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Bertie and Elizabeth (2002)

A chronicle of the life of George VI, who was forced to become King following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII, and his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stuart
Lady Mabell Airlie
Young Woman
Nicholas Pritchard ...
J.C. Davidson
Geoffrey Beevers ...
Earl of Strathmore


The duke of York, nicknamed Bertie, was born as royal 'spare heir', younger brother to the prince of Wales, and thus expected to spend a relatively private life with his Scottish wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and their daughters, in the shadow of their reigning father, George V, and next that of his elder brother, who succeeded to the British throne as Edward VIII. However, Edward decides to put his love for a divorced American, Wallis Simpson, above dynastic duty, and ends up abdicating the throne, which falls to Bertie, who reigns as George VI. He expects to be, as constitutional monarch, little more then a figure head, but again fate has other ideas: Nazi Germany proves such a formidable war challenger to the British Empire that the desperate nation looks to the royal couple as a comforting symbol of its unbroken spirit, a part they play with great success, while hosting chased monarchs and governments from continental Europe. After victory, life returns to normal, but pulmonary ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

4 June 2002 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Bertie e Elizabeth  »

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Did You Know?


In a career rarity, Robert Hardy appears in this film, but not as British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Instead, he plays Churchill's counterpart, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. See more »


When Queen Mary said that the last commoner to marry into the Royal Family was Anne Boleyn, this was incorrect. Prince George (later King George IV) secretly married a commoner Maria Fitzherbert, although this marriage was ruled invalid and illegal. His younger brother Prince Augustus Frederick had two wives, both minor noblewomen. James II was married to Anne Hyde in 1660. Even Henry VIII's later wives Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr were of similar non-royal status as Anne Boleyn. See more »


[talking at dinner about the forthcoming marriage of Bertie and Elizabeth]
Archbishop Lang: My feeling, Sir, is that the wedding of these two young people - the Duke and Duchess of York - should be filmed, if that is thought appropriate, but not be allowed to be recorded over the wireless. The people might listen to it in *inappropriate* places.
King George VI, aka 'Bertie': What exactly do you mean by that?
Archbishop Lang: Public houses, for example. They might also not remove their hats at solemn moments.
David - Edward VIII: [scornfully] Why this obsession with ritual?
King George V: ...
See more »


Follows Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978) See more »


If You Were the Only Girl (In the World)
Music by Nat Ayer (as Nat D. Ayer)
Lyrics by Clifford Grey
See more »

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User Reviews

Wasted opportunity
30 March 2003 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

You're right folks, this really was below par. I now know why it went straight to cable. Yet it wasn't for lack of acting talent. James Wilby was excellent as the shy and fearful Bertie, thrust onto the throne by his brother David's abdication, and Juliet Aubrey was fine as Elizabeth. Alan Bates harrumphs splendidly as George V and Eileen Atkins, although too old for the role, carries off Queen Mary in a sympathetic manner. Charles Edwards as Edward VIII (`David') has plenty of presence and Paul Brook is superb as private secretary Tommy Lascelles. So what went wrong?

The scriptwriters clearly set out not to offend anybody living, and while Elizabeth the Queen mother died in 2001 her daughter is very much alive and occupying a position of some importance. They were so careful in fact that Prince Philip, always good for some boorish misunderstanding, does not even appear. Neither does his conniving uncle Dickie Mountbatten, though he is mentioned in the dialogue. The enmity between Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson is merely hinted at. But the real problem is the failure to identify the strong elements in the story, the courtship/ wedding, the abdication and the war and write around them, instead of putting the whole thing together as a sort of photo album. Maybe as another commenter says, the mini-series format would have been better, though it might have just created a longer mess.

If you really want to know about the history of the early Windsors, you are going to have to read some books. Edward VIII wrote his account in `A King's Story' published in the early 1950s. He blames Baldwin for forcing him out but makes it clear that he had little difficulty in choosing between love and duty. Poor old Bertie had no such choice and was saddled with the extra burden of being King during wartime. His father describes himself and Edward as `ordinary men' and Bertie, like most of the hereditary aristocrats of Britain was deeply ordinary (and interested mainly in country pursuits). The most remarkable thing about Bertie was the way he overcame his stutter (especially over `B' words). It would have been interesting to know how this was done, but though the stutter gets some attention we are hustled out of the (Australian) therapist's rooms just as the treatment starts.

So, more or less a waste of space. There's been plenty of attention given to `David' before, but this show fails to give a new perspective to the historical events it so lightly covers. A great pity the Queen Mum never wrote her memoirs – now that would have been interesting.

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