Listen To The King's Actual Speech

If you've seen The King's Speech (or probably even the trailer), you know the story: Prince Albert had a stutter. It was, of course, an embarrassing problem for someone destined to live his life in the public eye—and became an even bigger one when his father, King George V, died in 1936. By the end of the year, Albert's older brother Edward had given up the throne to marry a woman who (shockingly!) had been divorced (twice!). And Prince Albert reluctantly became King George VI . 

A couple of years later, Hitler annexed Austria. Took over Czechoslovakia. Invaded Poland. And on September 3, 1939,  the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. Later that day, King George fought the stutter he'd been working for years to overcome and delivered a speech to his people. It marked the beginning of six years of war, and of his transformation into a symbol of resilience in the face of the Nazis: the embodiment of the British stiff upper lip. He and the Queen would refuse to flee London during the Battle of Britain, rationed their own consumption and were nearly killed when German bombs landed in the garden of Buckingham Palace. Here—filled with the deliberate pauses and other techniques learned from his speech therapist—is the recording of King George's address, heard that day on radio sets from London to Melbourne, from Edinburgh to Toronto:

Photo: King George VI

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