A letter from King George VI to his speech therapist has sold at auction for £76,250.
The letter was written at Windsor Castle and was sold with a silver-gilt cigarette case by auctioneers Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury.
The newly-crowned king wrote to Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist who had been helping him manage his stutter, five days after his coronation, on 17 May to say: “You know how anxious I was to get my responses right in the abbey, but my mind was finally set at ease tonight. Not a moment’s hesitation or mistake!”
King George VI continued, thanking Logue “not only for your invaluable help with my speech, but for your devoted friendship and encouragement,” and included the cigarette case with his royal cypher as a token of gratitude.
The story of King George VI and Lionel Logue was told in the 2010 film The King’s Speech, which may have contributed to the interest in the sale.
“The past few months have seen interest in this lot build and build, and people were even more eager when we were finally able to reschedule the sale date for 23 July,” said Rupert Slingsby, a silver specialist with Woolley and Wallis.
“The story behind the cigarette case and the letter is remarkable, and this is a truly unique item and a fascinating part of the history of the British Royal Family.”
According to Slingsby: “We believe this letter is the only example written to Logue by George VI which has not been retained by the Logue family. When Lionel Logue died in April 1953, both the case and the letter were given to his younger brother, Herbert. In August of the same year, Herbert gave both to an Australian jeweller in lieu of a payment of £27 (about £1,300 today), which was owed for a graduated pearl necklace with a sapphire and diamond clasp.”
The winner was a private buyer in the UK, but other bidders included Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Australia, where Lionel Logue studied; Wartski Ltd, the London jewellers of The Queen and Prince Charles; and telephone bidders.