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The British monarchy on screen$
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Mandy Merck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099564

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.001.0001

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The King’s Speech: an allegory of imperial rapport

The King’s Speech: an allegory of imperial rapport

(p.205) 9 The King’s Speech: an allegory of imperial rapport
The British monarchy on screen

Deirdre Gilfedder

Manchester University Press

This chapter will consider Tom Hooper’s award-winning film, The King’s Speech, in terms of its allegorical references to imperial relations in the inter-war period. It concentrates on the pairing of George VI (Colin Firth) and his Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) as lord and vassal, both caught in bonds of loyalty and trust but also defined by the imperial centre’s need for the fealty of the periphery. This evokes the traditional ties that were drawn upon in the First World War and would be again in the Second, touching upon the work of Ernst Kantorowicz in his history of pro patria mori. King George VI could be seen as Britain’s last emperor and the use of media power to enhance the distribution not of “the body of the King” but ofhis voice provides some of the incongruous magic the film elicits between ancient and modem concepts of monarchy and citizenship. The historically-based character Lionel Logue is represented as an ambiguous imperial subject–he is both loyalist and a presumptive colonial. The play between Logue and the King ski1is around a “majesty” which is both unfonned (the stuttering) and challenged, figured most explicitly by the scene set around King Edward’s Chair. Deftly deploying both pathos and comedy, the narrative serves to re-establish this majesty through the life-giving support of unorthodox colonial ingenuity.

Keywords:   The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper, George VI, Colin Firth, Lionel Logue, Geoffrey Rush, Ernst Kantorowicz

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