6 ceremonial military units that are actually badass (when they aren't wearing funny hats)

Honor guards are an important part of the pomp and circumstance surrounding official state events. Many guard units are mostly for show, serving only to drill perfectly and impress crowds.

But some honor guards are filled with active soldiers who continue to practice killing people when they aren’t all dressed up in tall hats and shiny breastplates. Here are 6 of them.

1. The Queen’s Guard (U.K.)

The Queen’s Guard is probably the most iconic ceremonial guard unit in the world, but the men outside Buckingham Palace aren’t just a tourist attraction.

They are real soldiers and are allowed to use violence to protect themselves, their post, and the Queen. Some tourists have learned this the unpleasant way.

2. The Swiss Guard (The Vatican)

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Dating back to the 1400s, the Swiss Guard are the primary protective force for the Pope. When the guardsmen aren’t wearing their funny uniforms, they’re training to kill those who threaten the Holy Father. Skip to 2:13 in the video to see members of the Swiss Guard training with their assault rifles.

3. Old Guard (U.S.)

Army-old-guard-drill-team

Photo: US Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks

The 3rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army are the official honor guard of the President as well as the ceremonial guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All members are active duty infantry soldiers who also deploy to combat and train for fights in the national capital.

(Note: The 3rd Infantry Regiment is the official honor guard for the president, but the president is much more commonly seen with the Marine Sentries, four Marines assigned to guard his person in the West Wing of the White House.)

4. Republican Guard (France)

Bastille-Day_French-Republican-guard-cavalry-honor-guard

Photo: Wikipedia/XtoF

Part of the French Gendarmerie, a military police force, the Republican Guard serves as the guard of honor for many official events and the French president, but it also guards key government installations in Paris, protects the French prime minister and president, and engages in military exercises.

5. Corazzieri Regiment (Italy)

Italian-Corazzieri-mounted-honor-guard

Photo: Wikipedia/Jollyroger

Commanded by a colonel in the Italian Army, the Carazzieri Regiment performs ceremonial duties as the honor guard of the Italian president, but they’re also an active police force. During times of war, they can be organized under the Defense Ministry.

6. Presidential Guard (Fiji)

Fiji-presidential-honor-guard

Photo: Republic of Fiji Military Forces

The Presidential Guard of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces is the honor guard of Fiji’s president. However, they are also in charge of the physical security of the president’s residence and nearby installations.

NOW: Here’s the intense training for Marines who guard American embassies >

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