First Broadcast by British Monarch
George V made his first radio broadcast on St George’s Day 1924, at the opening of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. He was preceded by his son and heir, Edward Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII , whose delivery and voice on the historic recording are remarkably reminiscent of the current Prince of Wales , confident and easy if less than inspiring. George V, in contrast, speaks with the cadence of an ageing and almost comic cleric giving a sermon, yet his sentiments do manage to inspire, hoping the event “May conduce to the unity and prosperity of all my peoples and to the peace and well-being of all the world.” With poignant understatement, after mentioning the problems caused in setting up the exhibition by the preceding exceptionally bad winter the King talks of the ‘disorganization’ occasioned by the recent war.
George V realised the importance of the new medium of radio to the royal family, something brought out in the recent Colin Firth film The King’s Speech (which begins with the future George VI’s speech at the closure of the Empire Exhibition the following year).
So significant was this first royal venture into broadcasting that around Britain many on this Wednesday stopped work to listen to it, huddled in groups around the radio sets that were still far from common – it is thought perhaps 10 million managed to hear the speeches.
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