Spanish Royal Guard

Independent regiment of the Spanish Armed Forces
Royal Guard
Guardia Real
Emblem of the Spanish Royal Guard.svg
Country Spain
TypeInfantry, cavalry and horse artillery
RoleExecutive protection
Foot Guards
Honor guard
Size1,500 troops (1 regiment)
Part ofSpanish Armed Forces
Garrison/HQRoyal Palaces
Motto(s)Al servicio de la Corona
("At the service of the Crown")
MarchHimno de la Guardia Real
("Hymn of the Royal Guards")
AnniversariesOctober 12
General Prim
General Castaños
Military unit

The Royal Guard (Spanish: Guardia Real) is an independent regiment of the Spanish Armed Forces that is dedicated to the protection of the King of Spain and members of the Spanish Royal Family. It currently has a strength of 1,500 troops.[1] While the guard does participate in parades and other ceremonial events, it is a fully functional combat unit. Its members are recruited from the ranks of all three branches of the Spanish Armed Forces and receive the same combat training as regular soldiers.

The guard contains a diverse mix of units: a Royal Marines company from the Navy, a paratroop company from the Air and Space Force and an infantry company from the Army, among others. Some units served in recent times in Afghanistan and Bosnia.


King Ferdinand of Aragon being escorted by Castile's Royal Guard during the swearing of the Fueros in Guernica in 1476 as Lord of Biscay

The history of the Royal Guard dates back to medieval times. The senior unit and one of the oldest body guards in the world is the Corps of Gentlemen of the Chamber, the Monteros de Espinosa, dating to 1006 and created by Sancho Garcia of the House of Castile.

Even before the time of the first monarch of Spain, the Catholic Monarchs formed the group called the Guardias Viejas de Castilla ("Old Guards of Castile"). Later on, the first monarch of Spain, Charles V ordered that a company of those guards to reside and continuously stand guard in his palace, denominating it Los Cien Continos ("The Continuous Hundred").

Official formation

Later on, Charles V's father, Philip the Handsome arrived in Spain in 1502 brought with him his Guardia Borgoñona ("Burgundian Guards"). They were also called the Guardia de los Archeros (aka Guardia de Cuchilla > "Guards of the Blade") because they were armed with a glaive-type polearm called an archa, not because they were archers (arqueros). Their purpose was to secure the royal household by standing guard or patrolling the grounds on horseback. These group of Royal Guards with their Burgundian style, together with two units of alabarderos ("halberdiers"), will remain in service until the reorganization of the "Troops of the Royal Household" (Tropas de Casa Real) by Philip V. During his reign, the royal guards were organized into:

  • Headquarters
  • Royal Guards Halberdiers
  • Royal Carabinier Guards
  • Musketeers of the Royal Guards
  • Guards de Corps (organized as a squadron)
  • Two Guards infantry regiments (Walloon Guards and Guards of Spain)

In the 19th century the guards were reinforced by the Spanish Marine Infantry, which formed its own unit.

In 1824-25 the Guard was expanded into a full independent army group reporting to the sovereign and the Royal Military Household with two full corps following the example of France's Napoleonic Imperial Guard and Borbon Restorationist Royal Guards:

  • Internal Royal Guards Corps
    • Halberdiers
Lt Gen José Cavalcanti in the uniform of commandant-general of the Corps of Royal Guards Halberdiers (Alfonso XIII's reign)
    • Guards of the Royal Household
      • Guards de Corps
      • Infantry units
  • External Royal Guards Corps
    • 1st Guards Infantry Division
      • 1st and 2nd Guards Infantry Brigades, organized into two to three regiments of infantry
    • 1st Guards Cavalry Division
      • 1st and 2nd Guards Cavalry Brigades
    • Royal Horse Artillery Battery
    • Train Company
    • Royal Guard Company of Sappers and Miners
  • 2nd Guards Infantry Division (Provincial)
    • Royal Guard Grenadiers Brigade
    • Royal Guards Rifle Brigade

In the 1840s only the internal units of the Royal Guards remained as the others were disbanded or transferred to the regular Army. In 1868 the Halberdiers stood down, only to be reformed under King Amadeo I as the Royal Guard Battalion of one infantry company and one cavalry troop and revived as a full battalion under his successor Alfonso XII.

Civil War

The guards were disbanded in 1931 as a result of the formation of the 2nd Republic and was replaced by the "Presidential Horse Guards Squadron" (Escuadrón de Escolta Presidencial), which was a cavalry formation. By 1936, it included the infantry "Presidential Guards Battalion" (batallón de Guardia Presidencial), which remained loyal to the Republic during the civil war.


Under Francisco Franco, By Decree of February 4, 1949, the Military House of the Generalissimo was reorganized and on the basis of the republican formations the "Regiment of the Guards of His Excellency the Head of State" (Regimiento de la Guardia de Su Excelencia el Jefe del Estado), later on the "Guards Regiment of HE the Generalissimo" (Regimiento de la Guardia de S.E. el Generalísimo), was activated, which included a mounted squadron (the Guardia Mora) which was first raised from surplus personnel of the Regulares. After several reorganizations, the unit would last until Franco's death as a combined arms guard regiment.

Upon Franco’s death & the ascension of King Juan Carlos as the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, the guard regiment was integrated into the new army under the king & formed the basis of what is now the modern day Guardia Real - the "Royal Guards Regiment" (Regimento de la Guardia Real), which is responsible to the king thru the Ministry of Defense.[2] In the 1980s it grew into a three-battalion regiment. Today it is a four battalion unit that serves as the protocol and security service of the Spanish Royal Family.


King Juan Carlos I inspecting the Royal Guard during the 2009 Pascua Militar

The primary function of the Royal guard is to provide military security for the Monarchy. In addition to protecting members of Spanish Royal Family, the present functions of the unit include the protection of foreign heads of state visiting Spain, and of royal palaces such as the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real), the Palace of El Pardo and the Palace of Zarzuela.

The regiment is an active combat unit and has been deployed to Bosnia and Afghanistan.[3][4][5] The guard regularly takes part in military exercises organized in conjunction with all three of the main branches of Spains military.

It is involved in the guard mounting ceremony (Cambio de la Guardia) at the Royal Palace on the first Wednesday of every month from 12 midday to 2pm (save for July, August and September).[6] It is present at military parades in the national capital of Madrid on official holidays including Fiesta Nacional de España and Día de la Constitución. Annually, it has a troop review during the Pascua Militar ceremony on 6 January.


Royal Guards at the main entrance of the Palacio Real
Guard change at the Palacio Real
Colours of the Marine company of the Royal Guard
  • Commander of the Royal Guard (Colonel)
  • General Staff
    • Personnel Logistics (1st SEM)
    • Institutional Affairs (2nd SEM)
    • Security and Intelligence, Preparation and Employment (3rd SEM)
    • Material and Infrastructure Logistics (4th SEM)
    • Economic Affairs Section (SAE)
    • Occupational Risk Prevention Service (SPRL)
    • Legal Advisor (ASEJU)
    • Office of the Sergeant Major of the Royal Guard (SBMY)
    • Religious Service (SRELG)
    • Secretary
  • Group HQ
    • HQ Company
    • Security Company
      • 1st Security platoon
      • 2nd Security platoon
      • 3rd Security platoon
      • 4th Security platoon
    • Communications Company
    • Formation Company
      • 1st platoon
      • 2nd platoon
      • 3rd platoon
      • 4th platoon
  • Escorts Group
    • Group HQ
    • Military Control Company
      • Perimeter Control Section
      • Interior Control Section
      • Bomb Detection/Attack Dog Section
      • Motorcycle Section
    • Alabarderos (Halberdiers) Company
      • 1st Immediate Security Section
      • 2nd Immediate Security Section
      • Alabarderos Section
    • Royal Escort Squadron
    • Royal Horse Artillery Battery
    • Equestrian Training Unit
  • Honors Group
    • Group HQ
    • Army Company "Monteros de Espinosa"
      • 1st Platoon
      • 2nd Platoon
      • 3rd Platoon
      • Drill Team Platoon
    • Navy and Marine Composite Company "Mar Océano"
      • 1st Platoon
      • 2nd Platoon
      • 3rd Platoon
      • 4th platoon
    • Air and Space Force Squadron "Plus Ultra"
      • 1st Flight
      • 2nd Flight
      • 3rd Flight
      • 4th Flight
    • Mountaineering Group
    • Diving Unit
    • Sniper Unit
  • Logistics Group
    • Group HQ
    • Administration Company
    • Maintenance Company
    • Transportation Company
    • Logistics Directorates
    • Medical Unit
  • Musical Unit of the Armed Forces Royal Guard

List of commanders


NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Spanish Royal Guard
  • v
  • t
  • e
Coronel Teniente Coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez Various
Coronel Teniente coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Spanish Royal Guard
  • v
  • t
  • e
Greal7.png Greal8.png Greal9.png Greal10.png Greal11.png Greal12.png Greal13.png Greal14.png Greal15.png Greal16.png
Suboficial mayor Subteniente Brigada Sargento primero Sargento Cabo mayor Cabo primero Cabo Soldado de primera Soldado

See also

  • Garde du Corps (France)
  • Republican Guard (France)
  • National Republican Guard (Portugal)
  • King's Guard, British equivalent


  1. ^ redacción, La. "San Juan El Precursor de Cristo Rey". Retrieved 2020-02-19.
  2. ^ Reseña histórica
  3. ^ La Guardia del Rey
  4. ^ Misiones internacionales
  5. ^ Coronel Salom: «La Guardia Real debe compaginar tradición con la más absoluta modernidad»
  6. ^ [1] Archived February 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Spanish Royal Guard.
  • Official website of the Royal Guard (in Spanish)
  • v
  • t
  • e
  • Chief of the Defence Staff
  • Chief of Staff of the Army
  • Chief of Staff of the Navy
  • Chief of Staff of the Air and Space Force
  • Ministry of Defence