Bertie and Elizabeth: The Reluctant Royals (2002) TV




Directors  Giles Foster.

Starring:  James Wilby (King George VI, aka 'Bertie'), Juliet Aubrey (Queen Elizabeth), Alan Bates (King George V), Eileen Atkins (Queen Mary), Charles Edwards (Edward VIII), Amber Rose Sealey (Wallis Simpson), Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh (Princess Elizabeth), Hannah Wiltshire (Princess Margaret), Robert Hardy (President Franklin D Roosevelt).

The Story of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth.


Spoiler warning: below is the full story of the movie.

Bertie is the son of King George V of England and the brother of David, who will become King Edward VIII.  He suffers from stuttering. He is very attracted to Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Strathmore, who works as a nurse.  He tells her "I hate being noticed."

1922.  Bertie proposes and Elizabeth responds "I will marry you."  They marry.  She has a baby that they name Elizabeth, who will become in the future Queen Elizabeth II of England. 

David is seeing a married woman named Thelma.  It is she who introduces him to Mrs. Wallis Simpson.  The two begin to become very close and as they do his father and mother, the King and Queen, try to tell him that Mrs. Simpson will be unacceptable to the family and to the nation. David pretty much ignores them. 

David and Bertie's father dies.  Now David is King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom. 

Bertie complains to his wife that Wallis lectures David at the dinner table and that he feels like he is losing his brother. 

The American papers have headlines saying the the King will marry Wally.  And if so, David could be forced out of his position as king.  Prime Minister Baldwin is unmovable on the issue.   Even David has to admit to Bertie that "I may have to go."  This prospects frightens Bertie who tells his wife "I can't step into his shoes" and that he is distressed by a job in which people will be looking at him. 

King Edward VIII abdicates saying: " I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." 

The Archbishop of Canterbury coronates Bertie as King George VI with the crown of Edward the Confessor.  Bertie gives his brother an allowance of 25,000 pounds per year.  (He later finds out that David lied to him, that he actually had accumulated a fortune of a million pounds.)  David disgraces himself by meeting with Hitler of Germany, even going as far as to give the Nazi salute. 

Bertie and Elizabeth visit President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.  Roosevelt notes his disapproval of Prime Minister Chamberlain and his agreement with Hitler. 

Chamberlain is out and Churchill forms a new government. 

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands calls and asks Bertie to send her some aircraft to oppose the Germans.  He has none to spare so she comes to England and puts herself under the protection of the King and Queen. 

German air raids damage the King and Queen's residence.  They wonder when FDR will get the Americans involved in the war.  The Queen comments that it would take a bomb on the White House lawn delivered by Hitler personally to wake up the American President.  Of course, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, brings the USA into the war.

The German General Rommel in Africa is finally pushed back by the Brits under Gen. Montgomery at El Alamein.  Monty later visits the royal family.

V-E day finally arrives.  Daughter Elizabeth asks what's wrong with daddy and her mother answers that he is just very tired. 

The King is not all that happy to welcome Attlee of the Labor Party as the new Prime Minster.  He says to Attlee that he guesses that he will want to nationalize things and the new Prime Minister agrees. 

Lt. Philip Mountbatten, R.N., the son of the late Prince Andrew of Greece, weds Elizabeth.  David and Wallis are not invited to the wedding. 

Later David visits his Bertie wanting the King to recognize his wife.  No is the answer.  David infuriates his brother when he says that the King has been hampered by his mother and his wife, those "ice-veined bitches."  David remains calm and walks out. 

1952.  King George VI dies of lung cancer.  David is allowed to come to the funeral. 



Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:



See The King's Speech (2010) and  Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978).


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