The Royal Earthbender Guards of Ba Sing Se, commonly known as the King's Guards, are earthbending warriors within the Earth Kingdom affiliated with neither the Dai Li nor the army. They instead serve as personal protectors of the earth monarch, though Earth Queen Hou-Ting preferred the Dai Li as bodyguards. As elite troops of Ba Sing Se, they are tasked with guarding the Royal Palace, serving as gatekeepers of the Outer and Inner Walls of Ba Sing Se, and acting as sub-commanders for the Ba Sing Se army troops. They are also responsible for the safety of any properties belonging to the earth monarch, such as the royal vault.
Due to their importance for both the monarchy and Ba Sing Se, they were involved in many historically significant events, such as the Peasant Uprising in Ba Sing Se and the Fire Nation's attempt to demolish the capital's walls with a drill.
Reign of the 46th Earth King
When the peasants of Ba Sing Se rebelled and gained control over the whole city except the Royal Palace, the guards barricaded themselves in the palace, determined to protect the king until the bitter end. Unable to handle the revolt and fearing for his life, the Earth King summoned Avatar Kyoshi to the capital to aid him and bring the revolt to an end. However, when the Avatar refused, the king furiously ordered her arrest, which the Royal Earthbender Guards obeyed without hesitation. Despite outnumbering her, they proved to be no match for the Avatar as she easily brushed them aside with airbending.
Defending Ba Sing Se
Centuries later, during the Hundred Year War, the Royal Earthbender Guards became the first line of defense for Ba Sing Se during the Fire Nation invasion of the Earth Kingdom. Together with the Council of Five, they remained completely loyal to the Earth King throughout the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se.
In the spring of 100 AG, the Royal Earthbender Guards, under the command of General Sung, tried to fight off the Fire Nation drill that assaulted the Outer Walls of Ba Sing Se. At Sung's order, the guards threw boulders at the heavily armored drill but their efforts proved ineffective, and it was the aid of Team Avatar that eventually secured victory for the guards. Some days later, they served as the Earth King's bodyguards during a party for his pet bear.
The Royal Earthbender Guards later attempted to prevent Avatar Aang and his team from reaching the 52nd Earth King, Kuei, mistaking them as enemies of their ruler. They used specialized surface-to-surface rocks against the invaders, re-purposing the projectiles as surface-to-air rocks against the airborne bison of the Avatar. Upon Team Avatar's landing, the King's Guards deployed their whole force to halt the attack, but despite their numbers and equipment, they were quickly defeated.
When the Avatar tried to convince the Earth King about a conspiracy that prevented Kuei from being informed about the war, the King's Guards escorted Earth King Kuei as he toured the city with Team Avatar.
The Yu Dao crisis and Kuei's international travels
After the Hundred Year War, the King's Guards continued their duty, and when the Harmony Restoration Movement failed and the crisis regarding Yu Dao escalated, they served as sub-commanders of the Earth King's army in the ensuing battle against the reformed Fire Nation Army. When the battle eventually ended with a ceasefire and a temporary agreement, they, along with Earth King Kuei and General How, returned to Ba Sing Se peacefully.
Decline under Queen Hou-Ting
During the reign of Queen Hou-Ting, the Royal Earthbender Guards were replaced in their position as bodyguards and enforcers by the Dai Li, at the preference of the queen, and were instead used as mere guards for her properties and prisons.
A unit of earthbender guards helped escort the Future Industries airship with Team Avatar aboard to the Royal Palace. Later that day, they served as escorts when Korra went to secure Hou-Ting's tax payments. However, when Gombo's gang showed up, they ran off in fear, leaving Korra and Asami to deal with them. Royal Earthbenders also guarded the Earth Queen's Temple, and two of the guards were ambushed by Team Avatar when the latter infiltrated the compound. One guard patrolled the palace's underground prison during Mako and Bolin's confinement.
After the queen was murdered by the Red Lotus and Ba Sing Se fell into anarchy, mobs of Lower Ring citizens began to plunder the palace. One group threatened a guard not to attempt to stop them; the earthbender instead chose to join the looters, even offering to show the other citizens new treasures to plunder.
Service under King Wu
After the anarchy in the Earth Kingdom ended and the Earth Empire was defeated in 174 AG, the Royal Earthbender Guards were reconstituted in their original role as bodyguards by King Wu. A small group of royal guards subsequently accompanied him and Team Avatar to Gaoling, where an Earth Empire holdout, under the leadership of Commander Guan, threatened Wu's plan to transform the Earth Kingdom into a democracy. They were present when Wu visited the town to oversee the preparations for the upcoming democratic elections, and witnessed the standoff between the commander and Team Avatar.
The Royal Earthbender Guards sport a uniform very different from that of normal Earth Kingdom soldiers, wearing heavier, dark green full-body armor with a green plume on top of the helmet.
- Since the Earth King's guards were already active around 270 BG, they are the oldest special military unit in the known history of the Avatar World.
- Fire Lord Ozai was known to use dummies clad in Royal Earthbender Guard uniforms during his firebending practice.
- The armor worn by the Royal Earthbender Guards is similar in appearance to that of the brigandine armor worn by both the banner soldiers and cavalry units of the Qing Dynasty military.