One who pretends to be possessed of wealth, influence, rank, or indeed any quality which is only conspicuous by its absence.—John Farmer's Americanisms Old and New, 1889
Death of "Emperor" Joshua Norton (c. 1815–1880),
an eccentric San Franciscan who corresponded with Queen Victoria and became know as "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton." His portrayal of royalty — which included a plumed top hat, pseudomilitary getup, and a sword he brandished for effect — earned him a reputation for lunacy. But he received the royal treatment in San Francisco and even had currency bearing his name issued which was accepted in his favorite saloons and eateries. In the mid-1850s he bankrupted himself buying up existing rice supplies in an attempt to corner the market. In 1859 he appointed himself emperor — first of California and later of the United States — before "ordering" the dissolution of Congress. He was also the first to decree that San Francisco not be called "Frisco." Norton died on the streets, largely abandoned by his former friends and business associates. But shamocrat or not, 30,000 people attended his funeral. The "king" in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn was reportedly modeled after him.
I am the king of the beasts, and I approve this message!
PS: "I am LORD Garth!"