Hitchins gets up to speed on The King’s Speech

Enjoyable piece by Christopher Hitchins in the Guardian of January 31.

The King’s Speech is an extremely well-made film with a seductive human-interest plot, very prettily calculated to appeal to the smarter filmgoer. But it perpetrates a gross falsification of history. One of the very few miscast actors – Timothy Spall as a woefully thin pastiche of Winston Churchill – is the exemplar of this bizarre rewriting. He is shown as a consistent friend of the stuttering prince and his loyal princess and as a man generally in favour of a statesmanlike solution to the crisis presented by the abdication of the prince's elder brother, King Edward VIII.

It’s good to see that Hitch is catching up with Memex, which, on January 8 observed:

Given that it’s supposed to be a true story, the film’s portrayal of Winston Churchill’s role in the Abdication crisis seems misleading. The impression is given that Churchill — played by a smouldering cigar ably brandished by Timothy Spall — was firmly behind Bertie and — by implication — implacably hostile to Eddie. But that wasn’t the case. For example, he and Lord Beaverbrook, the newspaper proprietor, were in favour of allowing the King to put his case (for being allowed to marry Wallis) to “the people” via a radio broadcast. This idea was blocked by the Cabinet, on the grounds that it would undermine the principle of a constitutional monarchy (which is that the only body entitled to decide these matters is Parliament).