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King George VI letter thanking speech therapist for coronation success revealed

King George VI's story was made into a film called The King's Speech. (Getty Images)

A newly unearthed note reveals King George VI thanked his speech therapist in a heartfelt letter after overcoming his nerves at his coronation.

King George VI sought help to deal with his stutter after he unexpectedly acceded to the throne, following the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII.

He employed Lionel Logue, a speech therapist, who had been found by his wife Elizabeth after then Prince Albert had been unable to speak during a live broadcast on national radio.

Australian Logue was actually an actor by trade, and was written off by many as a quack. But his daily exercise regime gave the future king the confidence to relax and to be able to speak without stammering.

The tale of King George VI and Logue was turned into a film, The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth.

The letter, which is to go up for auction at the end of April, reveals the anxiety King George VI felt before the coronation, and how relieved he was when it was over without a glitch.

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The letter expresses his thanks to Lionel Logue after the coronation. (Woolley and Wallis)
King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth on the day of his coronation. (Getty Images)

Dated five days after his coronation and written from Windsor Castle after he had watched it, the newly-crowned king said: “You know how anxious I was to get my responses right in the Abbey, the poor rehearsal adding greatly to me anxiety, but my mind was finally set at ease tonight.

“Not a moment’s hesitation or mistake!”

He added: “The success was due to your expert supervision and unfailing patience with me over recent months, & I truly don’t know how I could have done it without you.”

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The letter was sent with a silver-gilt cigarette case bearing his Royal cipher, as a token of his thanks.

Rupert Slingsby, Silver specialist at Woolley and Wallis saleroom, said: “We believe this letter is the only example written to Logue by George VI which has not been retained by the Logue family.

“When Lionel Logue died in April 1953 both the case and the letter were given to his younger brother, Herbert. In August of the same year Herbert gave both to an Australian jeweller in lieu of a payment of £27 [about £1,300 today], which was owed for a graduated pearl necklace with a sapphire and diamond clasp.”

The letter is going up for auction at the end of April. (Woolley and Wallis)
It was sent with a silver cigarette case. (Woolley and Wallis)

The jeweller was Charles McGowan, of Eton Arcade in Sutherland, Sydney, and it has been passed down through his descendants. It is said to be being sold “reluctantly”.

The letter and case will be for sale at an auction house in Salisbury and are expected to go for more than £4,000.

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Slingsby added: “Before ‘The King’s Speech’, most people were unaware of the difficulties that George VI encountered with his stammer, but the enduring and endearing friendship between the King and Lionel Logue that emerged from that is especially evident in this new letter.”

King George VI was crowned in the ceremony planned for his brother. He was the father of Queen Elizabeth II, currently the longest reigning living monarch.

The full text of the letter

My dear Logue,

The Queen and I have just viewed the film of our Coronation, & I could not wait to send you a few lines to thank you again for your hard work in helping me prepare for the great day.

You know how anxious I was to get my responses right in the Abbey, the poor rehearsal adding greatly to me anxiety, but my mind was finally set at ease tonight. Not a moment’s hesitation or mistake! The same cannot be said of the Bishops, of course, nor the pen I used to sign the Oath; the ink got all over my fingers, but fortunately one can hardly make it out.

The success was due to your expert supervision and unfailing patience with me over recent months, & I truly don’t know how I could have done it without you.

I want you to know how grateful I am, not only for your invaluable help with my speech, but for your devoted friendship & encouragement, & I hope you will accept this small gift as a token of my appreciation.

Yours very sincerely

George RI