As Boris was watching an afternoon performance of “The King’s Speech”, it reminded him of a bet he had made about the monarchy many years ago. In his Daily Telegraph article today, Boris recalls how he bet a left wing Aussie professor a hundred bucks that the Queen would still be the Australian head of state by the year 2000.
Boris seems to be in a habit of recklessly placing large bets, (didn’t he bet Max Hastings £1,000 that the Tories would form a government?), but the movie “The King’s Speech” illustrates why he was never in any danger of losing this bet on the monarchy. When I went to see the film recently, the cinema was resounding with sniffles and sobs. It is very moving to see how George VI, (Colin Firth), who suffered horribly as a child because of bullying from his father, a nanny and his older brother, faces his fears to accept and fulfill the royal responsibility required of him. He has never been able to make close friends, but the voice coach, Lionel Logue (played brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush), by also acting as a therapist, gets the King to talk about his painful childhood and exorcise his demons and in spite of their different backgrounds, the coach and the king form a deep and enduring friendship.
Guy Pearce, almost unrecognisable as his older brother Edward, powerfully conveys what an unsuitable king he would have been, and the despised Bertie discovers a sense of responsibility, duty and tenacity, in spite of his unconfidence, that his older brother totally lacks. Bertie truly becomes a king. Boris is right, there is a mystique and magic to the British monarchy that we would never wish to lose. We know the Royal Family make mistakes, and are only human, but that magic is something that is so deeply a part of the national psyche, the British people will never let it go.
The conscientious devotion to duty displayed by George VI, which ultimately wrecked his health, in a time of huge crisis for this country, is something we will never forget and always be grateful for.