Lionel Logue

Lionel Logue

A friend was telling me about a story that was told to her by her grandmother. The day of her engagement was also the day that George VI was crowned. There was a large party at the Cafe Royal to celebrate the coronation and her engagement to my friend’s grandfather. A late arrival was Logie (Lionel Logue), as he was known to the group. Her grandmother recalled that he was well liked and known as part of the Australian mafia, who were a group of successful professionals from Australia. My friend’s grandmother went to kiss Logie but he turned his head and presented the other cheek. “Not there”, he said, the Queen has just kissed me there.”

After the film: The King’s Speech, much has been said by speech therapists about what methods Lionel Logue employed to help the Duke of York, later King George VI, with his stammer. He never wrote a book on his methods although he was asked to do so several times. He said “On the matter of Speech Defects, when so much depends on the temperament and individuality, a case can always be produced that can prove you are wrong. That is why I won’t write a book.”

Suzanne Edgar, in Volume 15 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, provides the most detailed account of Logue’s diagnosis and treatment, and the duke’s response.

“The therapist diagnosed poor coordination between larynx and diaphragm, and asked him to spend an hour each day practising rigorous exercises. The duke came to his rooms, stood by an open window and loudly intoned each vowel for fifteen seconds. Logue restored his confidence by relaxing the tension which caused muscle spasms. The duke’s stammer diminished to occasional hesitations. Resonantly and without stuttering, he opened the Australian parliament in Canberra in 1927.

Using tongue twisters, Logue helped the duke rehearse for major speeches and coached him for the formal language of his coronation in 1937. At Westminster Abbey on 12th May, wearing the M.V.O. decoration given to him by King George VI on the previous night, Logue sat in the apse to encourage him during the ceremony. Before the King’s radio broadcast that evening, Logue whispered to him: “Now take it quietly Sir”.

“The ‘slow, measured pace’ which he had afforded the King’s diction proved affecting in His Majesty’s wartime broadcasts and speeches.

Elevated to C.V.O. in 1944, Logue was with the King for the V.E.-Day broadcast on 8 May 1945. Their friendship was ‘the greatest pleasure’ of Logue’s life” (Edgar, 2000).

Please email Caroline Bowen using the following link if you have any stories or information connection with Lionel Logue.