From Lords of the Sith:

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.

Here, "what they'd seen" refers to Palpatine using his Sith powers.

Is there any discussion as to how Vader and Palpatine are able to trust them so fully?

  • 2
    I always asumed they were Force-brainwashed. The secrecy is so important that there seems to be no other way.
    – Mixxiphoid
    Feb 20, 2017 at 5:59
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    If you're interested in any explanation from pre-Disney, Legacy canon, then the Crimson Empire series published by Dark Horse cover the training and indoctrination of a crimson Royal/Imperial Guard, and covered how he dealt with his intense loyalty to Palpatine after the events at the end of Return of the Jedi. starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Crimson_Empire
    – GAThrawn
    Feb 20, 2017 at 13:23
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    The real question, what were they protecting the Emperor FROM? Were there internal threats? Assassination attempts? Seems like they were mostly ceremonial in nature.
    – Jason K
    Feb 21, 2017 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


As pointed out in the comments, as far as EU resources go, the Crimson Empire graphic novel is probably the place to look.

The book describes the training process of the Imperial Guard in great detail. The training is, as one would expect, kind of brutal. Only the toughest and most loyal recruits make it to the end - the others die.

In the book it is implied that out of an initial group of around 40 recruits, only 2 make it to the royal guard. So you have to be pretty convinced of the cause from the beginning, if you are willing to take those odds.

The only consolation that the recruits have is that they are trained in pairs, so they can always rely on their training partner:

For the past year you have trained in pairs -- living as close as brothers -- learning to rely on one another and to work together. By seeing the strengths in your training partner, you have learned to build those strengths in yourself. By seeing his weaknesses, you have learned to overcome your own.

-- Words from one of the instructors on the final day of training

Of course, there is a catch to all this. In a final test before Palpatine himself, the training partners are put to an unexpected duel. Only if they are willing to kill their partner on the Emperor's order, they are deemed worthy to join the guard.

The cover of the second issue depicts such a fight to the death between training partners:

Cover of Crimson Empire #2

So yeah, you basically have to prove that you are willing to kill your brother at the whim of the emperor. Seems loyal enough to me.

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    So the emperor surrounds himself with people who are only half as strong as they could be, with the possible resentment of being forced to kill their brother. Sounds dumb.
    – Seeds
    Feb 20, 2017 at 20:09
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    Well, this is the Emperor whose "legion of my best troops" were taken down by teddy bears. Palpatine sounds like exactly the person to prize loyalty over ability.
    – ench
    Feb 20, 2017 at 21:17
  • Thank you! Now I'm torn. This is exactly the sort of answer I was looking for, but the other one feels so much more satisfying. Nnngggg...
    – JETM
    Feb 20, 2017 at 21:41
  • 1
    Apparently you need to be a power ranger...
    – LarsTech
    Feb 21, 2017 at 15:49
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    but a guard who would kill his comrade would kill you... kind of an antithesis of loyalty if you ask me.
    – jmbmage
    Feb 21, 2017 at 19:38

They were incredibly, fiercely loyal.

Take a look into our own history and look into the SS, the Schutzstaffel. They started as the guards responsible for protecting Hitler and the higher ups, and ended up growing into something...bigger.

The SS-Totenkopfverbände were responsible for running the concentration camp system, perhaps the largest war crime in history.

The SS-Verfügungstruppe operated specifically at the orders of Hitler, and following the Führerprinzip, they were incredibly loyal to Hitler.

The Waffen-SS were the military arm of the SS as part of the Wehrmacht, with the most infamous being the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler." Named after their dear leader, the 1st SS Panzer was completely populated by the most completely loyal soldiers to the Nazi party.

With an entire country to pick from, and decades of time available to hand picking and training and indoctrinating the SS, the Nazis had a fiercely loyal group of men, willing to die at the Führer's orders, willing to do anything for the Fatherland. No war crime was too dirty, no task too deadly, no suicide mission too grim for these men. They were responsible for the Holocaust, and for the equivalent liquidation of Soviets, without question.

And they did all this without The Force.

With an entire galaxy of troops, and decades to hand pick his guards...Palpatine could certainly make an equivalently loyal set of guards; with the Force as his ally, he'd be able to actually detect and quantify their loyalty, and weed out any who didn't match up to snuff. He certainly could have Force-Brainwashed them...but the problem with brainwashed people is that they don't function 100%. What you need are indoctrinated cultists; people so deep into the Kool-Aid that they are willing to ignore anything out of their imposed worldview, to worship a single man, and to accept anything he does as morally right and lawful.

...sadly, it's not that hard to do it.

I don't know of anything in canon to support this, but I've recently read a book in Legends to support this. In Specter of the Past, we meet up with Grodin Tierce, the clone of a Royal Guardsman. The clone says this about the Royal Guards:

A Royal Guardsman never seeks special privileges, ever. His entire goal in life is to serve the Emperor, and the New Order he created. This is his goal in life, and his desire in death.

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    But do you have citations from the novels or movies or other EU content which support what you said?
    – RichS
    Feb 20, 2017 at 7:43
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    Tiny correction: "Schutzstaffel" - we write the sh sound with a c in German.
    – Tom
    Feb 20, 2017 at 9:52
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    @RichS That feels as unimportant as their shoes sizes. They are capital L Loyal, that's the part important to the story. More importantly, does anything contradict this? Such loyalty is a recognizable pattern, likely to have been produced in the ways Zoey described, the Force just being another tool to that end. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we are free to fanfic any backstory, but whatever it is, this phenomenon will also play a role.
    – kaay
    Feb 20, 2017 at 10:42
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    @kaay I wasn't asking about their shoe sizes (Why did you mention that?) or about their loyalty. I was asking if Zoey Bales had references to support her answer. If there is no canon evidence to support her answer, then the best answer is "we don't know" rather than "let's make up fanfic to support whatever we want".
    – RichS
    Feb 21, 2017 at 5:45
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    @RichS , there were two questions asked: "Why were the Red Guards so trusted?" and "Is there any discussion as to how Vader and Palpatine are able to trust them so fully?" I only knew of one Legends reference so I couldn't opine on question 2... but I also recognized the intentional similarities between the Empire and the Nazis/Imperial Japanese (as Star Wars are just "War Movies In Space"). At least in the strict movie canon, you're supposed to walk in with the pre-expectation of how these guards would work, which is where this answer comes from... it's a little more than a "fanfic."
    – Zoey Green
    Feb 21, 2017 at 6:49

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