The film The King's Speech centres on the late King's struggle with a major speech impediment.
Following the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie, the Duke of York, (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a severe speech impediment since birth, is propelled into the throne of Britain as King George VI. The year is 1936 and Europe is soon to become embroiled in the Second World War. The need for a leader is paramount is recognised by all. Elizabeth, Bertie’s wife, (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her him to be assessed by a speech therapist with unorthodox methods – Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a difficult start Bertie and Logue are immersed in Logue’s alternative forms of treatment which results in a strong and long lasting friendship. Supported by Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the George VI overcomes his impediment to deliver a radio-address that inspires the British people uniting them in the face of the impending war. For once this film is based on an entirely true story
What is generally unknown is that the Duke of York was installed as Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland a few weeks before his brother abdicated. Following the installation ceremony he addressed the assembled Brethren as follows:
"Right Worshipful Installing Grand Master, I have just received the following telegram from His Majesty The King. (Applause He says — 'Please express to the Scottish Freemasons and the visiting brethren assembled in Edinburgh my sincere thanks for their loyal and fraternal greetings. Edward. (who was also a Freemason)
My first words after my installation as Grand Master Mason of Scotland must be to convey to you my appreciation of the high honour which has been conferred upon me being elected Grand Master Mason on this historic Masonic occasion I would also like to thank the brethren for their wonderful welcome to me here this afternoon. I would also like to convey my personal thanks and those of my Office-bearers, to the Immediate Past Grand Master Sir Iain Colquhoun, for having installed us in our respective offices. (Applause) I shall have a further opportunity later of addressing you, so I will confine myself at the moment to saying how delighted I am to see this great gathering of Scottish Freemasons, and how please we all are to welcome those distinguished brethren representative o Sister Grand Constitutions and our own Lodges who have come from all over the world to celebrate the Bi-centenary of the Grand Lodge o Scotland. (Loud applause)
At the festival of St. Andrew following the installation ceremony the Grand Master Mason replied to a toast by Brother The Right Honourable The Earl of Donoughmore, K.P., Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in the following terms:
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then said – "Brethren, I think we should like to hear the reply of our Grand Master Mason of Scotland.'
The Grand Master Mason, who was received with vociferous cheering on rising to reply to the toast, said — "Brethren, before replying t the toast proposed so well by the Grand Master of Ireland, I would like to read to you a message from the King which he asked me to give you on this historic occasion." (Loud applause)
The brethren rose and remained standing while the Grand Master Mason read the following message:
"I am very pleased to know that you have been installed a Grand Master Mason of Scotland, in the Usher Hall. Had it not been for my Accession to the Throne the task you are taking on would have fallen to my lot, but I am delighted that you have been elected to fill my place. I wish you all success in the office and I would ask you to convey to the members of the Scottish fraternity my best fraternal wishes and congratulations on the' attainment of their Bi-centenary." (Applause)
The Grand Master Mason then continued with his reply – "I want to tell you all how very much I appreciate the great honour, of being your Grand Master Mason. It is a great pleasure to me to be here this evening, and I thank you all for the wonderful welcome which you have given to me. (Hear, hear) All of us who are present here as Scottish Freemasons, and all over the world, are rejoicing in the attainment of the Bi-centenary of our Grand Lodge. (Applause) And what does that mean? It signifies that for 200 years the Grand Lodge of Scotland has pursued the administrative and benevolent purposes for which she has always stood. Freemasonry, as we have all been taught, has always been a progressive science, and the Grand Lodge of Scotland has steadily developed with the passing years. In spite of many Daughter Lodges being incorporated in Sister Constitutions, our Grand Lodge has retained 890 active Lodges at home and overseas, with a total membership of over a quarter of a million. During the last fifty years Grand Lodge has vastly increased her benevolent activities. The capital of our Annuity and Benevolent Funds exceeds half a million pounds and provides the means of meeting the many and increasing claims which are received. Brethren, an occasion such as this, the Bi-centenary, does not very often happen (laughter), and Grand Lodge asked representatives of Sister Constitutions from other countries to come here and be entertained, and you have entertained them. That needs money — it always does — and in order to meet the extraordinary expenditure for the purposes of the celebrations, a call was made upon all the Lodges; and I want to express the thanks of Grand Lodge for the response which was made. Over £10,000 has been subscribed, and every Lodge in Scotland has subscribed (applause) and many over-seas. (Applause) I hope that from the balance which will result Grand Lodge will be able to give each of her annuitants an extra grant to mark this special occasion. (Applause) Brethren, we look with pride on the achievements of two hundred years, but do not let us dwell too much on the past, because it should be our resolve to do all we can in return, in the present and in the future, not only to maintain but to strengthen Grand Lodge, and thereby promote the welfare of the Daughter Lodges and of Freemasonry as a whole throughout the world." (Loud applause)
The Grand Master Mason, the Duke of York, had no difficulty in delivering these two addresses. This was some considerable time before the unconventional speech therapist, Logue, had been employed to assist his overcome his speech impediment. How could this be? It is suggested that this was due to the fact that he was not confronted by a crowd of strangers but a crowd of Freemasons, that is by a crowd of his friends and Brothers.