Sometimes, it's not good to be king. Consider the case of Tutankhamun, the Egyptian boy king whose lasting fame was assured by the 1922 discovery of his tomb. His wealth, power and good looks, plus the political turmoil that surrounded his reign, appealed to generations of scholars, leading to speculation about his life and death.
The truth is a lot less romantic.
Egyptian researchers conducting the first genetic study of royal mummies took DNA samples from Tutankhamun and 10 other members of the royal family that ruled the North African kingdom more than 3,300 years ago. They were able to identify one of the unnamed royals as Tut's father, Akhenaten, best known for replacing Egypt's pantheon of deities with the worship of one god, and another as his grandfather, Amenhotep III.
More important was the discovery that Tut's mother was not the beautiful Nefertiti but his father's sister, who likely was one of Akhenaten's minor wives or concubines. Although inbreeding was a fairly common practice in the Egyptian royal family at that time, confirmation of King Tut's parentage changes our understanding.
Among the findings from the DNA testing and previous CT scans was that King Tut suffered from painful bone damage in his left foot, had fractured his left thighbone days before he died and had contracted a deadly form of malaria. There's no romance in the image of a weak-chinned, frail teenager with a cleft palate, leaning on a cane and shaking in the throes of a malaria attack.
But this is a remarkable glimpse into the real life of one of the most famous figures in history, and that's worth the loss of a little romance.