Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards

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I can think of no better men to serve as my bodyguard than those who rescued me from the Ye-tai and guarded me so well during all the long months at Gwailor

A character of great power or wealth has their importance underscored by having a cadre of bodyguards from a foreign land. These guards will be elite, disciplined, faintly exotic, and extremely competent.

In fiction, this is usually reserved for villains. The Evil Overlord, Evil Chancellor, Evil Prince, and President Evil all need foreigners to protect them because it's hard to trust your citizenry when you spend most of your day exploiting and oppressing them. Don't be surprised if they are commanded by The Dragon.

Contrary to Hollywood's portrayal, foreign bodyguards were historically very common and very respected. This, of course, pre-dates all the negative stereotypes associated with Private Military Contractors, when hiring mercs was a common way of raising an army; mercenaries who distinguished themselves on the battlefield stood a good chance of being offered a bodyguarding job, which was essentially a permanent exclusive contract. In their favor, a foreigner's loyalty was largely independent from domestic politics, which prevented Bodyguard Betrayal and palace revolutions; and with their exotic look and weapons, they added a welcome touch of grandiosity to a ruler's court, ceremonial and public presentation.

Part of the Standard Royal Court. Whether their charge is good or evil, they'll stick to their oath of service. They are probably from a Proud Warrior Race, and might be The Remnant. Could overlap with Bodyguard Babes, if the babes are foreign. Usually does not accompany a Bodyguard Crush. A subtrope to Praetorian Guard.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Jormungand, in both the anime and manga versions, almost all of the arms dealers have bodyguards, though only notably Koko and Casper Hekmatyar have truly diverse cadres of bodyguards.

     Comic Books 

  • In Pathfinder: Worldscape, Empress Camilla (the Scandinavian ruler of a jungle city trapped in another dimension) employs White Martians (in other words, literally aliens) as both her bodyguards and street enforcers.

     Fan Works  

     Film  

     Literature  

  • Honor Harrington:
    • The bodyguards for the Hereditary President of the People's Republic of Haven are all from Neo Geneva, partially due to tradition but mostly because (rightly) doesn't trust any Havenites and the Genevans have a reputation for the utmost loyalty. They're intended to be a parallel to the French Kings' Gardes-Suisses (see Real Life).
    • Honor's armsmen hail from Grayson, prompting some ruffled feathers when she has to take armed foreign nationals onto Her Majesty's warships. Though this is technically an aversion, because Honor has dual Manticoran and Grayson citizenship (and titles).
  • Artemis Fowl: The Irish hero is guarded by the Butler family, of Caucasian (as in, from the Caucasus) descent.
  • In the Belisarius Series the Badass Princess Shakuntala has a unit of Kushans that were originally her captors before she convinced them in a Crowning Moment of Awesome that she was a much more honorable not to mention much prettier employer. It was assumed that anyone who was badass enough to keep Shakuntala captive should also be able to keep her alive.
    • The Big Bad Link has bodyguards from Khmer(Cambodia), both eunuch-soldiers and professional assassins.
  • In Star Trek: Vanguard, the Knowledge Broker Chathani has several Anticans serving as her bodyguards. She mentions that Antican guards are known across the Taurus Reach for their loyalty, and thus it's implied a fully Antican detail is a status symbol.
  • Deryni: The Marluk and his daughter Charissa of Tolan seem to favor black robed Moors as their personal bodyguards and chief lieutenants.
  • El Patron of House of the Scorpion had a bunch of Scottish hooligans as bodyguards, including a couple former terrorists.
  • Subverted in The Granite Shield, in which knights from an alternate England cross the border to protect a Welsh pretender to their own throne during a religious schism between the two.
  • In Paladin of Shadows, the Keldara are descendants of Scots and Vikings brought into the Byzantine Empire to serve in the Varangian Guard, and serve as this to the Keldar (a position always held by a foreigner) in the present.
  • It being a fantasy version of Byzantine Empire the Videssian emperor in various books by Harry Turtledove has his Halogaland guard of large men with axes from the frozen north.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Prince Doran Martell's personal bodyguard is Areo Hotah, a foreigner trained by the bearded priests of Norvos.
    • For a short time, Tyrion Lannister has bodyguards who are leaders of the various mountain clans that he has recently recruited. The mountain clans are from within the borders of the Seven Kingdoms but exist outside of its feudal society. Although not suited to the Deadly Decadent Court of Kings Landing, Tyrion wants soldiers who are loyal to him personally, as opposed to Lannister household guards who might be beholden to another member of his Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • In Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword, the Emperor of Mel'in is guarded by naturalized Freefolk warriors.
  • In The Long Ships Orm and his companions serve in the Almohad Caliph Al-Mansur's bodyguard for several years. Orm's brother Are and Olof Summerbird both served in the Varangian Guard in Constantinople.
  • As a Proud Warrior Race, the Noghri in the Star Wars Expanded Universe often appear in this role. Notably, the titular Grand Admiral in The Thrawn Trilogy invokes their species' debt to the Empire to secure their services as his bodyguards and assassins. In the same trilogy, Leia picks up a pair of Noghri bodyguards as well, due to her status as "Lady Vader." She keeps these bodyguards for years afterwards.
  • In The Black Company, in the later novels, the leaders of Taglios, the officers of the Black Company, and at least one Shadowmaster have foreign bodyguards.

     Live Action TV  

  • Babylon 5: Michael Garibaldi goes on a mission to the Drazi homeworld. He meets a human friend working as a bodyguard. He tells Garibaldi that rich aliens hire human bodyguards as a status symbol.
  • In I, Claudius, one of the difficulties faced in assassinating Caligula is the large contingent of German guards he has around him. He apparently didn't trust his native-born Praetorian Guard and military officers very much (with good reason, as it turned out.)
  • Star Trek occasionally showed Nausicaans serving in this capacity.

    Music 
  • In one particularly odd example, "Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani (also known as the lead singer of the band No Doubt) describes Gwen's Japanese backup dancers thus:
    I'd get me four Harajuku girls to
    Inspire me, and they'd come to my rescue
    I'd dress them wicked, I'd give them names
    Love, Angel, Music, Baby — hurry up and come and save me

     Tabletop RPG  

  • Traveller Classic, Book 4 Mercenary. One of the mercenary tickets (scenarios) was to act as bodyguards to the leaders of the planet Jokotre while they made a pilgrimage to the shrines in the holy lands.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 a Dark Eldar Archon can have a cadre of xeno bodyguards for their protection, because they're not motivated by Chronic Backstabbing Disorder which is prevalent in most of the Dark Eldar. The usual bodyguard of choice (and the only ones there are currently game rules for) are the hulking four-armed snake-like Ssslyth, who are known for their loyalty.
    • A less ostentatious variant are Incubi, who are Dark Eldar, but hail from a different Kabal. Since they aren't actually underlings of the Archon they're guarding, this protects both their charge and their true masters from the possibility of Klingon Promotion at the same time, while making one of them safer and the other richer.
  • Warhammer
    • The Phoenix Kings of the High Elves have traditionally been guarded by a contingent of Chracian White Lion Huntsmen, ever since an incident when the third Phoenix King � Caledor the Conqueror � had his life saved from Dark Elf Assassins while out hunting in Chrace himself. In that the Phoenix King is the sovereign ruler of Chrace along with the other nine kingdoms of Ulthuan, the White Lions are not mercenaries but loyal subjects, but since none of the twelve Phoenix Kings so far have ever been Chracians themselves, they're still foreign bodyguards in that sense.
    • Warhammer's version of the Varangian Guard are Hungs and Norscans employed by rich citizens. Anyone who knows anything about their religion knows how stupid this is.
    • The Regiments of Renown have a special character called the Paymaster, who is protected by four ogre bodyguards. If he dies, the regiment disbands since there's no one to pay them.
  • In Eberron, mercenaries and bodyguards are one of the main exports of Darguun, a nation of traditional monster races. (That's one of them in the page image above.)

     Video Games  

  • In Jagged Alliance 2 while Deidranna mainly uses We Have Reserves forced conscripts, at least one (the others may be, but they don't have names or faces) of her close bodyguards are foreign mercenaries. Of course, by the game's premise, all but a small handful of the party are foreign mercs as well.
  • The relationship between the hanar and the drell in Mass Effect is this trope on a species level. Since the hanar rescued the drell from dying out on their starved and overpopulated homeworld, many drell choose to serve them in some fashion and serve as assassins for them.
  • In Dishonored, protagonist Corvo Attano is not a native of the island of Gristol where the game takes place, and whose Empress he is the bodyguard of. However, this isn't a regular occurrence. In fact, Corvo is the first non-Gristolian Royal Protector in recorded history, and there is much speculation in-universe as to what bearing this has on his actions and motivations.
  • One of the possible endings for Spectre's mercenary company in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries is to earn a cushy contract serving as these for Peter Davion-Steiner's regime after helping lead them to victory over their rivals (the Steiner-Davions). Spectre even notes that the "official histories" downplayed his role but, hey, he's getting paid enough not to care.
  • The Kingsglaive in Final Fantasy XV are tasked with the protection of the Lucian royal family and carrying out other sensitive missions outside the purview of the regular military. The prequel film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV reveals that almost all the members of the Kingsglaive are immigrants from Lucian vassal states. This turns out to be a problem when Lucis's negotiations with The Empire and its expanding borders means politics stops being local and starts affecting their homelands.
  • Prince Sebastian Lacroix in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines has a hulking African vampire, who is completely mute, as his Sheriff. Considering vampires normally tend to be Manipulative Bastards who avoid direct confrontation if they can avoid it, his unknown origins, inability/unwillingness to speak and physical power makes him very good at his job. He is the Final Boss of the game if you choose to go after Lacroix in the ending.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In the backstory, the Tsaesci of Akavir invaded Tamriel in the late 1st Era during the reign of Emperor Reman Cyrodiil I. Reman was able to defeat them, using the Thu'um in the process. The Tsaesci, who detest all dragons, recognized Reman as "Dragonborn," who they believe to be the ultimate dragon slayers. Reman incorporated the surviving Tsaesci into his armies and took their Dragonguard on as his personal bodyguard in the fashion of this trope. They would go on to influence the Blades, who would act as spies and bodyguards for all future emperors of Tamriel (at least until the 4th Era when they were forcibly disbanded as part of the White-Gold Concordant).
    • In Morrowind, Hlaalu Helseth, King of Morrowind, has this going on. His strongest bodyguard, Karrod, is a Redguard. The Captain of the Royal Guards, Tienius Delitian, is an Imperial. Alusannah, another Redguard, is the personal bodyguard of Helseth's mother Barenziah.

     Visual Novel  

  • In Ace Attorney Investigation 2, The President of Zheng Fa hired a private security firm during his visit to Gourd Lake. As explained by the game, this is due to the President's remarkably strained relationship with the police force of Zheng Fa, not exactly helped by his dwindling popularity.

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation  

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula, the Fire Nation princess, brings back Dai Li agents from the Earth Kingdom and they serve as her own personal elite squad of guards. This ends up being particularly useful to her during the eclipse: the eclipse may turn off Firebending, severely limiting a Firebender's ability to fight, but the Dai Li are Earthbenders, and thus are unaffected.
  • Archer: Isis is hired to protect the pope from an assassination plot by a group of Swiss guards. Lana is incensed to discover that Archer's opinion of them is based on their ceremonial gear, and didn't bring guns because they won't need them against halberds, which he notes aren't very practical.
    "Of course they aren't! That's why now... they carry MP5s!"

     Real Life  
  • The Ur-Example would be The Imperial German Bodyguard, a cadre of Germans (from outside the borders of the The Roman Empire) whose job it was to guard the Julio-Claudian emperors. The most important thing they defended them from was the Praetorian Guard. Yes, the early emperors of Rome had a group of bodyguards, whose job it was to protect them from their own bodyguards.
  • The Byzantine Empire followed the Roman tradition, hiring personal guards during its long history from such diverse foreign ethnicities as Armenians, Kievan Rus, Scandinavians, Anglo-Saxons, Normans, Sicilians and Turks. The most famous of these cadres was The Varangian Guard, which was founded by the Rus and later became a favoured career option for Scandinavian nobles and exiled Anglo-Saxons post-conquest.
  • The Western Trope Codifier today is likely the Swiss Guards that protect the Pope. The silly pants may make them seem a little like Bunny Ears Lawyers, but they were a terror on the battlefield in the late 1400s to early 1500s, and they retain their tradition faithfully. And while they look silly, anyone trying to do harm to His Holiness will come to realize, to their detriment, that they are highly trained military professionals—they have all completed basic training with the Swiss Army, are chosen according to exacting standards of physical fitness, and are given further training once they arrive in the Guards. And although they are most often seen with their ceremonial weapons (swords and halberds) for guard duty, this is in reality their version of the 18th-century uniforms worn by the British Royal Guards; when actually guarding the Pope, they carry the standard-issue weapons of the Swiss Army: the SIG Sauer P220 handgun, the SIG SG 550 assault rifle, and the MP5 submachine gun.
  • The Gardes-Suisses (Swiss Guards) of the French kings, including the more ceremonial body-guards, the Cents-Suisses (Hundred Swiss). During the French Revolution they, unlike the Gardes-Francaises (French Guards), who sympathized with the Revolution, remained true to Louis XVI and were killed during the storming of the Tuileries in 1792.
    • The French monarchy also had the Garde Écossaise (Scots Guards), originally a company of knights and mounted archers part of a Scottish expeditionary force during The Hundred Years War that king Charles VII kept with him. With time they formally became his bodyguards, and, as their ranks were enlarged and filled with Frenchmen, became the first company of the Garde du Corps du Roi (Bodyguards of the King), the main cavalry regiment of the royal guard.
  • Napoleon's Imperial Guard included a squadron of Mamluks (the nucleus of which had been brought over from Egypt, although as time progressed more and more Frenchmen filled the ranks), a regiment of Polish lancers (raised in 1806/7), and a squadron of Lithuanian Tatars (raised in 1812). One squadron of Polish Lancers accompanied him to exile in Elba and later served in the Waterloo campaign.
  • Older Than Feudalism: King David's Kerethites and Pelethites (Cretans and Philistines) in 2 Samuel 15 in The Bible
  • The Eastern Trope Codifier? The Circassian Guard which protects the King of Jordan.
  • During the Russian Civil War, the Red top brass was guarded by the Latvian Riflemen. Also, they got Chinese mercenaries — usually converted from workers who ended up "marooned" when the empire gone down. These were also used in the guards role. which later was codified as the special unit: "The First International Legion of Red Army".
  • African mercenaries seem to be the personal choice of many dictators, when the loyalty of their own army becomes suspect. Due to the frequent wars and disintegrating states in parts of African many of these are quite experienced and well equipped.
  • The Ottoman Empire's Janissaries, who were Christian children enslaved at a young age from subject territories (mostly those in eastern Europe) and trained into elite military units. The system was engineered to create and ensure loyalty to the Ottoman Sultan alone and prevent the rise of a native military and bureaucratic aristocracy that could rival him. The several Janissary revolts happened once this way of recruiting loosened (as early as the end of the 16th century; it totally ended in the 18th).
    • The Ottomans likely got this idea from the Ghilmans, slave-soldiers of Turkic origin used in Muslim Persia after the rise of the Abbasid dynasty, and the also-foreign-slave-soldier Mamluks of Egypt. Similarly to the Janissaries, these ended up laxing their standards and getting locals involved, got too much temporal power and rebelled against their rulers (or, in the case of the Mamluks, became the rulers).
  • King of Poland John Sobieski used former Janissaries taken as POWs as part of his Autorament.
  • The Walloon Guards. Walloons from Belgium who protected the monarchs of Spain from 1734 to 1820.
  • In 1373 the ruling regent of Cyprus, John of Antioch, was convinced by his sister-in-law, Eleanor, that his Bulgarian bodyguards were going to betray him, and had them all thrown off the highest tower of St Hilarion Castle. Eleanor had him killed a very short time later.
  • The Presidential Guard of Gabon was officered until the late 90s by veterans of the French Foreign Legion, particularly the disbanded 1st Parachute Regiment. One of them, Louis-Pierre "Loulou" Martin, served President Omar Bongo from 1967 to 1993.
  • Watchguard International (established by SAS founder David Stirling) used to supply ex-SAS and British military bodyguards for African and Arabian leaders. The suggestion has been made that this was an unofficial means of maintaining a British presence in former colonies who might find it politically unacceptable to ask for British military aid.


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