lionel tells the archbishop they need the church to prepare, and the archbishop objects. Lionel says their preparations are equally important, and they want complete privacy. George says those are his wishes. The archbishop says he will place Westminster Abbey at the their disposal in the evening.
Later Lionel arrives in the church and tells George to get started. George says he is not there to rehearse. He says he called him doctor, but he has no training, no diploma, and no qualifications, but much nerve. Lionel asks if this is the star chamber inquisition. George says he asked for trust and equality. Lionel says he heard him at Wembley, and his son asked him if he could help that poor man. George asks as what, a failed actor. Lionel admits he is not a doctor, and he did some acting and taught elocution. During the Great War their soldiers came back from the front, and many of them were shell-shocked and unable to speak. People told him he is good at this speech stuff, and they asked him to help them. He says he did muscle therapy and relaxation exercises, but he knew he had to go deeper. His job was to give them faith in their own voice and let them know that a friend was listening. He says that will ring a few bells with him. George says he gives a noble account of himself. Lionel urges him to make inquiries, and George says inquiries are being made; he has no idea who he has looking after him. He says he vouched for him, and he has no credentials. Lionel says he has had success. There was no training then, but that war was experience. He never put letters after his name nor called himself doctor. Lionel kneels and says he could lock him in the tower. George says he would if he could, and Lionel asks on what charge. George says fraud. He says that with war coming he has saddled the nation with a voiceless king, destroying his family in order to snare a star patient he could not hope to help. He fears he will be like Mad King George III; he will be Mad King George the Stammerer who let his people down in their hour of need.
George turns around and sees Lionel sitting on an old throne. He shouts that he can’t sit there and to get out. Lionel says it is a chair, but George says it is Saint Edward’s chair. Lionel says people carved their names on it. George explains that every king sat there. Lionel says it is supported by a large rock, and George says that is the Stone of Scone. Lionel says he does not care how many royal assholes have sat there. George tells him to listen to him, and Lionel asks by what right. George says he is his king, but Lionel says he told him he didn’t want it. George says he has a right and a voice. Lionel affirms that he does, and he stands up. Lionel says he has such perseverance that he is the bravest person he knows, and he will make a good king. The archbishop comes over and asks what is going on. George says it is all right. The archbishop tells Lionel that he can replace him with a speech therapist of impeccable credentials, and therefore his services are no longer required. The archbishop tells George that his job is to consult and be advised. He says he did not consult, and he has just been advised. George advises him that in this personal matter he will make his own decision. The archbishop says he is concerned about the head upon which he is to place the crown, and George says it is his head. The archbishop says he is a humble servant and walks away.
Lionel thanks George and asks if he wants to rehearse. He tells him to get on his perch. George sits on the throne, and Lionel begins to review what he is to do. Lionel reads the lines of the archbishop, and George answers his questions. Lionel goes in the back to see if he can hear him, and George learns to project his voice. George knows his lines. Lionel says then he only has to sign the oath, and he is King.
George with his family and the archbishop are watching a film of the coronation. The archbishop hopes they are thrilled with the result and tells them to stop the machine. Elizabeth says to keep going, and they watch the newsreel go on about German troops marching and showing Hitler speaking. Elizabeth asks her father what he is saying. George says he does not know, but he seems to be saying it well.
Prime Minister Baldwin is meeting with George and tells him he is resigning. George says he is sorry to hear that. Baldwin says that Neville Chamberlain will take his place. Baldwin admits he made a mistake, and he says there is no one in the world so lacking in moral feeling as Hitler. He says the world may be hurled for a second time into the abyss of destructive war; Churchill was right about Hitler’s intention. He is sorry to leave George at this time of great crisis. He says his greatest test is yet to come.
Lionel and his family at home are listening to the radio as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Roger Parrott) speaks from 10 Downing Street saying that unless the German troops are withdrawn from Poland, a state of war will exist with Germany.
George is sitting at his desk with a naval officer standing by him when a man comes in and hands him his speech of nine minutes. He says the Prime Minister will be joining him for the broadcast which will go out to the armed forces around the world. George tells the officer to get Logue immediately, and he reads the speech.
Lionel is riding in the back of a car during an air raid and tells them to go straight there. At a gate he shows his papers. In a garage Lionel gets out of the car. A man hands him the King’s speech and says they have forty minutes until the broadcast.
In the palace George is practicing the speech, and Lionel coaches him. George asks why he is the seat of authority, and he says it is because when he speaks the people think that he speaks for the nation; but he can’t speak. Lionel tells him to take it from the top. George takes a deep breath and adds dirty words. George puts in songs as well as swear words. Lionel gets him moving, and he dances around. Elizabeth comes in, and George says he can’t do it. She says it is time.
George and Elizabeth come into a room, and he shakes hands with the archbishop, Prime Minister Chamberlain, and Churchill who says he is often tongue-tied. Lionel is there too and tells him he has three minutes before the speech. George and Lionel enter a room with many curtains, and George says he redecorated. Lionel says he made it cozy. George stands at a lectern and looks at his speech. Lionel tells him forty seconds, and George thanks him for what he has done. Lionel asks for knighthood and tells him twenty seconds. Lionel tells him to forget everything else and just say it to him as a friend. Lionel points to him, and George pauses for a few seconds. Then he begins the speech, “In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history I send to every household of my, the peoples both at home and overseas this message.” He speaks slowly but clearly and says they are at war again after trying to find a peaceful way out. They have been forced into a conflict over a principle which if it failed would be fatal to any civilized order in the world. The cannot refuse to meet the challenge. He calls his people to this purpose and to make this cause their own. He asks them to stand calm and united in this time of trial. There may be dark days ahead, and war will not be confined to the battlefield. They can only do the right as they see the right and reverently commit their cause to God. With God’s help they shall prevail. Lionel tells him it was very good. George puts on his coat. Lionel says he still stammered on the W, and George says he had to throw in a few so that they would know it was him.
George walks through the palace as people applaud him. He sits at his desk, and Lionel congratulates him on his first war-time speech. George suspects he will have to do many more, and he thanks his friend. George goes to Elizabeth who says she knew he would be good. She thanks Lionel. Churchill tells George he could not have said it better himself, and the archbishop says he is speechless. George picks up Elizabeth and Margaret. He asks if they are ready, and his family goes out on a balcony to wave to the crowd.
This biographical drama accurately portrays the family of a prince who suffered a difficult childhood that left him with a bad stutter. He admits he does not know any common people, but the Australian speech therapist becomes a good friend to him and helps him gain the skill and confidence he needs to be the spokesperson for a great nation during a historic and challenging war.