Royal King was 17 months old in 1944 when Earl Albin and Jack Whiteside of Comanche, Texas, bought the colt for $250 from breeder Felton Smathers of Llano, Texas. Royal King was by King P-234 and out of Rocket (later registered as Rocket Laning). Rocket traced to Yellow Jacket on both sides of her pedigree.
Albin and Whiteside took 2-year-old Royal King to a show in San Angelo on April 8, 1945, where he was approved for AQHA registry by Helen Michaelis. Someone at the show offered $15,000 for the King colt. Whiteside believed you could never go broke making money, and cajoled Albin to accept the offer. Instead, Albin wrote him a check for $7500 and kept Royal King.
Royal King learned to cut in a herd of goats, training under Bob Burton and later James Boucher. He had enough "cow" in him to excel in the sport with anyone in the saddle, and he was ridden by numerous cutters throughout his career. "Royal King was a horse that you could put anybody on and win," said Albin's wife, Charlie Mae, in 1986. The stallion placed among the National Cutting Horse Association's top-10 annual earners four times in his career, and earned $24,003.
Even while he was competing, Royal King was continuing his sire's legacy by becoming a preeminent sire. In his first crop, 12 of 13 foals earned AQHA performance Registers of Merit. Ten of Royal King's foals competed at the first Quarter Horse show at the Texas State Fair in 1947.
His influence on cutting was most apparent in his cow-smart daughters, which included NCHA Hall of Famer and earner of more than $35,000 Miss Nancy Bailey, and Royal Smart, who produced multiple AQHA cutting world champion Royal Santana and Smart Peppy. Smart Peppy was dam of NCHA Triple Crown winner Smart Little Lena. All in all, Royal King sired a total of 590 registered foals.
Royal King died in 1971. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1997.
The American Quarter Horse Association, the world's largest equine breed registry, has its international headquarters in Amarillo, Texas. American Quarter Horses compete in horse shows around the world, and are in demand for racing, ranch work, rodeo, recreational riding, therapeutic riding and many other activities.