The King’s Speech

British Empire Exhibition Postage Stamps

Today in 1924, the first broadcast made by King George V was transmitted from the opening ceremony of the British Empire Exhibition. An estimated 10 million people heard the transmission and many events around the country were suspended so that the public could listen. This was also, possibly, the first electronic recording made in England.  At the BBC archives, you can listen to the broadcast of the ceremony. As president of the event, Edward, Prince of Wales, asks his father, King George V, to open the proceedings. They acknowledge the hard work that has gone into the exhibition, despite adverse weather, and outline its aims to show the achievements of the Empire and its peoples and to stimulate the economy, which is still recovering from World War I.

The film The King’s Speech, a major box office and critical success in 2011, opens with Prince Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V, speaking (and stammering) at the close of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. The film ends with his speech (halting, but not stammering) to the nation (and the Empire) as King George VI at the outbreak of World War II. Listen to the historical speech at the BBC Archives and watch Colin Firth’s performance on YouTube.

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