The legend of King Arthur may or may not be true, but the story of the forbidden love of his Queen for one of his Knights lives in the hearts and minds of most of the Baby Boomers I know.
Camelot, the castle, the musical play, the movie are as much a part of the 1960s as the Beatles, The Stones, and Viet Nam.
King Arthur’s Queen, Guinevere lived in the times of the Crusades, chivalry, Maryology, and the chastity belt.
Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table were legends in their own right, men of valour, bravery, and finesse.
Lancelot du Lac, the horny Frenchman in the mix, landed in Avalon, stole the heart of the Queen, and tore the kingdom apart.
Guinevere’s story and heritage are varied. Some say she was Welsh, others a Celt, the daughter of a King, and even a commoner.
She was by all accounts a great beauty.
Lancelot was French, the chief Knight of the Round Table and the King’s best friend.
But love, love got in the way.
Guinevere fell for Lancelot and put the kingdom at peril.
The kind, loyal, strong and wise Lancelot was no match for love. They tried to keep the affair a secret, but other Knights knew. Sir Meliagaunt became suspicious and before the King and Queen, he confronted Sir Lancelot.
The Queen’s honor and life must be spared at all costs, so Lancelot, the brave one, challenged Meliagaunt. As the fight proceeded, Lancelot struck a fatal blow, dispatching his accuser and saving the Queen.
The rumors continued, the lovers became careless, and 12 angry men, Knights of the Round Table, broke into Guinevere’s chamber, catching the lovers.
Lancelot, valiant, strong, and buck naked fought his way out of the castle, Guinevere was taken prisoner and condemned to death by fire.
UPon hearing of the impending doom of his lady fair, du Lac stormed the castle, killing several of his former friends, but failed to rescue the Queen.
The lovers spent the rest of their lives apart. He a hermit, she a nun.
Alfred Lord Tennyson immortalized the duo in a poem, saying, “…a man had given all other bliss, and all his worth for this, to waste his whole heart in one kiss, upon her perfect lips.”
The story has been told, retold, filmed, re-filmed, again and again.
But, the one that sticks in our mind, is the Camelot we knew when Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave, lovers in fact, played the lovers on film.
There was never a more convenient spot for happily ever aftering, but there was no happily ever after.