November 20, 2011

King George's Sleepover, World War II

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The King’s Speech is one of my favorite movies and it’s on TV sometimes now. Even though I saw it in the theater, I usually stop and watch it for a while whenever it’s on.
I like the film for lots of reasons, but the biggest is the character of the speech therapist, Lionel Logue,  played by Goeffrey Rush. A normal person. Not royal-born. Not a doctor. Nonetheless, this unassuming person is able to provide a great service to King George VI and to England. I like that. And the king and his wife stood by him. I like that too.
This week, so soon after our Veteran’s Day, something in the movie triggered a memory of a story my father used to tell. I think it’s true, even though I have to admit my father was a great storyteller. He used to say that, in World War II, when the American soldiers landed in England, they had them set up camp on the grounds around Windsor Castle.
One evening, my father remembered, King George VI and his daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth, walked around the encampment, shook hands with the soldiers, and thanked them for coming. Imagine! Cowboys from Texas, loggers from the Northwest, stevedores from New Jersey, maybe even Indians from The Great Plains—all shook hands with the king!
Oh, I hope the story was true. If so, King George—and his daughter—had a lot of class. And that’s not something that comes automatically with a crown.

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