Damien on… “The King’s Speech”
I mean the ACTUAL King’s speech. HM King George VI (I have not seen the movie yet).
Poor old George – he never expected to BE king. A sickly youth, he had been happy to languish in the shadow of his older, more virile brother, Edward.
But when George V died and Edward became King Edward VIII, it was not to last.
The official reason for Edward’s abdication after less than a year on the throne was his love for Wallis Simpson – a haughty American woman who had been once-divorced and was still married (but not for long) to her second husband.
This was NOT ON. Queens of England are supposed (in theory) to be VIRGINS when they marry the King. At a pinch, an exception may be made in the case of a WIDOW – but Wally’s two husbands were still very much alive.
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin made such a fuss that if Edward HAD married Wally and become King – the government would have had to resign. A Constitutional Crisis, then.
But there is reason to think that there was more going on even than this. Fact was, Edward (and indeed, the whole British royal family) had German roots and were SERIOUSLY right-wing.
Thus Edward had come out strongly against war with Germany – and had a number of ties to that country. This did not sit well with the British government, who were gearing up for another jolly war with the Huns – and may well have had more to do with the pressure put upon Edward to abdicate, than his involvement with Wally Simpson.
Either way, Edward DID quit, leaving his kid brother George in charge of The Firm.
And within three years, George found himself sitting at a BBC mic, expected to declare WAR on Germany. Enter the issue of the “stammer”…
The thing was, over on the other side of The Pond, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a far more serious shortcoming. He was virtually wheelchair-bound. But the West Wing managed to CONCEAL the fact from the American public, by having him stand, supported – or sit down, during all his public appearances.
But no-one considered doing anything to conceal George’s speech impediment – which despite being classed as a stammer (which would have been bad enough) was more of a nature that made him sound permanently DRUNK.
Of course, today it would be possible to “clean up” his speech using digital technology. But in 1939, there wasn’t even recording tape.
Well actually, that is not quite true. The GERMANS had recording tape. The technology was begun in 1928 and development continued through the Thirties. Hitler used it.
But despite his German roots, George could hardly have asked BASF to supply him with some tapes – to enable the boffins to clean up his DECLARATION OF WAR against them.
And at that time, the alternatives were few. Magnetic WIRE was available – but it was impractical to edit. Likewise disc recorders.
In fact, the only practical method would have been for George to have FILMED all of his appearances, making his speeches in a chair, with his head supported from behind to prevent movement – then a good editor could have lopped out a few frames here and there, to disguise most of his vocal aberrations.
Or they could have used a voice double – Churchill did, many times, but only when he was too busy to give radio speeches in person.
However, George was the KING – and in those days, you didn’t screw around with him.
Ironically, recording tape DID finally emerge Worldwide, around 1950 – but George was nearly finished by then anyway. He died a year later, aged just 56.
Elizabeth II took over The Firm and is still there today. And if she lives as long as her Mum, she is likely to remain for another twenty years – by which time, the Windsor Wingnut will be over 80 and may well pass the reins straight to William.
But that’s another story. Meanwhile, if you would like to HEAR George VI declaring war on the boche, hit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMlyEdjwe5M