Study Guide

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Prince Herbert and King of Swamp Castle (Terry Jones and Michael Palin)

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Prince Herbert and King of Swamp Castle (Terry Jones and Michael Palin)

Herbert thinks his father is his mother… and we have no idea why, because his father has a full beard. Herbert's father calls him Alice. Their relationship is a classic clash of ideals: the young man who seeks true love against the pragmatic father who just wants some land (they do live on a swamp after all).

He plans to marry Herbert off to a woman whose father is a rich landowner, but Herbert wants a girl who—actually we never find out, because just as he's about to burst into song about it, his father cuts him off. Herbert has a nasty habit of bursting into song to express himself.

Herbert's father has him confined to his room so he doesn't run off before the wedding. Under the not-so-watchful watchful eyes of the guards, he writes a note, attaches it to an arrow, and shoots it out the window.

When Lancelot barges in, thinking the note is from a fair damsel in distress, both Herbert and his father are actually quite pleased. Herbert believes he's finally found the man to rescue him from his controlling father, while his father thinks he's finally found an inside track to the great lands of Camelot.

While Herbert tries to escape out the window on a rope, this father cuts the rope, sending the luckless Herbert to certain death. Now he can take on Lancelot as a proxy son who can marry what's-her-name, so Dad can get his hands on some choice real estate.

Just as Herbert's father thinks everything's settled, Herbert suddenly shows up not quite dead. Plenty of wedding guests are definitely dead. But Herbert breaks into song about why he's not dead while his father is saying things like "merger"' and "legally binding" as he tries to adopt his land—er—his new daughter-in-law.

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