By Mary Sheehan-Harris, FES Certified Practitioner
|Editor’s note: Mary Sheehan-Harris wrote this archetypal character study as part of the FES Certification Program conducted by instructor Laurie Szott-Rogers in Canada. This essay is very perceptive and describes exactly the soul condition of Prince Albert. It shows an expert job of finding the key pieces of narrative in the movie, and the character dynamics between Logue and Prince Albert – showing how lack of confidence is truly at the heart of Prince Albert’s soul. We might think that someone born into a noble family full of prestige and power would naturally have confidence, but his story shows in such a moving way that he does not believe in himself. It is this lack of belief that has literally stymied his throat chakra, center of creativity and expression. By the time one reads the positive and negative character traits of Larch at the end of the essay, they sound like they were written specifically for Prince Albert.
Prince Albert is the Duke of York and the second son of King George V. He has a speech impediment; he stammers. The movie opens with Prince Albert delivering a speech to a large crowd at Wembley Stadium. His speech is long and drawn out as he stammers his way through. Any public appearance where he must speak is very intimidating and fear filled for the Prince. Elizabeth, Prince Albert’s wife, decides to take things into her own hands and makes an appointment for her husband to meet a speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Prince Albert is doubtful Logue can be of assistance with his stammer; he has seen many professional people and none of them have been successful. Logue asks Bertie, (Prince Albert), to recite Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” while listening to loud music on headphones so he cannot hear himself speak. Logue records his recital, which the prince later listens to at home. He realizes he did not stammer once through his recital. When he realizes he did not stammer, it is enough to encourage him to continue meeting with Logue for speech therapy. Elizabeth expresses their desire to have Logue work only on the mechanical parts of Prince Albert’s speech when she says, “As far as I see it, my husband has mechanical difficulties with his speech. Just deal with that.” However Logue knows that is not enough; “Physical exercise and tricks are important, what you are asking will only deal with the surface of the problem.”
Assessment: Prince Albert’s Archetype is Larch; lack of self-confidence. Larch raises self-confidence and faith in oneself. It helps those who see themselves as inferior.
Prince Albert’s father was very strict, often pushing the Prince to practice speaking. Gruffly he would say, “Get it out boy...Just try it...Do it.” The Prince’s mother was cold and unavailable. In one of Prince Albert’s meetings with Logue, his father has just died and he opens up about traumatic events that took place in his life: “I was informed after the fact that my Father’s last words were, ‘Bertie has more guts than the rest of his brothers put together.’ He couldn’t say that to my face.” When the Prince notices Logue’s partly finished model airplane on his coffee table he says, “I always wanted to play with models, father wouldn’t allow it. He collected stamps, so we had to collect stamps.” Logue recognizes the model plane as an opportunity for Bertie to share personally, giving Logue some clues to the root of Bertie’s stammer. He allows the prince to work on the model plane.
Logue: “Does it feel strange your brother David will be on the throne?”
Bertie: “It was a relief, knowing I wouldn’t be king.”
As Bertie continues working on the model he loses his rigidness and speaks more
freely to Logue, “David and I were very close young bucks.”
Logue: “Did David ever tease you?”
Bertie: “Oh yes, they all did. Father encouraged it. “Get it out boy.” He said it would make him stop. He said I was afraid of my father and you damn well are going to be afraid of me.”
Logue: “Are you actually right handed?”
Bertie: “No, I was punished and I used the right.”
Logue: “Yes, that is very common with stammers. Any other corrections?” Bertie – “Knock-knees, metal splints made, worn day and night.”
Logue: “Must have been painful?”
Bertie: “Bloody agony, straight legs now.”
Logue: “Who were you closest to growing up?”
Bertie: “Nannies, but not the first nanny. She loved David and hated me. When we were presented to my parents for the daily viewing, she would pinch me so I would cry and be handed back to her immediately. Then she wouldn’t feed me. Took my parents three years to notice. As you can imagine it caused some stomach problems.”
Logue: “What about your brother Johnny, were you close to him?”
Bertie: “Johnny, he was a sweet boy and he had epilepsy, he was different. He died at thirteen. I’m told it’s not catching. You’re the first ordinary person I have ever really spoken to.”
Prince Albert’s brother David becomes king once their father King George V dies, but the government and church are not happy with David’s morals. Albert tries to discuss the issues with his brother David, but he can’t get his words out.
Logue: “What is it about David, that makes you stop speaking?”
Bertie: “I know my place. I would do anything in my power to keep my brother on the throne, I am not an alternative for my brother.”
Logue: “You need not be governed by fear. What are you afraid of?”
Bertie becomes very angry with Logue and hurtful words are spoken: “I am the son of a king, the brother of a king and you are the disappointing son of a brewer.” They part ways for a time.
Logue ends up speaking to his wife about this secret client of his.
Logue: “He’s scared, afraid of his own shadow.”
Wife: “Isn’t that why they come to you?”
Logue: “This fellow could really be somebody great, he’s fighting me.”
David, King Edward, is eventually dethroned and Prince Albert becomes King George VI. He requests the aid of Logue to assist with the speeches he will be obligated to present. The movie ends with King George VI having to deliver a speech to Britain and its empire, as they enter into WWII. These were Logue’s words to Bertie before his speech: “You don’t need to be afraid of the things you were afraid of when you were five. You are very much your own man Bertie.” King George VI's speech was memorable, heartfelt and flawless.
Negative Aspects of Larch
• Lack confidence and self-esteem
• Feel incompetent or inadequate
• Doubt own abilities
• Fear of trying new things or taking risks
• Fear of failure, making fool of self, anxiety
• Often shy and inhibited, don’t like being the center of attention
• Inferiority complex, pay too great respect to authority figures and become willing subordinates
• Speech, communication problems, expressing themselves or using their voice can be difficult
• Lacking self-acceptance, have a negative belief of Self
Positive Aspects of Larch
• Self-confidence and self-esteem
• Feeling capable and open to taking risks
• Self-belief, more positive thoughts towards Self
• Calming effect, courage and perseverance
• The courage to communicate, to use ones voice and be heard
From the Flower Essence Repertory:
Larch helps those individuals who suffer from great self-doubt and poor self-esteem. The soul is lacking confidence and thus projects failure, poor performance and harsh judgment by others, far beyond the objective situation. They are afraid to try anything new or risky. The Larch essence particularly heals the throat, or communication. Many of those who need Larch are very closed down in this center, and may even have a physical affliction of the throat or other speaking impediments. Larch flower essence frees creative potential, giving renewed confidence and expressiveness. Larch impels the soul from a self-limiting to a self-transcending mode of behavior.
Prince Albert was called to be King George VI. This role requires him to speak to his people, triggering his fears and anxiety. He doesn’t feel adequate to the task. The positive aspects of Larch could assist him in overcoming his lack of confidence and self-esteem issues. Larch could bring courage and perseverance to the King to overcome his perceived limitations. It could empower the King to believe in himself, find his confident voice and speak consoling, reassuring words to his people during this difficult time in history. King George VI could be an image of hope for people to see that one can overcome difficulties.