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'The King's Speech' as history: Did he really call the duke 'flabby'?

Hand-written notes by Lionel Logue, the speech therapist portrayed in the Oscar-winning 'The King's Speech,' shed light on his close, direct, and unadorned relationship with the future king.

By Staff writer / March 1, 2011

In this film publicity image released by The Weinstein Company, Collin Firth (l.) and Geoffrey Rush are shown in a scene from, 'The King's Speech.'

The Weinstein Company/Laurie Sparham/AP


Los Angeles

Still basking in the glow of a Best Picture Oscar win, “The King’s Speech” continues to pique curiosity about just how true some of the film’s details really are.

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When the mere suggestion of a protocol lapse during the Obamas’ visit to Buckingham Palace created an international protocol “grande scandale” (Did Michelle Obama really touch Queen Elizabeth?!), is it really possible that more than 80 years ago a commoner could sit on the floor with the future King of England and call him “flabby?”

While some historians are dubious, the president of the International Protocol Officers Association, Chris Young, says, “why not?” Everyone, no matter how high their elected office or inherited position, needs – and almost always finds – someone with whom he or she can be completely normal, he adds.

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Perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning – the first encounter between Australian therapist/Shakespearean actor/son of a brewmeister Lionel Logue and then Prince Albert.

The second in line to the British throne came for help with a lifelong and debilitating stutter. The notes from those sessions, recorded in tiny pen-and-ink handwriting on 12-by-4-inch cards – now yellow with age – tell a story of their own. They have been passed down from the original Logue to his son and now to his grandson, Mark Logue, who lives in London.

Here we pick up the narration as Mark Logue, in a telephone interview, reads snippets from the cards, jotted down at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on October 19, 1926:

“Acute nervous tension which has been brought on by the defect. … Albert has a nervous disposition … physical state well-built with good shoulders… waistline very flabby,” reads Mr. Logue.


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