The King in the story is a hero in the classic sense of one who fights with courage against cruel and evil enemies. The King gathers an enormous army and sets sail for a foreign land, after bidding his wife goodbye. He is a man of action who had felt "restless" without a cause to pursue. Once he engages the enemy, the King's army conquers all in sight, but the enemy masses beyond their lines and then attacks with great ferocity. The King's army is defeated, and he himself is captured and imprisoned. Even in defeat, however, the King displays his strength. He endures three years of captivity, as well as hard and demeaning physical labor, never giving up hope of being freed. He cleverly sends a message to his Queen with a plan to free him.
The Queen acts as heroically as her husband. Realizing his plan for delivering a ransom will not work, she devises her own plan. Disguising herself as a wandering minstrel, she embarks on a long and arduous journey, alone, to make her way to him:
She traded her songs for passage on ships and journeyed to the foreign lord [who held her husband].
When she arrives at the castle of the "dark lord" who has imprisoned her husband, her courage carries her through. She charms him with her music for three days, earning his favor. When he grants her one wish, she asks that one of his prisoners escort her in her travels. She, of course, chooses her husband from among the prisoners to leave with her. Together they return to their home. She is as brave and heroic as the King. He went into danger with an army to fight for right. She went into danger alone, armed only with a lute, to secure his freedom and save his life.