The police protection accorded to ex-PM Tony Blair is reported to be nearly double the annual figure of £135,000 claimed by Gordon Brown and when this was queried, Tony and Cherie Blair were not amused. This got me thinking about the role of the bodyguard in general, through history and today, and the emergence of the latest creation, the CyberBodyGuard.
In Ancient Rome, the Praetorian Guard was formed by the emperor Augustus, 1n 31 BC, to help prevent assassins from reaching the emperor and murdering him as Brutus and his companions had murdered Julius Caesar. This cohort is said to have been first formed by Scipio Africanus out of the bravest troops, whom he exempted from all their duties except guarding his person. The Praetorian Guard protected Emperors of Rome for hundreds of years before Emperor Constantine ended their role in 300 AD, because they had become corrupt and ruthless.
The Swiss Guardwas first formed in 1474, by Louis XI, to guard the Royal Families of European Courts, and the Papal Swiss Guard was formed to protect the Pope and leading Vatican officials. The Papal Swiss Guard always take an oath of loyalty to the Pope and their role persists to the present day.
The US Secret Service was formed in 1901 after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. These men are sworn to protect the President and his family, ex-Presidents, other notable members of the US government and their families, and important visiting foreign dignitaries. The USSS was formed in 1865, by Abraham Lincoln, to prevent counterfeiting, a rapidly growing problem. Abe Lincoln’s Presidency ended in his assassination, but it took another 36 years and the assassination of two more Presidents, James A. Garfield and William McKinley, before the role of protecting the life of the President was added to the Service’s list of duties.
The Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Departments, (the RDPD), in the UK, allocates one specific person each to protect the Prime Minister and each member of the Royal Family. In certain cases, their bodyguards number more than one. The security of the Queen was stepped up after an incident in 1982, when an intruder, Michael Fagan, broke into Buckingham Palace, entered the Queen’s bedroom, and sat on her bed for 15 minutes, holding a huge jagged piece of glass. The Queen now has round the clock 24 hour protection.
The Screen International Security Services provides security for some of the most famous faces in Hollywood. Founded by Avei Korein, a one time bouncer, the SISS has protected such stellar faces as Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, the list goes on. Acts of violence and political threats aren’t the only offences faced in providing personal security. Stalking and personal harassment are just as dangerous because they spring from serious psychological disorders.
The CyberBodyGuard (the CBG) is a new phenomenon, but with the prevalence of Facebook, Twitter, and the power of the internet, particularly in politics, the CBG is a necessary creation. Certain political figures inspire such loyalty that websites are erected to promote their ideas, and the owners of these websites are CyberBodyGuards (sometimes self apppointed.) Bloggers who consistently support one particular party are also CBGs.
Modern politics has illustrated the power of the internet in elections and the emergence of smear campaigns, and the spreading of false rumours. It is the duty of the CBG to guard the reputation of person they are protecting from these smears and to fight false rumours by putting the truth out into cyberspace. Members of the USSS would take a bullet to protect the President. No CBG has ever had to take a bullet, but should it ever become possible to send one in cyberspace, the convictions of CBGs are so deeply rooted, it is likely they will accept the danger as part of the job.