History of Executive Protection

History Executive Protection

The History Executive Protection spans over two thousand years and has assisted in influencing many cultures throughout the world. Many of the most well known executive protection specialists include the Samurais of Japan, the Medieval Knights all over Europe, and the Vatican’s Swiss Guard. The earliest protection organizations were most often military divisions assigned to protect one individual.

One of the earliest acknowledged examples of an executive protection is the Praetorian Guard who began as a select group of bodyguards for Roman generals in the 2nd century BC and eventually developed into a protective force for Roman emperors. As the Praetorian Guard grew, they had gained enough power to ultimately effect the appointment of emperors; thus, becoming labeled as disruptive and were disbanded by Constantine I in 312 AD.

Praetorian Guard Standing Post

Another well known group of protection specialists were the Yeomen of the Guard, established by King Henry VII in 1485. The Yeomen’s primary focus was to serve as the organization that provided personal protection for the ruler of England. Originally, the Yeomen provided security for the ruler while in transit to battle or overseas.  With time the Yeomen took on the additional duties of guarding the palace entrances and tasting the food of the ruler.

The Yeoman of the Guard is still in existence today. The United States has a modern form of Executive Protection.  In 1865 the U.S. developed the Secret Service which is still used today.  Originally, the Secret Service was created to investigate currency counterfeiting crimes and did not truly take on EP efforts until 1894.

Beginning as an informal part-time agency until 1901 when Congress invited the Secret Service to provide protection for the president.  The need for presidential protection arose following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.

Full-time commitment for presidential protection was acquired by the secret service in 1902. In a more contemporary form, Executive Protection no longer relies on resources and powers of law enforcement and federal government.  The separation is attributed to innovative techniques of mid-20th century corporations developing security departments.  Within these security departments protection for top company executives was provided.

Initially, Executive Protection Specialists were chosen from organizations like the Secret Service, police departments, and military personnel. Eventually Executive Protection Specialists were able to ascend above the ranks of corporate security.  These protection specialists began developing skills specifically pertinent to Executive Protection work; this derived from attending Executive Protection training programs/schools.  These training facilities and schools were becoming

increasingly common in the early 1980’s.Secret Service Agent

Executive Protection

Executive Protection exploded in the early 1990’s as crime and violence grew within the workplace and high profile executive kidnappings led to having ransoms attached and death (in some cases).  The main stream media played a major role in making these types of scenarios highly publicized and stimulated the swift growth of the protection field.  Corporations quickly recognized the value of personal protection for top executives and began taking advantage of the safety protection specialists provided.

Following the September 11th attacks, interest flourished and the need for executive protection expanded even further.  Now executive protection was inclusive of not only high profile government officials but also persons who served in international diplomats globally.

In the Corporate world, Executive Protection is seen as a necessary business measure taken to preserve a corporation’s human capital and to maintain corporate confidence with stock- holders, employees, and customers. Any attack can raise questions about a company’s intellectual capabilities as well as its preparedness to continue business as usual.

In times of elevated risk, Executive Protection exists to create an environment in which business can flourish and executives are able to concentrate on business activities with a successful modicum of safety.

The goal of an protection specialist is to provide protection while drawing as little attention to the principal as well as the protector. Today’s protection specialist develops a mindset that focuses on preventing and avoiding threat first, and utilizing combative tactics last. There you have it, the History of Bodyguards, for more info see infographic below.

There are many and varied opportunities in the protection industry, it would be my pleasure to assist you in finding the best possible fit as you make your way into the world of executive protection.

So let’s connect soon!

Warmest Regards

Founder of Bodyguard Careers

Harlan (Hucky) Austin


history of executive protection

The history of executive protection agents and other practitioners of personal protection has spanned hundreds of years. High profile figures like Kings, Presidents, and Popes as well as the wealthy have all required personal protection.