Study Guide

The King's Speech Summary

The King's Speech Summary

In the opening scene, we find out that King George V rules over a quarter of the world's population and that his second son, the Duke of York, is supposed to give a speech in front of tens of thousands of people. 

Of course, the speech doesn't go well at all. Why? Cecause "Bertie" can't string two words together without falling into a bad stutter.

Flash forward to eight years later, and we find Bertie sitting in the office of a speech therapist who's trying all sorts of cockamamie ideas to cure his stutter. Marbles in the mouth? Doctor-approved cigarettes? Who are these quacks? Frustrated, Bertie gives up and tells his wife Elizabeth that he's finished with trying to cure his stutter.

Elizabeth doesn't give up, though. She visits one last controversial therapist named Lionel Logue and asks him if he can help her husband. He insists that he can, but he'll require total equality whenever Bertie is in his office.

Logue convinces Bertie to keep seeing him after he tricks Bertie into giving a stutter-free reading of Hamlet. Logue and Bertie work closely together, but no matter how much progress they make, all of it seems to evaporate as soon as Bertie gets into a stressful situation. That's why Logue insists on delving into Bertie's personal life; he's convinced that Bertie's stutter is connected to childhood trauma—which it probably is.

Things are already pretty bad, but they quickly get even worse. Bertie's father, King George V, passes away and leaves the throne to Bertie's irresponsible brother David. 

At least Bertie won't have to be king, right?

Ha.

One day, Bertie gets the horrible news that his brother David is going to leave the throne of England in order to marry an American divorcée named Wallis. That means that Bertie will have to step up and become king. And if things weren't bad enough, England is about to go to war with Germany, which means the king (Bertie) will have to give speeches to rally his country.

This is a nightmare for Bertie, but Logue promises to help him deliver his speeches. In a dramatic scene at Westminster Abbey, Logue also makes Bertie realize that he deserves to be heard—not as a king, but as a human being.

In the movie's final scene, Logue steps into a broadcasting room with Bertie and helps him get through his first wartime speech. With Logue's help and friendship, Bertie gives a killer speech, and people all over England are inspired by his words. 

A final set of 411 tell us that Bertie and Logue would go on to be friends for the rest of their lives and that Logue would help Bertie with all of his wartime speeches. Bertie would go on to be known to all British subjects as "The Good King."