Lionel Logue - At the End of His Life

Lionel Logue - At the End of His Life - Preview Image

Lionel Logue is depicted in this 1953 photograph with his oldest son, Laurie, and Laurie's wife, Jo.  They are on their way to Buckingham Palace.

The picture was taken after the death of Logue's wife, Myrtle, and not long before Logue died on the 12th of April, 1953 at the age of 73.

It was Logue who was responsible for helping King George VI overcome his stammer.  The fruits of their collaboration were clearly evident when the monarch delivered his speech to the British empire on September 3, 1939 - the very address after which the film, "The King's Speech," is named.

Logue and King George VI remained good friends until the King died on February 6, 1952.  Less than two months before his death, the King - who frequently exchanged letters with Logue - sent a final note to his speech therapist.  Among other things, it states:

I am so sorry to hear that you have not been well again.  As for myself, I have spent a wretched year culminating in that very severe operation[removal of a lung], from which I seem to be making a remarkable recovery.  The latter fact is in many ways entirely down to you.  Before this operation, Price Thomas the surgeon asked to see me breathe.  When he saw the diaphragm move up and down naturally he asked me whether I had always breathed that way.  I said no, I had been taught to breathe like that in 1926 & had gone on doing so.  Another feather in your cap you see!!  (George VI to Lionel Logue, 14 December 1951, quoted by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi in The King's Speech, at page 224.)

King George died in his sleep less than two months later (on February 6, 1952).  He had lung cancer, although his physicians did not tell him the specifics of his illness.

Twenty days after the King's death, Logue wrote to his widow (then known as the Queen Mother).  He noted how hard George VI had worked to improve his speaking ability:

...Since 1926 he honoured me, by allowing me to help him with his speech, & no man ever worked as hard as he did, & achieved such a grand result.  During all those years you were a tower of strength to him & he has often told me how much he has owed to you, and the excellent result could never have been achieved if it had not been for your help.  I have never forgotten your gracious help to me after my own beloved girl [his wife, Myrtle] passed on.  (Logue to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother - February 26, 1952 - the U.K. National Archives.)

Despite her grief at the unexpected death of her husband, the Queen Mother replied two days later.  She was gracious in her praise of Logue:

...I think that I know perhaps better than anyone just how much you helped the King, not only with his speech, but through that his whole life & outlook on life.  I shall always be deeply grateful to you for all you did for him.  He was such a splendid person and I don't believe that he ever thought of himself at all.  I did so hope that he might have been allowed a few years of comparative peace after the many anguished years he has had to battle through so bravely.  But it was not to be.  I do hope that you will soon be better.  (The Queen Mother to Lionel Logue, 28 February 1952, U.K. National Archives.)

Even after George VI was gone, Logue continued to be an invited guest at Buckingham Palace.  The new queen, Elizabeth II, gave Logue one of her father's possessions - a gold snuff box.  She sent the gift, with a personal letter, including these words:

I am sending you this little box which always stood on the King's table, & which he was rather fond of, as I am sure you would like a little personal souvenir of someone who was so grateful to you for all you did for him.  The box was on his writing table, & I know that he would wish you to have it.

I do hope that you are feeling better.  I miss the King more & more. 

Yours v sincerely
  Elizabeth R.   (Queen Elizabeth II to Lionel Logue, U.K. National Archives.)

The new Queen invited Logue to her coronation (scheduled for June 2, 1953), but he did not get better.  In early 1953, he became bedridden.  He died of kidney failure on April 12, 1953.  

Logue's body was cremated.  His funeral was held, five days after his death, at Holy Trinity Church in Brompton.  Both the Queen, and the Queen Mother sent representatives to pay their respects.  So did the Australian High Commissioner.   

Credits

Image online, courtesy the U.K. National Archives.

 

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