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‘For a time he became a Hollywood figure,’ he says.
PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 3: Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies slides into third base during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on August 3, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
His father made huge sacrifices to give Lionel a step up in life.’ This background, Mark believes, helped shape his grandfather’s determined forward thinking character, although he hardly died a wealthy man. ‘He certainly never profited from his relationship with the King.’ They remained friendly until the King’s death.
‘In some ways they had a father-son relationship,’ Mark reflects.
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The results can be seen in a revealing documentary that extends Lionel’s story beyond the end of the film and gives the viewer access to the hitherto unseen letters and diaries. He says he first ‘met’ his grandfather on screen, in the form of Geoffrey Rush, who he also interviews in the documentary.We did have autographed photographs of the then Duke and Duchess of York, with Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, but I had no idea of the existence of an archive.’ That, in fact, had been guarded by Mark’s Uncle Valentine, before being passed onto Mark’s father after his death in the late 1990s.When Anthony died, it fell to Mark to become its custodian.‘Watching him in the film was a rather poignant, slightly other-worldly experience,’ he reflects.‘It doesn’t replace having met him for real, and I wish I had, but it was wonderful to hear my grandfather’s words being spoken by an Oscar-winning actor.’ Mark was born 13 years after Lionel died and says he knew very little about his royal links. ‘I knew he was the King’s speech therapist but my grandfather had kept his professional relationship with him quite secret, and as a result it wasn’t really discussed within the family.