Queen Guinevere Pendragon, known as Gwen to her friends, is one of the main characters in the BBC series Merlin. She is the widow of Arthur Pendragon, one of the best friends of Merlin, the sister of the late Sir Elyan, the daughter of the late Tom the blacksmith, and the sister-in-law and a former best friend of the late Morgana Pendragon. Gwen worked as Morgana's maid for many years before marrying Arthur, and inherited the throne after his demise. It is assumed that Gwen ruled Camelot as Queen Regnant until the day she died.
At first, Gwen was shy and awkward and often found herself in situations she didn’t want to be in or saying things she didn’t mean to say. This usually happened around male characters, particularly Merlin and Arthur. Merlin immediately suggested that despite disliking him as a person Gwen had a crush on Arthur although this was untrue and he teased her about her attraction to "rough, tough save-the-world" types (The Dragon's Call, Lancelot).
She took a liking to Lancelot although - as with Arthur - Gwen claimed that he wasn’t her type when Merlin asked who she would choose between Arthur or Lancelot. Gwen also developed an unrequited crush on Merlin, attracted to the fact he was more or less the opposite of Arthur. However Gwen’s attempts to reveal her feelings for him frequently fell flat. For example when Merlin stated that she wouldn’t know the right man for her if he was standing right next to her Gwen looked at him and said "You're probably right." (The Dragon's Call, Lancelot)
As time went on she began to stand up for herself. It was she and Morgana who convinced Arthur to let the women of Ealdor fight when they were attacked by bandits, despite the fact that she was a servant. As a result Arthur began to acknowledge her more, seeking her out to promise her that she may keep her house and job after she was orphaned, and flirting with her after he recovered from the Questing Beast’s bite (The Moment of Truth, To Kill the King, Le Morte d'Arthur).
By Series 2, her confidence and self belief had grown significantly, now saw Arthur as someone approachable and she often offered him counsel and comfort when he needed it. She had to taking care of Morgana, as her nightmares got worse, often staying with her through the night and worrying about her when she was away from her. She is unafraid to berate and challenge people in positions of power but she has confided in Arthur that she sometimes finds it difficult to express what was truly in her heart. She is fast thinking and quick to speak up and defend both her friends and those who were unfairly treated. Gwen is very wise and mature for her young age. She was also very beautiful and attracted the attention of many people including Arthur, Lancelot, Gwaine and at least three of the villains, Agravaine, Helios and Hengist; indeed Hengist stated that she was as beautiful as Morgana (though Hengist had never met Morgana). Despite her beauty Gwen was not a vain person.
Arthur stated that Guinevere always surprised him and said that although he thought he knew everything about her she kept finding new ways to amaze him. This could be one of the reasons why he fell in love with her. Although Gwen was usually kind and gentle she was capable of being aggressive if her friends were in danger and Arthur complimented her on her courage saying that she was a fearless hero (Lamia).
Gwen was also noted for being extremely loyal to Arthur and Camelot.
Over the next three years, Gwen adjusted to her role as a wife and as a Queen which made her more confident in herself then she was before marrying Arthur. She was strong willed and took on responsibility in her husband's absences. However, Gwen also showed a considerably darker side, since she sentenced Sefa to death after finding out that Sefa had betrayed Camelot, even though Sefa had been her friend and was genuinely remorseful for her actions. It is also interesting to note that Gwen kept telling Sefa that she didn't have a choice, but in the first series she told Gaius that people always had a choice, although it was sometimes easier to think that they didn't. It is likely that Sefa's betrayal reminded her of Morgana, who had been her best friend half a decade earlier. However, it was later shown that Gwen had actually never intended to execute Sefa and that it was only a plan to allow Camelot to catch her father, Ruadan who was the real threat. This showed that Gwen was a skilled actress since even Gaius, who had known her for many years, didn't realise that she was only using Sefa to get to her father. It also showed that she could be quite manipulative, ironically a trait that her former friend Morgana possessed, although unlike Morgana Gwen only used manipulation in order to achieve results that were in the best interests of Camelot.
As the daughter of a blacksmith, Gwen was very knowledgeable about armour and various other pieces of equipment. She was able to help Merlin and Lancelot when they needed armour and weapons and made a key to free Sir Leon from the dungeons after Morgana conquered Camelot for the first time.
Gwen was also known for her dressmaking abilities as she was noted as the best Seamstress in Camelot by Merlin.
Gwen also displayed some skill at wielding a sword although she was no match for Morgana despite the fact that Morgana had been injured before their duel.
- Guinevere is the only woman to have sat at the Round Table alongside her husband, brother, Merlin, Gaius and the other knights.
- Due to her increasing relationship with Arthur, her outfits change due to the status she has in his life.
- Guinevere appeared in every episode except Love in the Time of Dragons, The Sorcerer's Shadow, Aithusa and A Herald of the New Age.
- Many episodes are indirectly named after Gwen, including The Once and Future Queen, Lancelot and Guinevere, Queen of Hearts, The Hollow Queen.
- Guinevere is the only known servant to have married into a noble family.
- Since Morgana's betrayal, Guinevere is the only female within Arthur's inner circle and is the 'mother' of the Knights of the Round Table and Merlin.
- Angel Coulby who plays Gwen has stated in an interview that Gwen has very little interaction with Mordred.
- In the same interview mentioned above, Angel has mentioned that little will change in regards to Gwen's friendship with Merlin, except for on occasion, he will address her formally.
- In many versions of the legend, Guinevere goes by many different names including Wenhaver which is the name of the character of Guinevere in Australian author M.K Hume's book trilogy on King Arthur. Wenhaver is the polar opposite to the Guinevere we are familiar with in Merlin.
- It is hinted when Gwen was brainwashed into allying with Morgana that she is barren, as she says to Leon "Arthur has no other family to succeed him." This could be a nod to most versions of the legend where Guinevere is unable to bear Arthur's heir. This hasn't been confirmed as being true. However in Perlesvaus,which is an Old French Arthurian romance, Guinevere and Arthur have a legitimate and biological son named Loholt.
- This retelling of the legend is more accurate due to the fact that the earliest stories had Guinevere as a faithful wife and the love triangle was only added after the French found the story.
- In the Italian version of the series, her name was translated as Ginevra, but her surname was kept as Gwen.