The man from north Norfolk who heard the King’s Speech first-hand

Millions have seen his infamous stammer and speech problems portrayed on screen - but a Norfolk man who was tasked with guarding the Royal family in the late 1930s and early 1940s has revealed all about the night he heard the 'King's Speech' first hand from the man himself.

Larry Lamb, 94, from Barton Turf near Stalham, has never disclosed before about the night in 1939, when he heard King George VI practising his Christmas speech, but says he was prompted to tell his story after going to see the latest blockbuster The King's Speech, a couple of weeks ago in Cromer.

The film explores how speech therapist Lionel Logue helped George VI - who took over as King in 1936 after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated - with his stammer, which he had been getting help to try and overcome since the early 1920s.

Mr Lamb, who joined the police force in 1937, and was stationed first to Cromer, and then Neatishead, however was lucky enough to hear the King practising a speech first-hand one night, while he was on guard duty at Sandringham.

It was just before Christmas, when Mr Lamb, who was in his early 20s and was on afternoon and night duty, heard the King practising a speech.


You may also want to watch:


He said: 'I was on duty, and you were not allowed to pass in front of the windows during the day, because you may have seen the family inside, but you could at night, you could go all the way around the perimeter of the house.

'I was walking past the window, past a room that faced the Norwich gate at Sandringham, I am not sure if it was a study or not, but it was a large room, and as I walked past I could hear him speaking, I could hear it very clearly as his voice was slightly raised.

Most Read

'He stuttered a bit, but in general he was making a good job of it.'

Mr Lamb, who since moving to Barton Turf 40 years ago has been active on several parish councils and with the local church, continued his guard duty, but said he heard the King going over and over the speech for at least two hours, making sure it was perfect.

He said; 'He said it so much I was able to memorise the quotation from it - 'give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown''.

The speech and quotation Mr Lamb heard was from the poem, The Gate of the Year, and was used in the Christmas address the King made to the nation that year, although Mr Lamb said he never told his fellow policemen what he had heard for fear of being reprimanded by his superiors for listening in on the King.

It was in 1939 that Mr Lamb was first selected for guard duty at Sandringham, guarding the Royal family while they stayed there over Christmas.

Mr Lamb, who has three children, 13 grand-children, and is also a great-grandfather, was born and bred in Norfolk and grew up in Gorleston. After leaving school he worked in an outfitters and also in an infirmary for a short while, before deciding he wanted to 'see a bit more to life' so he joined the police force in 1937.

He reveals he still does not know why he was chosen for Royal guard duty, but says it could have something to do with his height.

Mr Lamb, said: 'There were several policemen called up for guard duty for the Royal family because they had been in the army before joining the police force. The other thing was you had to be six foot, and I am six foot three inches.'

After that first occasion in 1939, he went on to serve on Guard duty for the Royal family each shooting season in October and at Christmas time, until 1942, which was when he left the police to join the Navy.

Speaking about actor Colin Firth, who is tipped for an Oscar and has won a Golden Globe award for his role as the King in the film, The King's Speech, Mr Lamb said he thought he had managed to portray the King 'quite well' in the film, but was disappointed the speech he had heard the real King practising, was not featured in the film.

He also revealed how the King himself was a man of few words.

He said: 'The King would often pass you when the family went out walking and would not say a word, but the Queen would always stop and ask if we policemen were getting enough drinks, she was quite concerned for our welfare.'

It will be 59 years since King George VI died, at Sandringham, this Sunday . For a picture archive from the time, see Saturday's EDP.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus