Bertie before George VI

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CASE STUDY. In December 1937, Prince Albert, the Duke of York (Bertie), had no desire to be King. His birth order, his shyness, and his speech impediment all seemed to preclude his ever ascending the throne.

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Bertie before George VI: Abstract

Bertie before George VI is a case study by André Cyr and Laurent Lapierre.

In December 1937, Prince Albert, the Duke of York (Bertie), had no desire to be King. His birth order, his shyness, and his speech impediment all seemed to preclude his ever ascending the throne. He was also unprepared for the job, having had little access to state documents. Although the press greeted the resolution of the abdication crisis and the arrival of the new King with enthusiasm, there were many who doubted Bertie’s fitness to reign.

George VI was also placed in a unique position upon succeeding his brother (David), Edward VIII. For centuries, no British king had had to deal with a living former king whose presence was still felt. Once again, there would be comparisons with David. Although he was now King, Bertie remained in his brother’s shadow. Moreover, a minority of Britons still believed that the former king had been unfairly treated. In right-wing circles, the phrase « palace coup » was even mentioned.

The goal of this case is to provide background information on the historic circumstances and main characters of the film The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper. The film and the case study are to be used together.

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Also available in French.

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