The King Has Spoken

A look at the themes in "The King's Speech."

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter filming The King's Speech at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum
film still from "The King's Speech"
This weekend I finally made time to watch The King’s Speech. While the life of royalty may be far from what I could normally identify with, this film effectively drew me in—not as a spectator (as is often the case) but rather as an empathizer. Haven’t we all confronted great fears or stumbling blocks, perhaps about faltering in public, or maybe about something else we dared not let on about? At times it seems the evidence of our fear or weakness can remain hidden, at others, it does not. In the case of a leader with a speech impediment, it appears inescapable. But we wouldn’t need to live such a public life to understand what that might be like.

I am an educator. It’s my job to speak in front of people, and I enjoy it, so that particular fear doesn’t reach me very often… but I certainly do get apprehensive when my digestive system is uncooperative and I have to get up in front of a class, or make a trip with uncertainty about restroom availability. At times it requires a fair amount of courage just to take my crazy prednisone pills in the morning. Some patients loathe their infusion treatments or colonoscopy appointments; others fear the mere concept of venturing out.

This is a concept you don’t have to be chronically ill to identify with, either. Most everybody has something they confront this way. Some are quite common, others more peculiar. Whether rooted in anxiety, disability, difficulty, or the perception thereof, we all have mortal fears about humiliation, letting others down, or something completely different. In a king overcoming a stammering tongue while entering a war, we see the anguish quite clearly. For some of us it is not so apparent.

But the film highlights another key component that can be equally hidden in our own lives. The king’s wife and children, his mentor, his colleagues, and his entire nation were pulling for him. In each awkward silence we feel their thoughts, taut with eager hope for him to persevere, to overcome, to succeed. With that quiet support beneath him, and some grit of his own, he ultimately triumphs.

We don’t have to carry our burdens alone. We can call on others for support. With that help we can make those steps, or even leaps, into the uncomfortable or unknown, and we can succeed. We can achieve and enjoy those victories, however small or large or incremental they may be. And, as the king is also clearly mindful about, we can carry great appreciation for the assistance we get along the way.

But it doesn’t stop there... life goes on. New challenges await us. The closing line of the film steers us forward with one final word. Simultaneously an acknowledgement, a salutation, and a directive, the king says, “Onwards.”

image above courtesy of The Lancashire County Council, CC BY 2.0

  • 1

Tags: Advocacy (Making a Difference) , Caretakers , Coping tools

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Recommended for You

  • Iditarod: An Incredible Journey with IBD

    By: Andrew Tubesing, MS
    Mar 06, 2012

    Imagine trekking 1049 miles across the most remote areas of the United States, through the coldest sub-zero temperatures in the country. Imagine covering upwards of 100 miles per day, on a dog sled, for up to two weeks—or even longer. Imagine y...

    Read more »

  • Oasis

    By: Andrew Tubesing, MS
    Feb 28, 2012

    o·a·sis: something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast Imagine a child afflicted by a gut-wrenching disease. Terrible pain, urgent restroom use, and lots and lots of diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea. Fearsome surgeries, troublesom...

    Read more »

  • Seat Sock: Tidy Toilet Technology

    By: Andrew Tubesing, MS
    Feb 16, 2012

    Courtesy of I was recently visiting a local casino with my sister-in-law when she discovered something I’d never heard of. After a post-bingo potty break, she came out of the restroom seeming very excited, asking if I’d exp...

    Read more »

  • Colonoscopy Sweepstakes?

    By: Andrew Tubesing, MS
    Jan 31, 2012

    I was watching TV tonight, killing a few minutes during the commercials, and happened to catch an advertisement for something rather peculiar. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw Ozzy Osbourne, in full regalia, promising to give away...

    Read more »


About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.