Equal parts majestic and mild-mannered, commanding and calm, Royal was the perfect police horse, said Heard: gentle, kind and willing to please, but bold and capable.
Heard rode Royal off and on for 11 years, often choosing the nearly 900-kilogram animal over the unit’s two dozen other horses. Royal’s size, combined with his willingness to please, made him the best choice for tough jobs — including the G20 summit.
“I won’t lie to you; there were a few times there when I was uncomfortable, looking at the monster crowds and the anger that people had,” Heard said. “Having that boy under me, it gave me assurance. ‘I’m on Big Royal and, you know what, we’re going to get through this.’”
Dominating as he appeared, Royal was also the first to be trotted out for school tours to the unit, thanks to his calm demeanour.
Heard remembers a visit to the station by blind children. Royal let them touch his side and whiskers, even feel the breath coming out of his nose, and no one was afraid he would act out.
“He would just do what was asked of him — a fantastic servant for the city,” Heard said.
"No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier