The film has been a triumph for the British Film Industry. Best Film and Best British Film at the (British) Baftas 2011 (plus five other awards). Best Film at the (US) Oscars 2011 (plus three other awards).
Colin Firth, who plays King George VI, gained Best Actor on both sides of the Atlantic. But within all those who saw the film the inner award goes to the King himself – the father of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – who overcame a serious stutter with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist who had no formal qualifications.
The film ends with King George VI making a broadcast in September 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War – and doing so quite remarkably because of the painful process involved and not despite it.
How interesting to see that Jersey Archive, the Island’s repository for all its historic documents, has found and put on display a copy, signed by the King, of the speech that he gave to Islanders at a States Assembly when he visited Jersey within days of the end of the Second World War.
But another “king’s speech” is on record from AD 33. This speech was not given to a nation, let alone an Island. It was given to only twelve men.
The speech was given at a time of impending human crisis of great significance. Within a few hours Jesus Christ would be hanging on a cross.
Jesus knew this. Note carefully his speech in red. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.
He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean [Greek, literally, “totally pure”]. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?”
In his last speech to his own students he asks if they have understood his actions. Do they understand that he “laid aside his garments” for them? Do they understand that he “took a towel” for them? Do they understand that he “tied” around himself that lowest-of-the-low-servant’s-towel for them? Do they understand that he “poured” out his very own water-of-life to wash them pure? And returned to his place for them....
And do we understand that, “If I do not wash you, you have no share in me?” No share? No share in Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Son of God?
Do we understand THE King’s last Speech that day? And his actions that speak louder than words?
“Not all of you are clean.” Not all are true Christians who believe in Jesus. Only those washed pure by him.