Lord British actually debuted in a Gradius spin-off called Salamander or the localized version. Western players probably know this game better as "Life Force".
The artwork features its signature weapon, the "Ripple Laser".
Unlike the Victory Viper, the option tokens Lord British produces are able to stay on the field until destroyed. This is likely a reflection of the game mechanic in Salamander (the Lord British's first appearance) allowing you to pick up your options on respawn.
In the video game Ultima there is a King named Lord British and you eventually get to pilot a space fighter.
The creator of Ultima, Richard Garriot, is known as Lord British by his fans, and has also been into space himself.