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Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards

I can think of no better men to serve as my bodyguard then 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 predates 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

Fan Works

Film

Literature
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The body guards for the Hereditary President of the Peoples' Republic of Haven are all from Neo Geneva.
    • 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).
  • In the later part of the Animorphs series, Visser Three has an elite squadron of enhanced Hork-Bajir guards called the Blue Bands due to their blue arm bands.
    • And actually, each Visser had his or her own squadron of guards, differentiated by color.
  • 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 eunech-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 Irish 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
    • High lord Doran Martell's personal bodyguard is Areo Hotah, a foreigner trained by the bearded priests of Norvos.
    • For a short time, Tyrion 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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.
  • In 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.
  • In Eberron, mercenaries and bodyguards are one of the main exports of Darguun, a nation of traditional monster races.

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 home planet, 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 occurence. 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.

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.
  • 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
  • Possibly the Western Trope Codifier: The Swiss Guards which 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 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.
  • Scots Archer Guard of Kings of France.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Varangian Guard predate the Swiss Guards by centuries, though they are less well known today.
    • After 1066 AD the Guard was recruited primarily of Englishmen, known as Anglovaragginoi
    • The Turcopoles of Kingdom Of Jerusalem. Name means "Sons of Turks".
    • Gianitzaroi archer guard and Vardariotes mounted guard of the later Byzantine Empire. The former is close enough to Janissary to refer a guard of ex-Muslim converts to Christianity. Vardariotes were Hungarian mounted archers.
    • And before the use of the Varangians the emperor was most often defended by a unit of extremely well trained Armenians.
  • Older Than Feudalism: King David's Kerethites and Pelethites (Cretans and Philisteans) in 2 Samuel 15 in The Bible
  • The Eastern Trope Codifier? The Circassian Guard which protects the King of Jordan.
  • The Roman emperors had the Equites singulares Augusti, a cavalry suplement to the Praetorian Guard infantry. It was primary composed of provincials who were not Roman citizens or Italians, particularly those from Batavi Germanic tribe. See also the Germanic bodyguards who predated the Praetorian Guard.
  • 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, though the several examples of Janissary revolts prove it didn't quite succeed at this.
  • King of Poland John Sobieski used former Janissaries taken as POWs as part of his Autorament.
  • The French Foreign Legion is composed entirely (except for the officers) of non-Frenchman. Specifically those without a French passport. Historically this made them more expendable than native troops, and consequently the Legion became quite famous for their tenacity through many bloody engagements.
  • 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.
  • Various foreign units of the Waffen SS during World War II. Some of these units, particularly from Western Europe, proved far more fanatical than Germans, of both SS and regular army units. Indeed, one of the last units defending Hitler's bunker itself during the Battle of Berlin was a unit of French SS. They had a good reason to fight to the bitter end, since they faced treason charges with a German loss.

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