The King’s Speech, 1939

King George VI addressed the British people over radio, after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain had declared war on Nazi Germany, on this day in 1939, saying:

In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, for the second time in the lives of most of us we are at war. Over and over again we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those who are now our enemies. But it has been in vain. The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead and war is no longer confined to the battlefield.”

The speech was the culmination of years of speech therapy to overcome the King’s stammer, a story immortalized in the award-winning film ‘The King’s Speech’, starring Colin Firth.  During the war, the King and Queen visited troops and traveled around the country to raise morale, gaining immense popularity, though the King’s health rapidly deteriorated, leading to his early death in 1952.

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