The much anticipated four-day State Visit to Kenya by King Charles III and Queen Camilla has begun, marking his first visit to a Commonwealth country as British Royalty.
King Charles III’s visit, according to the United Kingdom Embassy, is geared at forging bilateral ties between the two countries and acknowledging Kenya’s fight for independence.
Due to his packed itinerary, King Charles will be accompanied by a heavy security detail drawn from the Royal Protection Group (RPG) which is responsible for providing security to members of the Royal Family.
The unit is responsible for protecting the King at Buckingham Palace and across all residences they frequent. The unit draws its agents from Westminster Security who are categorised into Personal and Close Protection, Residential Protection, and Special Escort Group (SEG).
King Charles III and Queen Camilla greeting President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto after arriving at State House on October 31, 2023.
The Personal and Close Protection Unit comprises plainclothes officers who protect members of the Family in the United Kingdom or during their travel.
Officers attached to this group often carry a Glock pistol, an emergency first-aid kit, and a radio for constant communication.
Residential Protection Unit comprises uniformed officers who guard the British Royal Residences in Windsor, London, and Scotland. The officers also protect the general public who visit the monarch.
SEG is a special unit that provides additional security for the Royal Family when they are on the move. It features a group of motorcycle riders who not only clear the route ahead of the presidential motorcade but also offer protection.
Part of their roles include; dictating the motorcade’s pace with several officers situated at the front and others at the back.
The Royal Protection Group communicates in code. Agents disguise themselves as civilians or fanatics.
This helps them blend in the crowd and spot potential dangers before they become a potential threat.
RRO guards the King on a 24-hour basis, covering logistics such as where the Royal Family will sleep and locations and destinations they will visit.
The king’s vehicles are also armoured and fitted with elite security features including bulletproof glass and run-flat tires to help maintain control in the case of a deflated tyre.
Notably, the protection unit is very meticulous with King Charles’s security. The crown cannot travel alone in a vehicle or accept strangers’ gifts.
The unit also inspects the King’s meals before they are presented to him to ensure safety.
Due to the demanding nature of their work, the officers undergo a grueling 6-month training program to test the officers’ limits and capabilities.
King Charles III (left) with President William Ruto (right) at State House Nairobi, Kenya in October 2023
The program involves advanced defensive driving, unarmed combat, emergency first aid, high-threat environment deployment and tactics as well as overseas operations.
They also undergo Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) training which includes assessments to gauge one’s endurance levels. The courses range from running, and swimming to obstacle challenges.
Following the training, the officer earns skills needed in combat including conflict resolution, environmental awareness, legislation, and resourcefulness. The 6-month training is conditioned to enable the officers to operate at the highest level in challenging circumstances.
According to the National Careers section of the UK government’s website, the average annual salary for a close protection officer is Ksh3 million for a beginner and Ksh9 million for an experienced officer.