One can understand how this might happen:
Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real. The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth. And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up.Both Churchill and Richard the Lionheart share the qualities that Chesterton attributed to Alfred the Great (who, for British readers, was also real):
How, in the current age, does one believe in George Washington? But Sherlock Holmes, with his cocaine habit and psychiatric obsessive disorders and inability to have a successful marriage -- why, he fits right in.
And this of Alfred and the Danes
Seems like the tales a whole tribe feigns
Too English to be true.
Of a good king on an island
That ruled once on a time;
And as he walked by an apple tree
There came green devils out of the sea
With sea-plants trailing heavily
And tracks of opal slime.
Yet Alfred is no fairy tale;
His days as our days ran,
He also looked forth for an hour
On peopled plains and skies that lower,
From those few windows in the tower
That is the head of a man.