The King is the posthumous overarching antagonist of the 2017 Disney live-action film Beauty and the Beast based on the acclaimed 1991 animated classic with the same name. He is the (possibly late) father of the Prince (who was transformed into the Beast) who used to rule an unnamed French kingdom.
Role in the film
According to Mrs. Potts (the head of the castle's kitchen), the King was known to rule his kingdom with an iron fist with his dear wife (the Queen) and young son (the Prince) by his side. Unlike the Queen, who was kind-hearted and caring to her son, the King was very arrogant and cruel in nature. The King only appeared briefly when the young Prince stood by singing at the Queen's deathbed as she died from unknown causes, right before he leads his son away from the scene. The King then took the opportunity to harden his son's heart through abuse to make him a vain and selfish ruler like himself. Of course, the castle servants secretly disapprove of the King's treatment towards the Prince, but they were too scared to do anything about it as they feared of any retaliation that the King would inflict on them.
The King's horrible treatment is what caused the Prince to develop an arrogant personality towards his own subjects during his young adult years. What ultimately became of the King is unknown, though he either moved to another castle or that he died of unknown causes. But in any case, the Prince followed his footsteps of his father. It wasn't until one winter night during a debutante ball, a visiting Enchantress places a spell on the Prince as punishment for denying her any shelter, transforming him into the Beast and the castle servants into household objects. After erasing the memory of the castle from the townsfolk, the Enchantress tells the Beast that he can break the spell by learning to love another and earn her love in return before the enchanted rose's last petal falls, otherwise his monstrous form will remain and that the servants will become permanent antiques, much to their distraught.
Because of this event, the Beast felt extremely ashamed of his actions and despised his father for causing his pain; even tearing up a family portrait of himself and his father in revenge (though the portrait of his mother remains intact as the Beast couldn't bear himself to ruin it due to his genuine love for her). Even the servants felt depressed over their role in the event, as they are full of regret of letting the Beast becoming so arrogant due to the King's treatment. Eventually, a young village bookworm named Belle reached out to the Beast's heart after he saved her from a wolf pack. To that end, Belle negates the King's treatment by helping the Beast unleash his inner humanity before giving out her love for him. This effectively breaks the spell and turns the Beast and his servants back to normal, much to their delight.
- The King's personality reflects to that of Gaston (the main antagonist of the film):
- They are both selfish leaders.
- They tend to abuse those who are close to them (The King to the Beast, the Queen, and their castle servants; Gaston to LeFou and his buddies).
- They sense an opportunity for glory and power by any means necessary (The King hardened the Beast's heart to become an arrogant ruler following the Queen's death; Gaston goaded the villagers to hunt down the Beast in an attempt to have Belle marry him).
- Given to the King's unconcerned behavior towards the dead Queen as he leads the Prince away from the deathbed, it is apparent he did not approve of his son's soft heart and tender nature.
- The King is indirectly responsible for the events of the film, as his abusive treatment towards the Prince is a clear explanation why the Prince became so selfish and arrogant that caused the enchantress to set off the film's plot in the first place.