"I believe what prevents men from accepting the homeopathic principles is ignorance, but ignorance is criminal when human lives are at stake. No honest man faced with the facts of homeopathy can refuse to accept it. He has no choice. When I had to face it, I had to become a follower. There was no choice if I were to continue to be an honest man. ... Truth always demands adherence and offers no alternative."
--Sir John Weir, physician to King George VI and to four generations of British monarchs
The Academy Award-winning film of the year, "The King's Speech", depicts the compelling story of King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Lionel Logue was neither a physician nor a conventional speech therapist, but his treatment strategies were impressively successful. What is less well known is that King George VI received homeopathic treatment concurrent with his speech therapy and that the King was deeply appreciative to homeopathy and his homeopath.
The British Royal Family has been known for being exceedingly conservative and embodying traditional ideals of family and public service, but they are also known to have special appreciation and even advocacy for certain unconventional treatments that really worked, whether conventional medicine accepted them or not. Such were their experiences with Mr. Logue's speech therapy and the respected and widely practiced, but often misunderstood science and art of homeopathic medicine.
King George VI was neither the first nor the last of the British royals to use and benefit from homeopathy. Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), wife of King William IV, first made public her special interest in this "new medicine" in 1835. Other British aristocrats shared the queen's interests, including the Marquess of Anglesey who crossed the British Channel to go to Paris for treatment by the founder of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843).
Queen Adelaide had been suffering from a serious malady that the court physicians couldn't cure. The queen called for the services of one of Hahnemann's oldest and most faithful colleagues, Dr. Johann Ernst Stapf (1788-1860), who cured her, creating the first of many supporters of homeopathy among British royalty.
Various kings and queens of Great Britain since Queen Adelaide have openly sought medical care from homeopathic physicians. Queen Victoria (1837-1901) was treated by Dr Frederick Quin, the personal physician/homeopath to Prince Leopold of the Belgians, who was the great uncle of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's much loved husband. A recent popular movie, "Young Victoria," chronicled their love affair.
Princess Mary, who later became Queen Mary (1865-1953), wife of King George V, headed the fundraising efforts to move and expand the London Homeopathic Hospital. King George V (1865-1936) was appreciative of homeopathy because it provided him with the practical benefit of treating his seasickness, a condition that he tended to experience because he was so fond of sailing.
King George V was known to have treated for this condition with Tabacum, a homeopathic dose of tobacco that was prescribed by his homeopathic doctor, Dr Sir John Weir (1879-1971).(1) Because smoking of tobacco is known to cause symptoms of dizziness and nausea, homeopathic doses of this medicine can help to relieve common symptoms experienced with seasickness.
During more recent times, a study published in a medical journal published by the American Medical Association found that Cocculus compositum (aka Vertigoheel, a mixture or formula of homeopathic medicines) was as effective as a conventional drug for dizziness...and was safer.(2) This study showed that homeopathic treatment showed a clinically relevant reduction in the mean frequency, duration, and intensity of vertigo (dizziness) attacks.
Ironically, his son, who later became King George VI (1895-1952), had a completely different experience with tobacco. In contrast, he was chronically addicted to tobacco which led to his early death. Still, King George VI was appreciative enough of homeopathy that he named a prize racehorse Hypericum, after a notable homeopathic medicine for injury to nerves.
King George VI was an expert user of homeopathic medicine, and in 1948 he showed his profound appreciation for this system of medicine by granting royal title to the London Homeopathic Hospital. It was deemed the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital for many decades, until 2010, when its name was changed to become the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine.
The wife of King George VI was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002), who bore two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon become known as 'Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother,' to differentiate her from her daughter today's Queen Elizabeth II (1926- )
The Queen Mother was particularly appreciative of the homeopathic medicine, Arnica. She asserted, "I think Arnica is the most marvelous medicine and every doctor, including those not trained in homeopathy, should use Arnica." She realized that some people are skeptical of homeopathy, but she knew that such skepticism was common in people who didn't understand homeopathy or had simply not used it. She commonly used Arnica on her dogs whenever they injured themselves and encouraged her friends to use it.
Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952 and has been a long-time patron to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, which underwent a $35 million refurbishing in 2005. When Queen Elizabeth II visited the Hospital in 2000, she looked straight at the picture of Sir John Weir, who was his homeopathic physician, and said "he did a lot of good for my father." To keep up with the times, in 2010, this hospital changed its name to Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine.
The early growth of homeopathy in Britain in the mid-1800s became possible in large part through royal support and British aristocracy. The first British homeopath to British royalty, Dr. Frederick Quin, was a son of the Duchess of Devonshire (1765-1824), and thus himself an aristocrat. When Quin began his full-time homeopathic practice in London in 1832, he primarily treated members of his own noble class.
Today, the homeopath to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Dr. Peter Fisher, who is also medical director of the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine.
Other European Monarchs' Love for Homeopathy
Ultimately, Sir John Weir was not only the homeopathic physician to King George VI, he also provided homeopathic treatment for six other monarchs, including King Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, George VI, Elizabeth II, King Gustav V of Sweden (1858-1950), and King Haakon VII of Norway (1872-1957).(3)
It is worthy of note that British royalty were not the only nobles to embrace and advocate for homeopathy. In the mid-19th century, a remarkable 77 homeopathic physicians served as the personal physicians to monarchs and their families.(4) More detail about these physicians and their treatment of various monarchs are readily available.(5)
Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie of France were known advocates of homeopathy, and in fact, Napoleon III bestowed the Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honor upon his family's homeopathic physician, Dr. A.J. Davet, as well as upon Dr. Alexandre Charge for his remarkable results using homeopathic medicines in treating patients with cholera and upon Dr. J. Mabit for his work as the head of a hospital in Bordeaux where he consistently found that homeopathic treatment was effective.
Numerous kings, queens, and dukes from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Prussia were known advocates for homeopathy as were Czar Nicholas and Czar Alexander II of Russia. Despite the immense power that these monarchs had at that time, the resistance to homeopathy from conventional physicians was so strong that these monarchs were unable to overcome the economic power of the doctors and pharmacists of that era. One reporter noted that even the czars of Russia were unable to breakdown "the Chinese wall by which the medical hierarchy surrounds its domain".(6)
Still, these monarchs could exercise their free will with any health care, and they consistently chose homeopathic treatment, making homeopathy "the royal medicine."
(2) Weiser, M, Strosser, W, Klein, P, "Homeopathic vs. Conventional Treatment of Vertigo: A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Clinical Study," Archives of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, August, 1998,124:879-85. Although Tabacum is a leading medicine in homeopathy for vertigo/dizziness, this ingredient is not in this specific homeopathic formula medicine. The homeopathic medicine formula, Vertigoheel/Cocculus compositum, has been found to be effective for various ailments for which dizziness is a leading symptom.
(3) In 1939, King Haakon VII of Norway bestowed upon Sir John Weir the Knight Grand Cross of St. Olav, the highest honor granted by his country (Homoeopathy, 1939). Homoeopathy, Knight Grand Cross of St. Olav, March 1939, p. 96.
(4) Everest, Rev. T. R. A Popular View of Homeopathy. New York: William Radde, 1842.
(5) See the chapter "The Royal Medicine: Monarchs' Longtime Love for Homeopathy" in Ullman D. The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 2007.
(6) Historical and Statistical Report of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of Homeopathy in Russia, Transactions of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 1876, vol. II.
About the author
DANA ULLMAN, MPH, is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy (foreword written by Dr. Peter Fisher, Physician to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II), Homeopathy A-Z, Homeopathic Medicines for Children and Infants, and (the best-selling) Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines (with Stephen Cummings, MD). He is the founder of Homeopathic Educational Services (http://www.homeopathic.com), America's leading resource center for homeopathic books, tapes, medicines, medicine kits, software, and distance learning courses. Homeopathic Educational Services has co-published over 35 books on homeopathy with North Atlantic Books (which are distributed by Random House).