King George the VI is both a Hero and a Virgin. He is called upon to inspire his people as they are entering into war with Germany for the second time in a generation. He heroically faces his fear of speaking to fulfill his duty to his country. His ‘foreign land’ where the Hero always goes like a fish out of water, is the new world of radio communication. Suddenly there is technology that puts the King in the livingroom of members of the Common Wealth all over the world (there is a great line where the father bemoans the loss of the old days where the expectation of being Royal was to simply stay on your horse). For a man with a speech impediment, speaking to the multitudes on the radio was akin to facing death. He is called to action by the fact that his people are being called to face that challenge, literally, and need his leadership.
The Promise of King George VI is to be a great leader. As his wife and children see in him, King George has the heart of a true leader. He is generous and loving, and interested in the well-being of others. His father and brother have created a Dependent World where he is mocked and pressured whenever he shines his natural abilities in order to affirm their superiority. What King George needs to give up, that has been keeping him stuck, is the belief that he deserves the treatment his father and brother give him. He preserves his belief that he has a loving family by being the bumbling coward they assert him to be. Until his father dies and his brother abdicates the throne and his people need a leader as they are called to war. When he is all his people have, King George gives himself permission to shine.
Here’s the breakdown of the beats. WARNING: SPOILERS
1) Bertie lives under the oppression of his brother and father, and develops a stutter (2) which makes him a lame Royal. With the invention of the radio and the failing health of the King, Bertie is expected to speak to the Royal subjects all over the world (3). After a series of public humiliations, Bertie meets a speech therapist named Lionel (5). In Lionel’s office Bertie explores the roots of his impediment and learns to be less reverential to the Royal tradition and attach to himself. He is to be crowned King and he goes against the advice of the Arch Bishop and asserts that Lionel will have a place at the ceremony(6). Lionel is outlandishly irreverent about the church and the throne (9). The Arch Bishop tries to reclaim his control over Bertie, the future King, by revealing Lionel has no credentials (7). Bertie must choose between his personal experience of Lionel and his methods, and the way it looks to others and he decides to align himself with Lionel (10). Bertie becomes King George the VI (11) and with the support of his family and Lionel delivers a rousing speech to the nation that they must agin go to war. He has overcome his impediment and risen to his potential as a leader (13).