The King is a supporting character in Disney's 1950 animated feature film, Cinderella. He is the short-tempered, yet benevolent father of Prince Charming. As the ruler of a far away kingdom, the King grew lonely as his son gained independence. This loneliness manifested in a longing for a family, preferably with grandchildren. As a means of coercing his son into marrying, the King assembles a royal ball in hopes that one eligible maiden will catch the prince's heart.
The King has a passionate temper but is also a romantic who strongly believes in love at first sight. When the Prince was young, he and his father were very close, but they ultimately grew apart as the Prince got older. As the king himself was getting older and will obviously eventually pass away, he really wants to see his son get married and have kids before that time comes. However, from what the King explains to the Grand Duke, it's for much more than just wanting an heir (which, in itself, is fairly valid for wanting his son to have children). As the King explains to the Grand Duke, he misses the sound of kids running around the castle and, overall, he really just wants to be a grandfather (while sleeping later on in the film, he's shown dreaming of spending time with a grandson and a granddaughter). At the same time, the King also wants his son to be genuinely happy with whomever he marries and has children with. He provides comedy for the three films. His Queen, who passed away before the events in Cinderella, is never seen. It is revealed that he loved his wife very much, which probably led to his romantic side.
His temper was shown several times to be next-to-unreasonable in his mission to get his son to marry, and he threatened the Grand Duke a few times to "encourage" him to follow his orders. He reacted explosively when he heard Cinderella escaped, as he accused the Duke of treason and tried to kill him with his sword, and only becoming placated when he learned his son would marry the girl who fits the Glass Slipper.
The King would unknowingly become an inspiring influence upon Anastasia, whose mother was manipulating things so she would be the one to marry Prince Charming and not Cinderella. He taught her about love, using his love with his departed wife as an example, and even gifting her with the seashell his wife once gave him. When Anastasia chose not to marry someone who didn't love her and apologized, she tried to return the seashell, feeling that she didn't deserve it, but the King showed surprising forgiveness by telling her to keep it because everyone deserves love.
In the Disney Princess comics by Joe Books, it is revealed that the King finds his job to be overbearing, as he dramatically confesses his dislike for council meetings to Cinderella at one point—particularly due to the fact that he finds discussions of civil events and community reformations to be tedious.
The King is a portly figure with fair skin, gray hair, and bushy eyebrows. In his initial appearance, he wears a navy blue coloured suit with gold buttons, matching epaulets and a single stripe on the sleeves. When he is angry, his face turns entirely red, which (according to the Duke) is due to problems with blood pressure. During the ball and throughout the sequels, he wore a cream-coloured suit with the same gold features. While in bed, the King wears a white long-sleeved nightgown with a purple matching hat.
In the original Cinderella, the King is desperately hoping to see the day his son gets married and has children of his own. He decides to hold a royal ball in honor of his son's recent return to the kingdom. In reality, though, the ball is intended to bring together beautiful maidens in the hope that the Prince would choose one of them as his bride. The king orders the Grand Duke to invite every eligible maiden in the kingdom to the ball. During the ball, the King is looking from the balcony fearfully, knowing his son's not interested in any of the maidens so far, and being very rude, making faces at them. The Grand Duke then tells the King to give up, stating that true love is just a fairy tale. However, the King spots a spark between his son Prince Charming and a new arrival, Cinderella. The King sees the two obviously falling in love and demands that they have complete privacy, so as not to ruin the mood. The King goes to bed for the night and orders the Duke to make sure nothing goes wrong between the two lovers.
While the King is asleep (dreaming of playing with his grandchildren), Cinderella suddenly runs away from the castle when the clock strikes midnight. The Grand Duke informs the king of the news and, enraged, the king accuses the Grand Duke of conspiring with the prince. The Duke explains that the girl left behind a glass slipper and that the prince is determined to marry her, finally satiating the King's rage. The next morning, the king issues a royal proclamation: the Duke will visit every home in the kingdom and have every maiden try on the slipper and bring in the one it fits. The Duke says the slipper may fit any girl, but the King takes advantage of the Prince's word and holds him to it, insisting that the Duke bring in a maiden who fits the slipper, even if it wasn't the same one the Prince danced with. Eventually, the Grand Duke finds Cinderella and, after finding out that the slipper perfectly fits her foot, takes her to the castle to be reunited with Prince Charming. The King is last seen with the Grand Duke jubilantly throwing confetti to celebrate the wedding of Cinderella and Prince Charming. When Cinderella loses her slipper while walking down the stairs, the King assists her in putting it back on, resulting in Cinderella kissing him on the head as a way of thanking him. He then blushes as he happily watches the newlyweds board a carriage and ride off to their honeymoon.
The King reappears in the film's sequel, in which he is trying to help Cinderella adapt to the life of a princess. In the first segment, he is sleeping in his chair, only to be rudely awoken by the Grand Duke and Prudence, announcing that Cinderella and Prince Charming have arrived back from their honeymoon. The King then became concerned that Cinderella lacked the knowledge of how to perform her duties as a princess. The Duke initially volunteered to coach her but the King instead assigned Prudence, and the first thing he announced upon meeting the happy couple was that he and Prince Charming had to leave for two days for important matters of state. As he tried to stuff a variety of objects into the wedding carriage, he reminded Prudence that Cinderella was in charge of the Royal Banquet and anything she said goes. With help from the Duke, the King is able to fit in his stuff and gets into the carriage, waving goodbye to his daughter-in-law from the back window as they rode off.
Upon his return, the King was initially irked that Cinderella had changed the traditions of the banquet, including opening the curtains, inviting commoners and switching prunes with chocolate pudding, but quickly warmed up to the changes.
Later, in the segment "Tall Tail", The King attends the kingdom's fair and during an incident with the current human Jaq and an elephant, he is sent flying and lands on top of the Ferris wheel.
Near the end, the mice run past him and the Duke in the throne room, frightening them both.
The King reappears in the film's second sequel. After Lady Tremaine turns back time with the wand of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, Anastasia is believed to be the mystery girl from the ball. The king takes an interest in her, as she somewhat resembles the king's former wife, as neither girl could dance. He remarks that in spite of the queen's lack of dancing ability, they loved each other dearly. The king then presents Anastasia with a seashell that was his most precious possession and unknowingly helping Anastasia being able to understand love.
Later, when Lady Tremaine's and Drizella's true natures are revealed, he orders the three arrested. They escape the king's guards by use of the magic wand. At the film's climax, Prince Charming blocks the wand's magic with his sword, and the magic hits Lady Tremaine and Drizella, transforming them into toads while teleporting them into the dungeon. Anastasia, who by now has had a change of heart, attempts to return the shell to the king. The king allows her to keep it, as he believes everyone deserves true love. He then smiles as Prince Charming and Cinderella get married in the new timeline. The King will also be hatefully merciless against Lady Tremaine and Drizella for their outrage actions against Cinderella and his son.
The King and the Grand Duke make cameo appearances in The Little Mermaid, attending Prince Eric and Vanessa's wedding ceremony. They are seen when Max the Sheepdog rushes by, just before he bites Vanessa on the rear.
The King made a few minor cameo appearances in the animated series House of Mouse. He was usually seen sitting at a table with the Grand Duke.
An emoticon version of the King briefly appeared in the Cinderella entry of the As Told by Emoji short series.
In Once Upon a Time, the King follows a similar storyline to the Disney movie version. He organizes a ball for his son, Prince Thomas, in which he falls in love with Cinderella. He also hopes that the Prince and Cinderella will produce an heir to the throne. In Storybrooke, he is Mitchel Herman. He is the strict father of Sean Herman (Thomas), who he forbids to be with his pregnant girlfriend, Ashley. Still, Sean disobeys him and joins Ashley to care for their baby.
After the breaking of the curse, Mitchell regains his memories of his past life as the King. Mitchell along with the rest of Storybrooke is sent home to the Enchanted Forest after the Dark Curse is reset by Pan. When the Wicked Witch of the West threatens the Enchanted Forest, Snow White and Prince Charming cast the Dark Curse to arrive back to Storybrooke, but, due to the Wicked Witch's memory potion, once the curse was cast, the King and everyone who was cursed back into Storybrooke lost their memory of their last year in the Enchanted Forest. After the second curse is broken, Ingrid casts the spell of Shattered Sight over Storybrooke, making nearly all of its residents (including Mitchell) turn dark, though it is shortly broken afterward. Sometime later, Maleficent casts the Sleeping Curse all over Storybrooke so that Mitchell and all the other residents are asleep unless they've been under the sleeping curse before.
The King plays a supporting role in the live-action re-imagining, portrayed by Derek Jacobi. Here, he is featured as the ailing ruler of the kingdom and, like the original film, wishes for his son to marry. One day, Prince Kit meets and falls in love with a commoner named Ella. Afterward, the king wishes to throw a ball and hopes his son will find love with one of the visiting royals. However, Kit's heart belongs to Ella, but because the law forbids royalty from marrying commoners, he convinces his father to allow every eligible maiden attend the ball, regardless of social status, to which he accepts. The King briefly encounters Ella before she leaves the ball and she tells him that Kit is the most lovely person she's ever met. She also reminds him of how much his son loves him and then dashes off. Following the events of the ball, Kit bids farewell to his father, who will soon breathe his last breath. Before he passes, he gives his blessing to his son, and permission to find and marry his true love.
The King is currently not a meet-and-greet character and only appears on special occasions such as during the Cinderella themed event Cinderellabration in the Magic Kingdom.
In the temporary show, Cinderella's Royal Coronation at the Magic Kingdom, the King appears as a main character, where he crowns Cinderella and pronounce her a true princess. The King also introduces many of Disney's most popular prince and princesses as invited guests.
The King also plays a part in the storyline for the Princess Fairytale Hall attraction at the Magic Kingdom. As the story goes, the King bestowed the hall upon Cinderella as a gift.
In the Disney Magic cruise ship's live, Broadway-style show Twice Charmed, the King joins the Cinderella cast in the show where Lady Tremaine gets an evil Fairy Godfather who corrupts Cinderella's life. An interesting part of the show is the reveal that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother was once the fairy godmother of the King himself, possibly explaining how he became royalty, much like Cinderella.
- The King has the books Homer, Plato, and Rabelais on his desk.
- His actual name is unknown.
- The King never wears his crown; the only appearance it makes is during the King's introduction in Cinderella, in which it is thrown out of a window.