Given the immense worldwide success of The King's Speech, I thought that there would be a whole bandwagon regarding King's-Speech-crossed-with-Hetalia to jump on.
But there is not.
So I had to make it myself.
(Beware of loose wheels and cracked axles.)
King and Country
"I'm not going." England gathers his papers from Churchill's desk and begins to chase them into order, not meeting his intense gaze. "I haven't the time for this. None of us have."
"But it's important." Churchill taps his cigar against the lip of the glass ashtray and the silver end crumbles off and into the dish like a landslide. "I think you ought to attend."
"To support him? England mocks. "I'm sure he's got quite enough pet poodles to fawn about him, to clap him on the back and tell him jolly well done." He shakes his head. "You know I've no patience with the monarchy these days. By all means keep them – but don't expect me to kneel before them. I am not his servant. Contrarily, he is mine, as all the others have been."
"This is not about him," Churchill counters calmly.
"I beg to differ," England mutters.
"It is about your people. His subjects. Our land and the need to protect it."
"It's already been done!" England argues. "Only this morning, in fact. Chamberlain announced that we were at war with that bloody Kraut again, didn't he? Why this now? What good will it do? We're at war whether darling Bertie painfully stammers through it or not." He scowls. "And what of me? Have I no voice of my own that I need some bloody quarter-German royal who can barely string three words together to take up the task for me?"
Churchill gives a wry smile from his seat on the other side of the desk.
"All these years and still you've no concept of pity, have you?" he observes around his cigar. "No inkling at all of compassion or kindness."
"Not in the human sense, no," England agrees. "But then, I'm not human. You can't possibly expect me to sympathise with a king not cut out for his position. I'm a nation. To me, a king is a king. I don't care if he was in tears as he ascended the throne. All that matters to me is that he does his duty as it should be done."
"This is his duty."
"Well, I fully expect him to balls it up the way he does everything else," England says coldly. He glances at his First Lord of the Admiralty – they are good friends, or perhaps as close to friends as a politician can be with his country, but nonetheless there is ever the rift that humanity and mortality puts between them. "Don't you?"
Churchill's smile deepens.
"I have great faith in His Majesty tonight," he concedes. "I think he will do you proud."
"I am not his parent," he replies coldly. "And you needn't look so scandalised. You know perfectly well that this is how we all are. Not a single one of us has a scrap of human feeling. Lucky for Bertie that we are past the age of executing our monarchs."
"On what grounds would you have him hanged?" Churchill asks amusedly.
"Being tiresome. I cannot stand to listen to him." England looks exasperated. "Why can he not just speak as others do?"
"It is a speech impediment," he says. "It is difficult for even people to understand. Why can he not speak even though he desperately wants to say the words? It is very strange, isn't it?"
"I've no time for it."
"That's because you don't understand that we cannot all be Shakespeare."
"Nor do I want to."
"Nor do you care to."
"I suppose I can't argue with that," he says lightly.
Churchill gives a slow nod.
"Then," he agrees, "you do know what it is to have no words to defend yourself with."
England is getting changed when the speech begins; swapping out his prim-and-proper suit saved for sipping tea with the soul-suckers in parliament for the drab dirty-green of military attire.
He doesn't have the radio on but the officers gathered in the next room do, the whole War Office falling completely silent beneath its crackling spell; even the walls of the old building, one which has known a great many wars prior to this one, seem to still themselves in anticipation.
England – Great Britain, United Kingdom, His Majesty's precious claim – continues to dress himself for war.
"Sir." A junior officer knocks and leans around the door. "The king's speech is starting, sir."
"I fail to be stirred even slightly," England replies coldly, buttoning his shirt.
"It hasn't begun yet, sir."
"I will remain unstirred, I assure you. I respond to declarations of war, not excuses for it – nor prayers because of it."
The officer says nothing, retreating; he leaves the door open and England hears the BBC announcer more clearly than ever through the gap.
A pause. It goes on for moments. England gives a derisive snort as he reaches for his tie. A bloody embarrassment, that's what it is; France will comment on it over drinks at the front and Germany will sneer about it on the field.
As Churchill puts my land to the sword's edge, so do you put my pride, Albert.
"In this grave hour—" A pause even there. England buttons his jacket and straightens his tie. He doesn't understand. He's not human and he doesn't understand human weaknesses.
The hard part is over. Chamberlain already took care of that, telling all the young men of the land that they would soon be heading out to die. Does Bertie really think that his halting apology for the awfully rotten luck of it all will make them any more enthusiastic about doing so?
"For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war."
Facts, facts, bleeding boring facts. England buckles his belt and loops it over his shoulder as the king lists the ways in which they have tried to avoid another war. Sam Browne belt. It's supposed to hold a sword. Nobody carries a sword in the British Army anymore, not in this day and age. It's another stupid impractical unneeded thing just for show. Just because. He feels no more or less eager to punch Germany in the face just because he's wearing it.
"—But it has been in vain." England picks up his hat as he goes to the doorway and glances into the next room; he puts it on and goes unnoticed by the men clustered around the tinny wireless.
They are enraptured by the king's speech.
England listens properly for a moment. There are hesitations – but the king is not struggling, not stammering, not sinking.
He has worked hard on this. England realises it as he looks at the officers – his people, Englishmen, Britons willing to give their blood in the name of King and Country – bunched close around the radio, listening to every word. Every difficult, laborious, victorious word. He has worked hard to serve his subjects and to serve me.
It is not the first time that England has felt something stir in him for one of his monarchs. He willingly knelt before Victoria, his Empress-Queen. He nodded to Charles II when the young king came back blackened with soot after helping to put out the Great Fire of London. He allowed Elizabeth to declare herself married to him and kissed her hand as one might do unto his wife.
Bertie is not the first to be great – nor is he the greatest.
But he has, for the first time ever – in this, what he declared a grave hour – spellbound his audience. England can feel it. It is not just here in this tiny War Office room in Whitehall, it is all throughout London, throughout the rest of the English landmass, in Scotland and Wales and Ireland, in all the British colonies and Commonwealth nations – Australia, Canada, Malta, India, New Zealand, Gibraltar, Bermuda. They are all listening.
"Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of nations would be in danger."
And he is speaking to them.
"But far more than this, the peoples of the world would be kept in the bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of the security of justice and liberty among nations would be ended."
England pulls the heavy War Office door shut behind him as he steps down into the street; the length of Whitehall both ways is quiet and deserted but he can hear the speech on the silent air, broadcast from speakers and open windows. It permeates every inch of London, echoing in the sky like the clear drift of clouds.
England begins walking. London presses back beneath his army-issue boots, pushing him onwards. He should have gone, really, his pride, his unkindness, be damned. He was invited; first on the list after the queen consort and the speech therapist, naturally.
"This is the ultimate issue which confronts us. For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge."
Well said. He should have gone. He starts running as he cuts down Downing Street. He is no worse than any of the other nations in his impatience with humans and their failings but he should have gone. Well said indeed.
Unthinkable. A good word – a good choice. The king hesitates just before it but he gets it out a moment later and the population agrees. England can feel it. They agree with everything he is saying. They are ready to fight.
"It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my peoples across the seas, who will make our cause their own."
The pauses are still there but seem tailored especially for the speech. They work. He makes them work. England recalls how Churchill drawls out some words and thinks that that works, too. It all works.
England can cross London far quicker than any of his people ever could; its structure bends to him, its streets shift for him. He does not understand humans all that much because he does not experience the world in the same way as them – and yet London does not fall silent at his command as it has done now.
"I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial."
There is a crowd outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and not a whisper passes between any of them. The loudspeakers on the gates carry the king's speech out to them and they cluster and listen and barely breathe just as the officers did.
"The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God."
England gets into the crowd and finds himself lost in it, the gap closing behind him. He is amongst his people as king asks them to fight for him; amidst them, nameless and faceless, just another one of the crowd as they all push up together outside those proud gates. He is within them as his king invokes their loyalty to his name, asking them to swear their cause to protect him to God.
"If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God's help, we shall prevail."
Yes, we will. There is a murmuring of agreement in the crowd and throughout the nation that England feels ripple through him. We shall prevail as we did before.
"May He bless and keep us all."
bless us keep us god save the king st george wasn't a saint for no reason now was he?
Silence. The speech is over.
The king comes out to the balcony with his wife and two young daughters to wave to his subjects. England has always hated contrived displays like that, the fake little wave from the elevated position sort of thing, and he's not going to flap his arms and cheer and weep.
He takes off his hat as a mark of respect and he's sure the king meets his gaze when he does so.
"I bowed to him," England admits in a low voice, nursing his crystal glass of brandy. "Don't tell anyone."
Churchill gives a sage nod.
"You'd have made less of an impact, I suppose, had you merely come over in the car with me."
"Hmm." England scowls. "I'll have you know that pride is a difficult ailment to cure."
"I doubt it's any less curable than a stammer."
"Piss off – I'm not in the mood."
"Your mood is soured by the war."
"Isn't that excusable?"
"Of course it is." He pauses, lighting a cigar. "That said, your behaviour earlier was quite appalling. Were you that worried?"
"I thought..." England sighs. "...I thought that he would fuck it up and make everyone think that the whole thing was a joke – or not something to take seriously, at least, if he couldn't be coherent enough about it when addressing millions worldwide. But I know that he worked very hard on it to ensure that they would understand that he was asking them to protect me no matter the cost."
"Of course. He has no wish to make his England bleed – even if he cannot be Shakespeare."
"He said that to me. That exact quote. He recited Shakespeare to help him overcome the stammer, he said, and that was one of the passages he used."
"Exactly." England smiles tiredly. The war will not be easy. But Britain is ready. "Spoken like a king."
Actually, that Henry V segment was used specifically for irony: the full quote is "...That they lost France and made his England bleed". France, of course, fell to the Nazis in June, 1940.
Churchill is not the Prime Minister in this, btdubs – he didn't become Prime Minister until 1940.
St George is the patron saint of (Merrie) England.
Given that, as much as I loved the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie, I criticised it for a similar mistake (the distance between the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge), I have to admit to a timing inaccuracy that I ignored for what we might refer to as DRAMA. Quite simply, you could not possibly get from the old War Office (on Whitehall) to Buckingham Palace in under five minutes (the king's speech was something like five minutes and forty seconds long). It's actually about a twenty minute walk, mostly because St James' Park is in the way – it might be fifteen if you ran it.
Hence my artistic liscense. idk. England is England. He can probably get anywhere he wants in Britain without having to take the bus. XD (And the same for France, America, Germany, etc, in their own countries. Conventional forms of transport are for peasants.)
And now to sit back and wait for The King's Speech to clean out the Oscars. Go Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter! =)
Post-Oscars edit: We pwned those Oscars! Shame about Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush missing out, but it wasn't a bad haul nonetheless. XD