I know, I was shocked too! What other costume dramas based on true stories have been wrong? Did the Titanic really sail without a spoiled redhead running around bleating “Jack!” every five minutes? Did Emperor Commodus not actually die at the hands of a general his father favored? I don’t know what to believe anymore!
Seriously, though, according to this Slate article, the biggest change up was in the character of Churchill, played by Timothy Spall. Churchill was not the close buddy and supporter of Prince Bertie he was shown to be in the film. In reality, hard-partying Churchill was a good friend and supporter of hard-partying Prince Edward. He went so far as to give an inebriated speech in the House of Commons praising Edward and declaring that he would “shine in history as the bravest and best-loved of all sovereigns who have worn the island crown.” Yeah, that didn’t end up happening, as we all know.
So, in the film Churchill’s character has been airbrushed a bit, and so have the early days of King George’s reign. Apparently, Bertie made a huge blunder when he invited Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Buckingham Palace straight after Chamberlain’s trip to Munich, putting the royal stamp of approval on Chamberlain’s appeasement policies before Chamberlain met with Parliament to explain his actions. This was apparently a huge no-no for a constitutional monarch, and a moment we never got to see. But then, the story wasn’t really about the politics, was it?
So, yes, one of this year’s Oscar frontrunners isn’t 100% accurate, because it’s supposed to be entertainment, not a documentary. Rest assured, the main points of the film are true: Bertie did stutter, Lionel Logue did help him overcome it, and Queen Elizabeth did sport those odd, wispy bangs.
Happy Oscar night, everybody!