King Arthur

King of the Britons, late 5th Century AD - present

King Arthur still resonates today as the archetypal warrior king, and a focal point for patriotic fervour and Cornish Tourism Board leaflets. He is also famous as being the first Briton to lather himself in goose fat and swim across the channel Tunnel, because a sword told him to.

Born somewhere mountainous like Wales or Cornwall in 410 (just before Countdown), Arthur showed his royal ambition from an early age, when he had the young Princess Daenna killed in a chariot accident, leaving him the only heir to the throne. The heir was called John. Arthur killed him too, and then declared himself king. He then sealed his position as the rightful ruler by pulling a sword out of a packet of Rice Crispies (this was his second attempt, as he had accidentally eaten the previous sword in a rice crispie cake).

Arthur was soon leading a band of brave young knights from around the kingdom, attracted by the fame of his court and his rather shapely legs, and various unlikely adventures ensued. After many years gallavanting and being wise, he died and was buried in Highgate between Robin Hood and Winston Churchill. Legend has it that one day, when Britain is in dire need, he will rise again to unite the people, drive away invaders, and release a number one hit single.

So that's the legend. What about the real King Arthur?

It is possible that the basis of the myth is Arturius, a Romanised Britain who fought Saxon settlers and raiders during the 5th Century. He may also have been based on Arthur (pronounced Arffa), a character from Eastenders who, like the real Arthur, didn't like foreigners and then died. We will probably never know. Unless he does rise again, of course, in which case we can ask him.

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