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The Emperor's Royal Guard: A Guide

Larry Slawson received his Master's Degree in 2018. He has a keen interest in Star Wars and has been a fan for 25+ years.

From Shadow Guards to Sovereign Protectors, this article examines each of the royal guard variants that are present within the Star Wars universe.

From Shadow Guards to Sovereign Protectors, this article examines each of the royal guard variants that are present within the Star Wars universe.

Throughout the Star Wars universe, one of the most respected (and feared) units of the Galactic Empire was the Imperial Royal Guards. First appearing in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, these masked guardsmen quickly became an icon of the Imperial Order (and a fan-favorite) due to their intimidating appearance and superior combat skills. This article provides a detailed history of the Imperial Royal Guard and their variants throughout the Star Wars universe. It examines the history, training, duties, and weaponry of each Royal Guard variant, and provides a general discussion of their influence on current films and characters (such as the Elite Praetorian Guards of The Last Jedi).

The Emperor's Royal Guard.

The Emperor's Royal Guard.

Emperor's Royal Guard

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Episode VI)
  • Leader(s): Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: 28 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin)
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire

The Emperor’s Royal Guard (also known as the Imperial Guard or “Imperial Royal Guard”) was an elite unit tasked with guarding (and protecting) Emperor Palpatine from harm. Royal Guards were known to accompany the Emperor almost everywhere (including his bedchamber) and were considered fiercely loyal and devoted to the Imperial cause. By the height of the Empire, it is estimated that anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand Royal Guards existed (their true number hidden from plain view by the Emperor and his inner circle for security reasons).

Training

Often hand-picked from the Stormtrooper Corps for both their bravery and skills as a soldier, Royal Guard candidates were trained extensively at the Imperial Royal Guard Academy on the planet Yinchorr. Training was both grueling and intense for recruits, and was designed to weed out any form of weakness. It was also specifically designed to inculcate total obedience and loyalty to the Emperor. Although classes typically began with 40 individual candidates, it wasn’t uncommon for there to be only a few students left by the end of the training. Training consisted of a year-long regimen of hand-to-hand combat that focused on the Echani-style of fighting. Failure at any point of the class often resulted in death.

By the end of training, the surviving students were forced to fight to the death as a final test before the Emperor himself. The surviving individual would then go on to become a full member of the Imperial Royal Guard.

Duties

Although the primary duty of the Imperial Guard was the protection of Emperor Palpatine, a few individuals were hand-picked to guard secret facilities of the Galactic Empire. Others played a vital role in maintaining security for the Emperor by performing top-secret assassinations of suspected enemies, or by performing covert assaults against enemy groups. Failure, at any point, was met by swift execution from the Emperor; however, a few Royal Guards were known to escape this fate by kneeling and swearing to make amends for their shortcomings (starwars.fandom.com).

Armor and Weaponry

The armor of Royal Guards is believed to have been inspired by Mandalorian uniforms, the Sun Guard, as well as the Senate Guard of the Galactic Republic. Battle armor was fully-functional, allowing maximum mobility and superior protection against a variety of weaponry. It even served a ceremonial purpose as well, due to the loose-fitting robes and fearsome helmet that accompanied the armor.

Typical weapons utilized by the Royal Guard included their primary weapon known as a “Force Pike,” which could be used to defend (and strike) against a variety of weapons. Concealed beneath their robes was also a heavy blaster pistol (for long-range attacks), as well as a vibrosword for use in close-combat situations.

Pictured above is a member of the elite Shadow Guard.

Pictured above is a member of the elite Shadow Guard.

Emperor's Shadow Guard

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Leader(s): Darth Vader; Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: 29 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin)
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire

The Emperor’s Shadow Guard was an elite unit of Force-sensitive soldiers believed to have originated from the last remnants of the Imperial Sun Guard (a group of Jedi Knights that had pledged themselves to the Dark Side). Personally trained by Darth Vader, the Shadow Guard were known for their ferocity, skill, and Dark Side abilities. For these reasons, they were often sent on secret missions to eliminate suspected Jedi or Force-sensitive individuals that posed a threat to Emperor Palpatine and his Empire.

Training

Little is known about the training regimen that Shadow Guards were required to undergo. However, if the path to becoming a member of the Imperial Royal Guard is any indication, the steps required for Shadow Guards was likely brutal. According to non-canon sources, Shadow Guards were personally trained by Darth Vader, and were believed to be “an elite special operations unit within the Emperor’s Royal Guard” (starwars.fandom.com). They are believed to have originated in the Sun Guard (which later became the Royal Guard), and were likely chosen as Shadow Guard candidates once it was determined they were Force sensitive.

Shadow Guards were personally supervised throughout their training by Lord Vader, and were given the responsibility of guarding the Emperor at all costs. To accomplish this, members of the Shadow Guard were taught an array of Force powers and lightsaber techniques. Their powers included: Force lightning, Force Push, Force Repulse, Force Choke, and Force Maelstrom. For these reasons, it has been hypothesized that the Shadow Guard were actually former Jedi Knights that had been brainwashed and tortured by the Emperor before pledging themselves to the Imperial cause. If true, this would help to explain their effectiveness at hunting remnants of the Jedi Order in the years leading up to the Battle of Yavin. Nevertheless, none of these theories can be confirmed with any certainty at this time.

Duties

Aside from their duties as guardsmen for the Emperor, the Shadow Guard were also used for a variety of top-secret missions within the Empire. A primary task of the Shadow Guard was the elimination of Jedi and Force sensitive users across the galaxy. Occasionally, Shadow Guards would even lead groups of Imperial Stormtroopers into battle if the Emperor deemed their presence necessary. In stark contrast to Imperial Royal Guards, however, the Shadow Guard were always accompanied by a personal detail of Imperial Navy Commandos, Stormtroopers, or the Imperial Royal Guard itself (in cases of extreme importance). In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Starkiller, was forced to fight a number of Shadow Guards that had been sent to kill him and Jedi Master Rahm Kota. And while Starkiller was able to dispatch the guards, their natural abilities made them deadly adversaries.

Armor and Weaponry

Shadow Guards were nearly identical in appearance to the Royal Guard, with the only notable exception being the color of their armor. Whereas Royal Guards donned red armor, robes, and black visors, Shadow Guards wore solid black robes and armor, along with a black helmet that was accentuated by a red-tinted visor. In addition to their attire, the primary weapon of choice for the Shadow Guard was a lightsaber pike. They were also known to possess heavy blaster pistols under their robes, along with long-range comlinks to maintain constant communication with the Emperor. Similar to Shadow Stormtroopers, some Shadow Guards even possessed personal cloaking devices to conceal their identity.

Pictured above is an Imperial Sovereign Protector (sometimes referred to as a "Royal Guard Champion").

Pictured above is an Imperial Sovereign Protector (sometimes referred to as a "Royal Guard Champion").

Imperial Sovereign Protectors

  • First Appearance: Dark Empire
  • Leader(s): Emperor Palpatine
  • Date Founded: Unknown
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire

Imperial Sovereign Protectors, also referred to as “Royal Guard Champions,” were the most elite and prestigious unit of guardsmen in the Galactic Empire. Imperial Sovereign Protectors were hand-picked from the Royal Guard by Emperor Palpatine himself, where they then underwent years of conditioning and training that stressed perfection (starwars.fandom.com). Extreme standards based on stamina, strength, dexterity, intelligence, and fitness were also employed during the selection process, ensuring that only the “best of the best” were able to wear the mantle of “Imperial Sovereign Protector.” One of the most well-known Sovereign Protectors was the Royal Guardsmen known as Carnor Jax.

Training

Since the basic requirement of an Imperial Sovereign Protector was membership in the Imperial Royal Guard, initial training began at the Imperial Royal Guard Academy at Yinchorr. Following a year of extensive training in the art of Echani fighting, surviving students were then forced to fight to the death in the presence of Emperor Palpatine. Students that survived were then selected as full members of the Imperial Royal Guard (the first step in becoming a Royal Guard Champion). Guards could then be selected as Sovereign Protectors after enduring several years of selection procedures and training. Candidates were forced to maintain extreme combat standards of fitness, strength, and intelligence. Moreover, they were forced to undergo extensive training in the use of heavy blasters as well as the double vibroblade (their primary weapon of choice).

Once this advanced training was completed, candidates would then receive further instruction from Senior Dark Side Adepts such as Arden Lyn. In their studies, candidates would learn to wield the Dark Side of the Force in order to provide maximum protection to the Emperor in times of danger. Taken together, these guards were extremely talented in the art of armed and unarmed combat, giving them a decisive edge over most opponents.

Upon completion of their training, these former Royal Guards were given the honorary title of “Sovereign Protector,” giving them greater duties, additional responsibilities to the Emperor, as well as access to their own Royal Guard TIE Interceptor (TIE/IN). Completion also made Sovereign Protectors eligible for further training (and advancement) in Dark Jedi training; however, such appointments beyond Sovereign Protectors was exceptionally rare.

Duties

Sovereign Protectors served both a ceremonial and military purpose within the Galactic Empire. And while their primary purpose was the direct guarding of Emperor Palpatine himself, Sovereign Protectors were occasionally deployed to protect vital monasteries, palaces, and citadels around the galaxy. One place, in particular, included a massive data center located on the planet Sullust.

In Legends, the Sovereign Protectors were even stationed aboard Emperor Palpatine’s personal Super Star Destroyer known as the Eclipse. While their exact numbers remain unknown, it is estimated that several regiments (comprised of 400 Sovereign Protectors) were in existence at the height of the Galactic Empire. Despite these numbers, Sovereign Protectors were rarely seen during the Imperial Era as part of their extreme secrecy.

Armor and Weaponry

Although quite similar in appearance to the Royal Guard, Imperial Sovereign Protectors differed in appearance due to their black chest-plate, gauntlets, and helmets that possessed a black face mask. The lightweight and durable armor gave the Sovereign Protector ultimate protection against a variety of weapons, while simultaneously providing them with an incredible degree of motion and agility. In ceremonial occasions, this attire could be supplanted by ornate armor and hoods that provided similar mobility and protection.

In regard to weapons, the primary weapon of choice for the Sovereign Protector was a double vibroblade. Modified force pikes were also employed, and were specifically designed with a scythe-like appearance to give the wielder ultimate control over the weapon. Secondary weapons are completely unknown at this time. However, due to their extensive training in blasters, it is believed that Sovereign Protectors possessed a heavy blaster of sorts under their robes at all times (for additional protection).

Member of the elite Saber Guard; one of the fiercest warriors of the Imperial military.

Member of the elite Saber Guard; one of the fiercest warriors of the Imperial military.

Saber Guards

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • Leader(s): Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: Unknown
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire

Saber Guards were an elite unit of Force-sensitive soldiers known to be among the most feared warriors of the Galactic Empire. Trained in Force resistance techniques, these highly-trained soldiers were experts at lightsaber combat, and were known to employ a pair of red lightsabers as their primary weapons of choice. First recruited under the Imperial Saber Program, Saber Guards were tasked with not only defending the Emperor from danger, but played a vital role in security against Force users in the galaxy.

Training

Very little is known about the Imperial Saber Guards as their appearances in the Star Wars universe have been extremely limited. Nevertheless, official data records indicate that Saber Guards were among the fiercest warriors in the Galactic Empire, having underwent extensive training on the planet Kamino. Some have hypothesized that the Saber Guards may have been clones with a degree of Force potential and sensitivity; however, such claims have never been proven with certainty (and will likely remain unknown since Saber Guards are no longer considered canon).

As defenders against Force users, the Saber Guards were heavily trained in the art of lightsaber combat and martial arts. They were also trained extensively in the art of Force manipulation, allowing them to construct Force barriers and to utilize saber throws with precision (starwars.fandom.com).

Duties

The primary duty of the Saber Guard was defense against (or assassination) of Force-sensitive users in the galaxy. For these reasons, the Saber Guard often accompanied Sith Acolytes in their hunt for Force users and enemies of the Galactic Empire. In times of trouble, the guard could be called upon by the Imperial military to assist local garrisons. One particular mission of the Saber Guards involved a planetary defense of Kamino against rebel forces in the years prior to the Battle of Yavin. Acting in conjunction with the Imperial garrison stationed on the planet, Saber Guards infiltrated the Rebel flagship known as the Salvation, bringing the ship under Imperial control within minutes. Saber Guards also participated in the hunt for Galen Marek’s renegade clone on Kamino; however, they were eventually killed after engaging the clone in lightsaber combat.

Armor and Weaponry

Similar in appearance to the Imperial Royal Guard, Saber Guards utilized a gold-colored armor that provided maximum protection and mobility to the wearer. Furthermore, the guard’s helmet was designed for complete coverage of the head (similar to Mandalorian styles), providing the wearer with excellent protection while simultaneously concealing their identity through a white-glowing visor. In conjunction with their heavy armor, Saber Guards relied primarily on a pair of lightsabers that emitted red blades (making them a powerful opponent to any Force user, including Jedi).

Member of the Imperial Senate Guard engaging Starkiller (Darth Vader's secret apprentice).

Member of the Imperial Senate Guard engaging Starkiller (Darth Vader's secret apprentice).

Imperial Senate Guard

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Leader(s): Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: Unknown
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire

The Imperial Senate Guard was an elite unit of the Galactic Empire that originated from the Senate Guard of the Galactic Republic. Their primary role as guards was to protect senators as they traveled to Coruscant from around the galaxy, as well as ensure complete loyalty from the Imperial Senate towards newly appointed Emperor Palpatine. These highly-trained guards were supported by a sub-group known as the Imperial Senate Sentinels (discussed in greater detail below).

Training

Little is known about the training regimen of the Imperial Senate Guard as their appearances in the Star Wars universe have been limited. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that the Imperial Senate Guards were derived from the ranks of the Galactic Republic's Senate Guards, and were part of the Senate Building Security forces established on Coruscant. Classified as the lowest ranking members of the Emperor’s Guardsmen, Imperial Senate Guards were trained in a variety of martial art programs designed to counter nearly any foe (especially Jedi). This included extensive training with cortosis staffs which were specifically designed for lightsaber combat.

Duties

The primary duty of the Imperial Senate Guard was the protection of senators within the Galactic Empire. As with any member of the Imperial Guard, however, their loyalty to the Emperor superseded any other role, particularly when Palpatine was in imminent danger. Occasionally, Imperial Senate Guards served other roles as well. This included the guarding of important Imperial facilities, installations, and high-ranking officials within the Imperial military. They were also dispatched on occasion to hunt Force-sensitive individuals, and to assassinate enemies of Palpatine and the Galactic Empire. Two years before the Battle of Yavin, several Imperial Senate Guards were dispatched to locate (and eliminate) the Jedi known as Rahm Kota. Before they could accomplish their mission, however, they were quickly slain by Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, known as Starkiller.

Armor and Weaponry

Similar in their overall appearance to the Royal Guard, Imperial Senate Guards wore a combination of blue, black, and silver-based armor that provided moderate protection to the wearer. While lighter than the standard armor worn by Royal Guards and Shadow Guards, the attire was designed for maximum mobility (particularly during combat situations).

Imperial Senate Guards were also heavily armed, and were known to carry thermal detonators and the infamous cortosis staff. Most guards also carried personal energy shields that provided limited protection against lightsaber attacks. Combined, each of these elements made the Imperial Senate Guard a powerful opponent to nearly any adversary.

An Imperial Senate Sentinel standing guard near the former Jedi Temple.

An Imperial Senate Sentinel standing guard near the former Jedi Temple.

Imperial Senate Sentinels

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Leader(s): Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: Unknown
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire

Imperial Senate Sentinels were an elite division of the Imperial Senate Guard that were specifically trained to protect the former Jedi Temple from looters and returning Jedi. Although little is currently known about the Sentinels, it is believed that these guards were members of the Senate Building Security forces and were handpicked by the Emperor for their bravery and skill as Imperial Senate Guards.

Training

Almost nothing is known about the training program for Imperial Senate Sentinels. However, since many are believed to have been former members of the Imperial Senate Guard, it is likely they were trained extensively in a wide array of martial arts programs. As defenders of the former Jedi Temple on Coruscant, this included defensive (and offensive) maneuvers against Jedi Knights.

Duties

While the duty of all Imperial Guardsmen was the protection of Emperor Palpatine from danger, one of the primary roles of the Imperial Senate Sentinels was the protection of the former Jedi Temple from returning Jedi and potential looters. Protection of the ruins (following “Order 66”) was deemed crucial by the Emperor, as Palpatine wanted to preserve the secrets of the Jedi Order for himself alone. Palpatine rightly feared that the return of Jedi to the Temple would strengthen their abilities and connection to the Force. This was seen with Galen Marek (Starkiller), who visited the Temple on several occasions to further his training. While there, Marek was attacked by multiple Imperial Senate Sentinels that fought with an unparalleled ferocity.

Armor and Weaponry

The Imperial Senate Sentinels wore an armor that was a cross between the Senate Guards (of the Republic era) and Royal Guards. Their helmets were grey with a black visor, whereas their armor and robes took on a distinctly white and gray appearance. Completing their garb was a thick array of shoulder-based armor and gauntlets to provide upper-body protection.

As defenders against Jedi Knights, Sentinels were provided with powerful force pikes designed to inflict massive damage on opponents and to deflect lightsaber attacks. It is likely that the Sentinels also carried an array of secondary weapons under their robes, including blasters or thermal detonators like the Imperial Senate Guards.

Pair of Imperial Sentinels standing guard at the Emperor's palace.

Pair of Imperial Sentinels standing guard at the Emperor's palace.

Imperial Sentinels

  • First Appearance: Dark Empire 2: Devastator of Worlds
  • Leader(s): Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: 19 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin)
  • Affiliation: Galactic Empire; Dark Empire

Imperial Sentinels were an elite race of beings cloned by Emperor Palpatine and his inner-circle to be totally subservient to the will of Dark Side Adepts. Originally created on the planet Byss, these guards were known for their tremendous size, skill, and abilities as bodyguards for the Empire. Little is known about their origins; however, it is believed that their large size was the result of chemical injections that simultaneously increased body size (during the early cloning stages) while also “suppressing higher mental abilities” from occurring (starwars.fandom.com). This, in turn, made Imperial Sentinels extremely capable opponents in battle, while also ensuring complete loyalty to the Emperor and his Adepts.

Training

Imperial Sentinels were trained extensively in a variety of martial arts programs, beast-riding, as well as the use of blasters. However, due to their mental reliance on Dark Side Adepts, their ability to “think” or “move” was wholly dependent upon the will of their master. Through this mental bond, it was even rumored that Adepts possessed the ability to “view what Sentinels perceived, thus allowing them to maintain complete control of the titans” (starwars.fandom.com). Nevertheless, if a mental connection was broken between a Dark Side Adept and Imperial Sentinel, these massive guards were virtually worthless as they lacked the ability to act or think on their own. Following this logic, Sentinels were only as powerful (and skilled) as their masters.

Duties

Although the primary function of Imperial Sentinels was the protection of Dark Side Adepts and Emperor Palpatine himself, these massive beings were occasionally tasked with guarding key military institutions around the galaxy. This included the Emperor’s Citadel on Byss, as well as private areas of the Imperial Palace. Sentinels were also used on top-secret or high-priority missions sanctioned by Palpatine, and would often be seen escorting Adepts off-world. They were also known to take custody of Jedi, and to guard top-secret ships (or superweapons) such as the Emperor’s Eclipse, Eclipse II, as well as the notorious Galaxy Gun.

Armor and Weaponry

Due to their tremendous size and strength (often twice the size of standard Imperial Royal Guards), Imperial Sentinels were able to wear heavy body armor that encased the length of their bodies. This provided them with maximum protection against nearly any weapon or adversary. Covering their armor plating was a reddish-purple cloak that was covered in gold emblems on the shoulders, back, and chest. Completing their garb was a massive helmet that provided total concealment of their head, neck, and face. While no part of their body was left uncovered, their glowing red eyes remained constantly visible beneath the darkness of their helmet; adding to their intimidating stature.

Members of the Elite Praetorian Guard standing watch over Supreme Leader Snoke.

Members of the Elite Praetorian Guard standing watch over Supreme Leader Snoke.

Elite Praetorian Guard

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Leader(s): Supreme Leader Snoke
  • Date Founded: Unknown
  • Affiliation: First Order

The Elite Praetorian Guard was a unit of the First Order first seen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The guard consisted of eight warriors divided into four pairs. Out of these eight guards, there existed three warriors designated the First, Third, and Seventh Guard (respectively) who specialized in specific forms of melee combat. Although the Praetorian Guard isn’t “officially” part of the Galactic Empire, their training, appearance, and purpose were all heavily influenced by the Imperial Royal Guards (hence their appearance on this list).

Training

Little is known about the training program developed for Praetorian Guards. However, it is believed that they may have been hand-picked from the First Order’s Stormtrooper ranks (similar to the Emperor’s Imperial Guard in decades prior). Training for the Praetorian Guard was also heavily focused on learning a variety of martial art forms, including Teras Kasi. This was a crucial element of the guard’s duties, as it provided them with the ability to counter nearly any threat (including an attack by Force-sensitive users). These martial art forms were further augmented by special training in lightsaber defense, as well as melee combat.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, training was heavily centered on creating a sense of unwavering loyalty and devotion to Supreme Leader Snoke. As seen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this sense of loyalty was so strong that members of the Elite Praetorian Guard continued to fight even when Snoke had been slain by Kylo Ren.

Duties

The primary duty of the Elite Praetorian Guard was the protection of Supreme Leader Snoke from outside (or internal) threats. The Guard followed Snoke wherever he ventured, with their primary duty station being Snoke’s personal throne room aboard the flagship known as the Supremacy. Little is known about their activities outside of this role, or if they carried out secret (or critical) missions for Snoke (like the Emperor’s Royal Guard did during the reign of the Galactic Empire). Given their small number, however, it is likely that their role as a guardsmen was relatively limited.

Armor and Weaponry

The Elite Praetorian Guard was equipped with crimson armor and robes, along with a plastoid helmet that incorporated the same materials as Darth Vader’s armor. Their armor is often described as “onion-like” in that it followed a layered appearance, providing a maximum layer of protection against attacks. Furthermore, the armor consisted of conductive wirepaths that created powerful magnetic fields that could deflect both blaster fire and lightsaber attacks (starwars.fandom.com).

In addition to their powerful armor, the Elite Praetorian Guard (combined) possessed a large array of melee weapons. These included vibro-voulges, electro-bisentos, Bilari electro-chain whips, and double-bladed vibro-arbir blades. Of these weapons, the First Guard specialized in wielding the electro-bisento, while the Third and Seventh Guards wielded electro-chain whips and vibro-arbir bades, respectively. Combined, the eight Praetorian Guards were an extremely powerful force capable of subduing nearly any opponent. Nevertheless, their tremendous skills ultimately proved futile against Kylo Ren and Rey following the death of Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Pictured above is a Sovereign Protector from the Final Order.

Pictured above is a Sovereign Protector from the Final Order.

Sovereign Protectors (Final Order)

  • First Appearance: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Leader(s): Darth Sidious
  • Date Founded: Unknown
  • Affiliation: Final Order; Sith Eternal Army

Sovereign Protectors served as the personal bodyguard of Darth Sidious, and were fanatically devoted to the Final Order and Sith cause. Although little is known about their origins and training, the Sovereign Protector’s primary purpose was the guarding of Darth Sidious at his secret Sith Citadel on the planet Exegol.

Training

Almost nothing is known about the training involved with becoming a Sovereign Protector within the Final Order. However, numerous sources believe that selection processes for these elite soldiers was extremely similar to the Galactic Empire. If this is true, Sovereign Protectors were likely chosen from the ranks of Sith Troopers within the Sith Eternal Army for their bravery, discipline, and loyalty to Darth Sidious. Likewise, training likely involved a great deal of martial arts training (in a variety of forms), as well as extensive practice in melee and ranged combat. Combined, these skills provided Sovereign Protectors with the ability to stop a wide array of adversaries.

Duties

The primary duty of the Sovereign Protector was ensuring the safety of Darth Sidious on the hidden world of Exegol. As such, Sovereign Protectors were assigned (exclusively) to the Sith Citadel’s throne room, where they maintained constant oversight over their master. Due to their secretive existence alongside Palpatine, it currently remains unknown whether these elite guards served other purposes within the Final Order and Sith Eternal Army. Given that their rank was similar to that of the Imperial Royal Guard of prior years, however, it is likely that they served a prominent role within the Final Order’s military.

Armor and Weaponry

Sovereign Protectors maintained strong similarities to Sith Troopers in their overall equipment and armor. Their overall armor was both red and black. They also possessed helmets that resembled the Sith Trooper design, but were differentiated by a shielded “lip” that resembled wet-weather gear (starwars.fandom.com). Furthermore, Sovereign Protectors were known to utilize a full-body cape similar in appearance to the Imperial Royal Guard.

In regard to weaponry, the Sovereign Protectors utilized a two-pronged blaster rifle as their primary weapon-of-choice. Following traditions within the Royal Guard, it is also likely that the Sovereign Protectors incorporated a secondary blaster, as well as a melee-based weapon for self-defense.

Carnor Jax (right) fights against fellow guardsmen, Kir Kanos (left).

Carnor Jax (right) fights against fellow guardsmen, Kir Kanos (left).

Notable Members of the Imperial Royal Guard

Carnor Jax

Carnor Jax was a Royal Guard that attained the rank of “Imperial Sovereign Protector” during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Jax possessed an unwavering ambition, however, that superseded his loyalty to Emperor Palpatine. Following the death of Darth Vader and Palpatine aboard the second Death Star, Jax played a key role in destroying the remaining Royal Guards with a surprise attack on Yinchorr (the official training grounds for the guard). Jax also ensured that each of Palpatine’s clones were eliminated in order to provide an open-door to the throne. Before this could occur, however, Jax was slain by a fellow guardsmen known as Kir Kanos.

Kir Kanos

Kir Kanos was a member of the Emperor’s Royal Guard during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Considered extremely loyal and devoted to Palpatine and his regime, Kanos later became one of the most-wanted fugitives in the galaxy following the death of Vader and the Emperor onboard the second Death Star. As former guardsmen Carnor Jax (along with several would-be successors) tried to usurp control of the Galactic Empire for themselves (decimating the remaining ranks of the Royal Guard in the process), Kanos vowed to destroy Jax along with everyone that played a role in Palpatine’s demise. With difficulty (and help from several allies within the New Republic), Kanos later killed Jax during a spirited engagement between the pair. Following the death of Jax, Kanos later played a vital role in the assassination of Xandel Carivus, who was head of the Imperial Ruling Council and the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Imperial Remnant.

Questions and Answers

Are Royal Guards Force Sensitive?

Yes and no. While most members of the Imperial Royal Guard were not Force sensitive, advanced ranks (such as the Emperor’s Shadow Guard and Imperial Sovereign Protectors) were highly skilled in the art of Force manipulation. It was these abilities that made them especially deadly and skilled. For these reasons, members of the Shadow Guard and Imperial Sovereign Protectors were often sent on dangerous missions to eliminate Force users or renegade Jedi (following “Order 66”).

How Powerful Were the Imperial Royal Guards?

Imperial Royal Guards were extremely powerful opponents in combat due to their tremendous skill, aptitude, and (in rarer situations) Force abilities. As a result, most adversaries fared little chance against the Royal Guard in one-on-one matches. Exceptions to this, however, are Jedi and Force-sensitive users who either matched the Royal Guards in skill or simply dispatched them with ease. For example, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice (Starkiller) encountered the Emperor’s Royal Guard (along with the infamous Shadow Guard) on numerous occasions. In each event, Starkiller eliminated the guard’s within moments of their arrival. In spite of these issues, Imperial Royal Guards were extremely deadly opponents that could counter most adversaries.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, the Galactic Empire, First Order, and Final Order employed a number of guards for protection of the Emperor, Imperial Senate, and key government facilities. Highly trained in a variety of martial art forms, and experts in melee-combat, Royal Guards served an important function within each of these factions of the Star Wars universe. While not as deadly (or powerful) as a Jedi Knight or Sith Lord, these elite guardsmen deserve tremendous respect for their steadfast devotion, loyalty, and skill. Combined, each of these characteristics make Royal Guards a unique component to the Star Wars canon (and Legends) that is unparalleled.

Works Cited

Articles:

Images:

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© 2020 Larry Slawson