Wow. Just wow. I finished the audiobook version of The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy. The authors are Peter J. Conradi and Mark Logue. Logue is the grandson of Lionel Logue, the speech therapist of King George VI. Logue was able to help the King where many other specialists had failed.
As in the 2011 Oscar-winning film for Best Picture, the book accurately and movingly shows what it feels like to have a stammer, stutter, or any kind of difficulty speaking. This challenge really affects self-esteem and confidence at times, but most of us have to go on and do what needs to be done. Even so, facing a huge audience or an intimidating microphone can really be scary.
Even more, this biography details the strong friendship between two men: one royalty, the other a commoner originally from Australia who eventually became a British subject. That friendship would always have certain limits, but they always kept in touch and supported one another. Each man’s life is explored in depth. In many ways, Logue was a substitute father to the King. While the movie concentrates on the speech to galvanize the British people against the Nazis, Logue helped the king with many more speeches and voice training, which included frequent deep breathing exercises and other tips. Logue would often edit the words, choosing vocabulary that was easier for the king to pronounce. Though photographed sitting down, George VI preferred to walk around while giving a radio address. These efforts increased the King’s confidence. Eventually, he was able to deliver speeches without Logue being by his side, but he always called Logue afterward to hear his feedback. Although no non-royal could touch the monarch, Logue would congratulate the king by giving his arm a warm clasp for a job well done.
In addition, many other students were very appreciative of Logue’s teaching methods and support. They felt they got their voices back, and were able to succeed.
The book gives excellent background about the events leading up to and during World War II and the aftermath. Day-t0-day life in wartime Britain is richly detailed. Listeners are treated to two recitations of the real “King’s speech”–making it all the more powerful. Here it is again:
Here are two examples of the correspondence between George VI and Logue.
Finally, it’s also exciting to share in Mark Logue’s learning more of his family’s history by looking through existing records in his possession and this shared by other family members. Some documents, however, he is still searching for.
An amazing and touching read.