Marc Maitland's Reviews > The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy

The King's Speech by Mark Logue
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Aug 06, 11

Having seen the film recently, and having been thoroughly moved by it, and enjoyed every minute of it, reading the book of the same name seemed an obvious choice! I was not disappointed.

Firstly, the book is not a screenplay for the film, nor is it simply a biography of Lionel Logue, C.V.O., the Australian speech therapist who helped King George VI overcome his speech difficulties and became a loyal and valued friend in the process. The book seems to have been devised at the same time as the film, but entirely separately from it, although the former is undoubtedly basking in the glory and publicity afforded by the film, which is has already won numerous awards and is being tipped to win several Oscars – as indeed it ought. But, the book, written by Lionel Logue’s grandson Mark Logue and Peter Conradi an established author is an entirely free-standing work, and thoroughly worthwhile to read.

Although in scope it follows the film, it deals with the earlier periods of both King’s and therapist’s lives, and follows them to the ends of their lives, in 1952 and 1953 respectively, whereas the film climaxed (and ended) with the King’s great speech of 1945, on the eve of World War Two. That His Late Majesty went on to make many more speeches, one of which in particular has become more famous than the eponymous speech, his Christmas broadcast of 1945, which included the famous words, “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year….”, is lost in the film, but covered in the book. And rightly so, since that broadcast speech is probably much more famous nowadays.

It is always easy for a descendant of someone who was close to someone powerful and famous to state what good friends they were, especially once both the main characters are no longer with us. But, here, all the evidence does point towards there having been a genuine friendship between King and Logue, as friendly as any relationship between King Emperor and subject ever can be, and also taking account of the more deferential attitudes of that period.

I enjoyed reading the book as much as I enjoyed the film. Without hesitation I recommend the book to anyone with an interest in British history, World War Two, broadcasting, speech-making and the Royal Family. The book underplays (in a way the film most certainly does not) the role played by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (as she then was).

Knowing what I know of Her Late Majesty, and having met her several times at Royal Lodge (where she enjoyed her happiest times with her family, and where she died in 2002), I am sure that her role in her husband’s life can never be overstated!

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