What a lovely film, with more British stars of screen and stage than Harry Potter. And who could resist a browse around in history to find out a little more about George VI…..? Herewith a few programme notes.
1. Bertie was forced to buy the well-known royal residences Balmoral (in Scotland) and Sandringham (Norfolk) from his brother when he became king, as the two properties were considered private residences and did not automatically pass to him.
2. When it was suggested that his wife, Elizabeth, send her children out of London to safety during the Blitz, she famously answered “The children will not go without me, I will not go without the King and the King will never leave.”
3. Despite his devotion to his wife (“‘the most marvellous person in the world”), Bertie spent a good deal of his life infatuated with an actress named Evelyn ‘Boo’ Laye. Elizabeth apparently had “an amused acceptance” of her husband’s admiration of Laye, and it was Laye who recommended the services of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.
4. Elizabeth (later the Queen Mum) was known for her irreverent sense of humour. A friend of Noel Coward’s, she once noticed his eyes flicker across a line of soldiers and whispered: “I wouldn’t if I were you, Noël; they count them before they put them out.”
5. George VI was the first member of the royal family to own a Corgi, purchased in 1933. His name was Dookie.
6. According to rumour, Wallis Simpson had an affair with Mussolini’s future son-in-law and became pregnant, leading to a botched abortion that left her unable to conceive.
And here it is, the real King George VI’s speech. Have a listen, it’s wonderful.