DID YOU KNOW… that Ed Sheeran, who performed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on February 2, 2022, is a person who stutters, just like the Queen’s father, King George VI?

In a June 2015 honorary speech, Sheeran shared what he felt was the hardest part about dealing with a stutter: “The thing that I found most difficult about it was knowing what to say but not really being able to express it in the right way.” For years, Sheeran tried a variety of speech therapies to help with his stuttering, but it was memorizing music that he said helped him effectively remedy his stutter. “I got heavily into music at a young age, and got very, very into rap music,” Sheeran said. “Eminem was the first album that my dad bought me. He bought me the Marshall Mathers LP when I was nine years old, not knowing what was on it. And he let me listen to it, and I learned every word of it back to front by the age I was 10.”

Sheeran elaborated on listening to Eminem’s music on repeat, saying, “he raps very fast and very melodically, and very percussively, and it helped me get rid of the stutter.” The singer told the audience to embrace their inner weirdness: “Just be yourself. Embrace your quirks.” Sheeran then shared his advice for coping with stuttering with the audience: “Work through it and get the treatment that you want to get, but … don’t see it as a plight on your life and carry on pushing forward.”

In an interview with ABC News, Sheeran talked about how kids often worry about fitting in, but that, “the moment you stop trying to fit in is when stuff fits around you.”

The difficulties King George VI faced with stuttering are well known to many. In November 2010, worldwide movie audiences were presented with a most interesting and unusual movie release with The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth as King George VI and Helena Bonham Carter as his wife Elizabeth.

Unfortunately, history may have forgotten the courageous and inspiring story of Prince Albert who stuttered badly and never dreamed that he would ever be king when his older brother, King Edward VIII, abruptly abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.

In an interview after the completion of the filming of The King’s Speech, producer Iain Canning said, “His brother was famously charming and Bertie was considered the dull-witted one with little charisma.” When Prince Albert, who was known as Bertie, ascended to the throne to become King George VI, it is an understatement to say that his life changed drastically.

The film deals solely with George VI’s stuttering and his relationship with Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist retained by the Prince to help him overcome his stuttering in the years before, during and after the 1936 abdication by his older brother. While countless other movies have had characters who stutter, this is the first one to focus on the lead character’s stuttering and speech therapy.

Like many people who stutter, Prince Albert had met with failure in several speech programs. When Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush in the movie, saw the Prince give a speech in public, he turned to his son and said, “He’s too old for me to manage a complete cure. But I could very nearly do it. I’m sure of that.”

Stuttering remains a part of British royal history, and the connection between Ed Sheeran’s appearance at Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee must have been a comfort for the Queen, when remembering the hope and inspiration her late father had given to her beloved country during their time of crisis.

From the Fall 2022 Magazine