King George VI letter thanking speech therapist for coronation success fetches £76k at auction

·Royal Correspondent
King George VI addresses the British people over radio in 1939. (Getty Images)
King George VI addresses the British people over radio in 1939. (Getty Images)

A one of a kind letter from King George VI to his speech therapist thanking him for his help before the coronation has sold for more than £76,000 at auction.

The letter from George VI to Lionel Logue came to light earlier this year when it was listed by auction house Woolley and Wallis, and details how the king felt after realising he had successfully got through his coronation without being affected by his stutter.

King George VI had sought help after he unexpectedly acceded to the throne, when his brother Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.

His wife Elizabeth found Logue, an Australian actor, after the then Prince Albert had been unable to speak during a live broadcast on national radio.

Despite being considered a quack, Logue’s daily exercises were of great help to the King, and he was able to relax and get through his coronation.

The tale of King George VI and Logue was turned into a film, The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth.

The letter was from King George VI to his speech therapist. (Woolley and Wallis)
The letter was from King George VI to his speech therapist. (Woolley and Wallis)
He wrote about his anxieties before the day. (Woolley and Wallis)
He wrote about his anxieties before the day. (Woolley and Wallis)

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In the letter, he wrote: “The success was due to your expert supervision and unfailing patience with me over recent months, & I truly don’t know how I could have done it without you.”

It was written five days after his coronation in 1937.

The letter was originally due to go up for auction in April, but the sale was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was sold on Thursday, for £76,250 at the Salisbury Woolley and Wallis, having had a starting bid of £4,000. The lot included a silver-gilt cigarette case.

Silver specialist, Rupert Slingsby said: “The past few months have seen interest in this lot build and build, and people were even more eager when we were finally able to reschedule the sale date for 23rd July.

“The story behind the cigarette case and the letter is remarkable, and this is a truly unique item and a fascinating part of the history of the British Royal Family.”

He added: “It is extremely difficult to put a price on something like this, but we’re over the moon that it has sold for such a phenomenal amount.”

The lot was won by a private UK buyer, who beat the Queen and Prince Charles’s jewellers Wartski Ltd.

It's thought to be the only letter to Logue from the King which hasn't been retained by the Logue family. (Woolley and Wallis)
It's thought to be the only letter to Logue from the King which hasn't been retained by the Logue family. (Woolley and Wallis)

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Slingsby added: “We believe this letter is the only example written to Logue by George VI which has not been retained by the Logue family.

“When Lionel Logue died in April 1953 both the case and the letter were given to his younger brother, Herbert. In August of the same year Herbert gave both to an Australian jeweller in lieu of a payment of £27 (about £1,300 today), which was owed for a graduated pearl necklace with a sapphire and diamond clasp.”

Slingsby said parting with the letter was “something of a wrench” for the Australian seller, who thought it would fetch more in a UK auction.

The full text of the letter

My dear Logue,

The Queen and I have just viewed the film of our Coronation, & I could not wait to send you a few lines to thank you again for your hard work in helping me prepare for the great day.

You know how anxious I was to get my responses right in the Abbey, the poor rehearsal adding greatly to me anxiety, but my mind was finally set at ease tonight. Not a moment’s hesitation or mistake! The same cannot be said of the Bishops, of course, nor the pen I used to sign the Oath; the ink got all over my fingers, but fortunately one can hardly make it out.

The success was due to your expert supervision and unfailing patience with me over recent months, & I truly don’t know how I could have done it without you.

I want you to know how grateful I am, not only for your invaluable help with my speech, but for your devoted friendship & encouragement, & I hope you will accept this small gift as a token of my appreciation.

Yours very sincerely

George R