How a King's Speech Laid Bare His Fear and Fatigue

Daily Mail (London), February 19, 2011 | Go to article overview

How a King's Speech Laid Bare His Fear and Fatigue


Byline: Jim McBeth

IT was the king's speech falteringly delivered by a monarch burdened by fear and the weight of history.

But unlike his successor George VI, there was no kindly therapist to help Charles II speak with dignity to his people as he nervously read out his apology to Scots noblemen in a bid to save his kingdom.

Three centuries earlier, Charles' speech had been one of abject capitulation to religious zealots who had demanded a high price in exchange for returning his crown.

Now the speech, written and then delivered by the king in Perth in 1650, is going under the hammer.

The king's plea, written in his own hand down the side of one page and folded to make it easier to deliver, was a grovelling apology to the Scottish parliament for trying to escape its control. The king's handwriting shows signs of exhaustion and fear in a 20-yearold man who knew that without the 'Covenanters' his kingdom was lost.

The parliament had declared Charles the King of Great Britain after the execution of his father Charles I in 1649.

In June 1650 he arrived in Scotland, a land dominated by Protestants determined to spread Presbyterianism throughout Britain.

Charles was forced to accept this as a condition of support against Oliver Cromwell.

But in September 1650, Cromwell's New Model Army routed the Covenanters at the Battle of Dunbar, near Edinburgh.

Charles and the defeated host retreated to Perth, where he soon wearied of the incessant demands of the Covenanters. He was required to denounce his parents and renounce a treaty he had made with Ireland.

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