The King’s Speech

by Ben Johnson

Perhaps you have seen the award winning film – which was nominated for 12 Oscars – now you can view the original transcript of the King’s Speech, which was sent to Scotland Yard in 1939, announcing that Britain was going to war.

The transcript – which was broadcast to the nation on 3 September 1939 – can be viewed free at the Metropolitan Police’ Historical Collection – along with hundreds of other documents, artefacts and images detailing the history of policing since 1829.

The King’s Speech – starring Colin Firth – tells the inspiring story of George VI who overcomes his stammer as he reluctantly takes the throne when his brother, Edward VIII abdicates in 1936 over his plans to marry twice divorced Wallis Simpson.

A series of announcements by the King and Prime Minister were broadcast to the country asking police for their help in getting people to follow air raid precautions and wear gas masks. A war cabinet was also formed and people were asked to stand firm and resolute in the battle ahead.

police wearing gas masks

In his first speech, on 3 September 1939, King George V1 said: “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 new king quickly won the respect of his ministers and his people and his hard work and conscientious manner eventually brought him respect in his war torn country.

Neil Paterson, Manager of the Historical Collection said: “The Met is in such a unique position to have a rich history of documents, photos and images dating back to 1829. We are very proud of our Collection – which is free to see – and people from all over the world regularly come to view it.”

View the transcript below of the King’s speech:

transcript of King George VI's speech

The Historical Collection is based at Empress State Building, Empress Approach, Lillie Road, London, SW6 1TR, London, from 10am – 4pm weekdays.

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