For Albert "Bertie" Frederick Arthur George, the Duke of York who would become Great Britain's King George VI just prior to the start of World War II, the act of speaking was a death struggle between him and the words he was trying to say. Crippled by a stammer for as long as he could remember – the result of a brutal royal family upbringing that included forced right-handedness, leg splints, and nothing more than a "daily viewing" with his parents – Bertie could not get through a sentence without a Herculean effort to subdue the syllables that refused to cooperate.
When you are the Duke of York, second in line for the throne, one can see how this would be a serious problem. As his wife puts it with impeccable English understatement in Tom Hooper's The King's Speech, "his job requires a bit of public speaking." Every speech doctor in the realm has had a go, to no avail. Bertie's ready to give up, but the wife finds one last hope: an unconventional therapist in a seedy part of town who seems, somehow, to have a clear view of the mental blocks and hang-ups that make up Bertie's impediment.