In Rogue One we see Darth Vader bathing in a bacta tank in his castle on Mustafar. He appears to be chaperoned by members of the Emperor's own personal guards with their distinctive red robes.

Vader tank

The only time that I've ever seen these guards is in the company of Emperor Palpatine himself. I also don't recall ever seeing Vader with personal guards of any kind before.

Why did Vader have the Imperial Guards in this instance? Is this the only example we have of someone using the Guards apart from the Emperor himself?

  • I was wondering about this the other day, glad someone asked the question as I completely forgot. At the time I saw this scene I thought it odd, especially because I can't reconcile Darth Vader letting anyone , save his attendant, see him in his private meditation chamber / Bacta tank. Jan 5, 2017 at 14:35
  • Because they look cool.
    – Boelabaal
    Mar 28, 2017 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


Vader is relatively vulnerable while in the bacta tank, so it makes sense to protect him with the Royal Guard. If Vader was ever attacked while in the bacta tank, the guards could defend him until Vader got back into his armor.

Although we do not see the Royal Guards protecting Vader in his meditation chamber on Vader's flagship Executor, Vader's castle on Mustafar is much more secluded (and therefore less protected) than Vader's flagship. There are plenty of stormtroopers on Executor to protect Vader whenever he is meditating on his flagship.

Vader's castle on Mustafar is where Vader lives, so Vader would likely need to receive transmissions from Palpatine regarding Sith business. That means the guards there would know of Palpatine's secret (that he, too, is a Sith Lord), and only the Royal Guard is trusted to know that secret:

[Vader] seldom saw his Master so publicly demonstrate his power. And he understood what it meant, of course. There must be no survivors who could bear witness. Only the Royal Guards could be allowed to live—only they could be trusted never to reveal what they’d seen, or even to talk about it among themselves.

Lords of the Sith, p. 168

Hence only the Royal Guard could be trusted to protect Vader at his home. Stormtroopers, security droids, etc. could not be sufficiently trusted.

As far as I know, this is the only instance in which the Royal Guards are seen guarding someone other than the Emperor. Even so, the Guards are largely ceremonial since the Emperor can protect himself.

  • 5
    It seems odd that Palpatine would want to keep his Sith powers secret, whereas Vader is free to run around the galaxy deflecting blaster bolts and choking people to death. Jan 5, 2017 at 15:47
  • 3
    @DaaaahWhoosh It makes plenty of sense to me.
    – Null
    Jan 5, 2017 at 15:49
  • 2
    I'm really curious: what's the context of that quote? Jan 5, 2017 at 16:54
  • 6
    @DVK-in-Florida He's running out of limbs to lose. He's got to learn sometime!
    – Null
    Jan 5, 2017 at 17:02
  • 3
    @Salmononius2 A shuttle carrying the Emperor, Vader, and some Royal Guards had been shot down. The Sith Lords and their guards were being strafed by rebels, so Palpatine drew his lightsaber to deflect the blaster bolts along with Vader. Palpatine also used Force Lightning against the attacking rebel craft.
    – Null
    Jan 5, 2017 at 17:04

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