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Bertie and Elizabeth (2002)

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


Giles Foster


Nigel Williams




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Wilby ... Bertie
Alan Bates ... King George V
Eileen Atkins ... Queen Mary
Dolly Wells ... Princess Mary
William Mickleburgh ... James Stuart
Juliet Aubrey ... Elizabeth
Barbara Leigh-Hunt ... Lady Mabell Airlie
Rupert Wickham Rupert Wickham ... Equerry
Charles Edwards ... David
Alexandra Staden ... Young Woman
Nicholas Pritchard Nicholas Pritchard ... J.C. Davidson
Oliver Ford Davies ... Archbishop Lang
Geoffrey Beevers Geoffrey Beevers ... Earl of Strathmore
Deborah Cornelius ... Thelma Furness
Michael Elwyn ... Lionel Logue


The Duke of York, nicknamed "Bertie" (James Wilby), 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 (Juliet Aubrey), and their daughters, in the shadow of their reigning father, George V (Sir Alan Bates), and next that of his elder brother, who later succeeded to the British throne as Edward VIII. However, Edward decides to put his love for divorced American, Wallis Simpson (Amber Sealey), above dynastic duty, and ends up abdicating the throne, which falls to Bertie, who reigns as King George VI. He expects to be, as constitutional monarch, little more then a figure head, but again, fate has other ideas: Nazi Germany proves to be 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 ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Did You Know?


Tommy Lascelles (Paul Brooke) is depicted as the Private Secretary to Bertie from the start of his reign, and certainly from the beginning of the war. In fact, though he had been an Assistant Private Secretary since shortly before King George V's death, he was only promoted to the full role (directly dealing with the King and his boxes, for example) as late in the War as 1943. He remained at post for the rest of the King's reign, several years after retirement age, and into Elizabeth II's first year as Queen. It's best to think of the role as combining two real-life people (Sir Alec Hardinge and Sir Alan "Tommy" Lascelles) into one. See more »


At the scene where Bertie and Elizabeth are dining with Bertie's family, the napkin King George V uses changes position. When Queen Mary finishes her line "There was an unfortunate photograph of you in the newspapers the other day, wearing what they described as 'bell bottoms'. They won't do!" As the Queen Mary is saying this line, the King appears to produce a hankie in disgust at his son's behavior. But in the next shot, the handkerchief in his hand appears to change both material and position. See more »


Young Lillibet: [the family have been listening to Edward VIII's abdication speech] So... you're king?
King George VI, aka 'Bertie': It rather looks as if I am.
Young Margaret: Will we have to move?
See more »


Featured in The Story of the Costume Drama: The Stars (2008) 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 »

User Reviews

Charming, historically inaccurate romance
6 September 2007 | by irish23See all my reviews

If you want historical accuracy, look elsewhere. Fact, distortion, omission, and plain fiction are so interwoven in this picture that I almost wanted to see a disclaimer at the start of the film.

However! If you can chuck all that aside and just focus on the film itself, it's a charming, sweet, no-brainer movie with uplifting moments tossed in.

The portrayal of the struggles between David and Bertie, who'd always been close, after the arrival of Wallis, is the most "poison pill" version I've seen. David is portrayed as a flat-out cad, while Wallis is a scheming, grasping "rhymes-with-'itch.'" The devastation of Bertie and the poise of Elizabeth are in sharp contrast to the "bad couple."

This is just one example of how the writers used elements to highlight the tremendous tension between public and private royal life in the 20th century, and how personal feelings *must* be sacrificed to duty. Obviously, this dynamic still plays out in the 21st century.

What shines through above all in this picture is the love between Bertie and Elizabeth. As such, it is a charming romance film with some lovely costumes and sets, and some moving historical references thrown in. The steadfastness of B & E's relationship, and how it allowed both of them to survive some of the most crushing episodes of their lives, is inspiring to watch.

And then one wants to grab a book to find out what *really* happened. :-)

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Official Sites:

PBS [United States]





Release Date:

4 June 2002 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Bertie and Elizabeth See more »

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