Andy Rooney: The King and I

Andy Rooney Recalls Meeting King George VI

I don't go to the movies very often. But, recently, I saw "The King's Speech," and it reminded me of something I actually lived through during World War II.

The movie is the story of King George VI of England, who was crowned King of England after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII. The King was smart but he stammered badly. In the movie the King is helped by an Australian speech therapist.

Well, I was a correspondent for the Army newspaper "The Stars and Stripes" during World War II. I made a lot of friends in the news business and one was the great war correspondent Homer Bigart who worked for "The New York Herald Tribune." Homer, like King George VI, had a terrible speech impediment; he stuttered and stammered whenever he tried to say anything.

A number of reporters including Homer and myself were in North Africa in 1943 covering the visit of King George to troops there.

How many people today can say that they met King George VI?

Well, the King was reviewing the British and American troops that day and a bunch of reporters were told to assemble in the British Officers Club where we would be greeted by the King himself. I was one of those men.

Homer and I were on line as the King greeted each correspondent.
He walked up to the first man on the line and said: "How..how..how...da..da..do..you.you do? Who--who---whom--da--da--do--you--rep--represent? The reporter answered and the King haltingly asked the next man on line the same question.

Then he asked me and I answered; the next person on line was Homer Bigart and I was dreading his answer. The King greeted him and asked Homer "How--how--are--are--ya ya you?" But before Homer could answer, the King moved down the line to greet the next reporter.

Later Homer, who had a great sense of humor said "It's a ga..ga--goddamn..good..thing. There ca...ca..could have..ba been an..inter..international..in..incident."

I like movies that remind me of something I know about.


Written by Andy Rooney
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