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Royalty Protection Group (S014)

SO14 Royalty Protection Group is a component of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Protection Command. SO14 is responsible for guarding the Royal Family and associated residences and consists of a number of sections, namely Personal and Close Protection, Residential Protection and the Special Escort Group.

Personal And Close Protection

Armed Personal Protection Officers (PPO) protect select members of the Royal Family, both at home and abroad. SO14 bodyguards operate in plainclothes and are routinely armed with 9mm Glock 17 pistols. They discretly carry their pistol, radio and a first aid kit on their person.

SO14 PPOs undergo an extensive training and selection course. They are trained in the use of firearms and unarmed combat, advanced driving and emergency first aid as well as close protection basics such as walking in formation, venue recce, arrivals and departures, event management etc.

Prince Charles bodyguards
Photo: bodyguards protecting Prince Charles.
Photo by Flickr user CarolynMCash | used with thanks under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License

SO14 also provides protection for members of European Royal families visiting the United Kingdom

Over the years, SO14's Personal Protection Officers have been involved in several high profile incidents:

  • January 26th, 1994
    When Prince Charles was giving a speech in Sydney, a protestor, David Kang, rushed the stage and fired two blank rounds from a starter's pistol before being subdued. Superintendent Bob Trimming, the Prince's senior bodyguard received a gallantry medal for his cool and quick thinking during the incident.
    Attempted Assassination Of Prince Charles
    (Youtube video of the incident)

  • June 16th, 2000
    A Royalty Protection Group officer accidentally fired 2 shots from his Glock 9mm pistol while onboard the Royal Train. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were onboard at the time.
    Gun fired on royal train
    (BBC News report)

Residential Protection

Uniformed SO14 officers guard Royal residences in London, Windsor and Scotland, including protecting the general public who visit them.

Special Escort Group (SEG)

This unit provides additional security for when members of the Royal Household are on the move. The Special Escort Group includes armed motorcycle riders who guard motorcades carrying members of the Royal Family. A motorcade protected by the SEG may also include marked and umarked vehicles containing armed policemen.

The SEG also provides protection for visiting dignitaries as well as high risk prisoners and high value loads. On occasion, they may provide motorcycle outriders for the British Prime Minister's motorcade.

SEG deploy motorcycle outriders to clear the route ahead of a motorcade. This is often achieved by blocking junctions or traffic lanes. The goal of the SEG outriders is to enable the VIP convoy to keep moving - thereby avoiding presenting a stationary target to would be attackers - while causing minimal disruption to the public. One outrider, known as the 'Easy Rider', stays directly ahead of the lead vehicle at all times while the other riders - the 'Working Bikes' - are constantly leap-frogging ahead to control the traffic and clear a path for the convoy. All SEG vehicles in a convoy communicate via a dedicated radio channel.

SEG outriders use Honda VFR 1200 motorcycles, typically painted in a plain white livery. The bikes have flashing blue lights but no sirens. The riders instead blow whistles to alert and signal the pedestrians and drivers around them (who are so desensitised to sirens that they effectively ignore them).

SEG riders are armed, typically with a Glock 17 9mm pistol. SEG officers travelling in vehicles as part of a VIP motorcade are thought to sometimes carry MP5 SF2 carbine, a single-fire variant of the renowned 9mm sub-machine gun.

Prince Charles bodyguards
A Special Escort Group 'Easy Rider' leads a motorcade carrying Prime Minister Gordon Brown as he leaves downing street for the last time, May 11th, 2011.
Photo by Flickr user Bob Bob | used with thanks under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License

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