10 of the World’s Most Heavily Guarded Public Figures


In his 2014 article for Elite Daily, Adam Pliskin argues that milennials are especially fascinated by celebrity culture. Unlike fans from previous generations, milennials have constant, limited access to celebrities. A computer is a standard technological convenience in most contemporary homes, and access to social media is widely available. Anyone who can access a social media site can potentially contact a public figure. Some public figures prioritize protecting their privacy, either by choice or by necessity.

10. Johnny Depp

Since his 2015 divorce from actress Amber Heard, Johnny Depp has become as well known for his relentless partying as he is for any of his recent acting roles. Depp’s public persona may be uncouth, but his approach to home security is positively medieval. He based the design of his Los Angeles home on the one type of dwelling that is primarily intended to keep out invaders: a castle.

His home has battlements and towers to deter entry, as well as security guards, security cameras, and alarm systems. (Disclaimer: we’re pretty sure medieval castle’s didn’t have at least a few of those things, of course.) Anyone entranced by his home’s round turrets and wishing for a tour would have to be granted permission to pass through the home’s only entrance, an iron gate.

9. Queen Elizabeth

In 2015, Varsity reported that almost two-thirds of Britons could not name the prime minister at the time, David Cameron. Perhaps Cameron should have followed the example of the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth, whose bright wardrobes make her unmistakable. The queen is favoring form as well as function. Her vivid color palette makes it easier for the Royal Protection Squad to find her in a crowd.

Since the Squad’s formation in 1983, 185 SAS-trained officers have guarded the current monarch and all direct heirs to the throne. Prince Charles and Prince William both have waterproof alarm watches they can use to summon security.

8. Pussy Riot

When the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot gained a worldwide audience, it wasn’t because of a hit song. In 2011, after spending four years as the prime minister under his puppet president, Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin again became the president of Russia. Some citizens, especially those living in the cities, suspected election fraud. In February 2012, Pussy Riot entered the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The band performed a 50 second song with the chorus, “Mother of god—drive Putin out, holy sh**, holy sh**, holy sh**.” All three of the band members were arrested on the charge of “hooliganism, motivated by religious hatred.”

The band was dropped off in an armored car and escorted into the courthouse by a security guard every day of the trial. They were initially sentenced to five months in prison. When the singers’ defense lawyers claimed their clients’ rights were violated during the trial, both lawyers were sentenced to two months in a penal colony. The band was released after three months.

7. Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley impersonations were voted “Most Iconic Celebrity Impressions” by Slate in 2015. During his prolific career, Elvis’ black pompadour, curling lip, and swiveling hips could be seen on any television or movie screen. When Elvis couldn’t be seen, it was because his security personnel wanted it that way.

The men of the Memphis Mafia were Elvis’ protectors from 1954 until his death in 1977. They weren’t only personnel, they were personal friends. Each one of the eight men was chosen by Elvis based on a preexisting friendship. They were on site at his home, Graceland, at all times, and they constantly traveled with him. Every member of the Memphis Mafia was required to carry a gun, and all of the men received martial arts training.

6. Rahul Gandhi

In India’s parliamentary government, more than one official is entitled to travel under armed guard. This is in contrast to, for example, the United States of America, where only the president, the vice president, and their families are typically protected by the Secret Service (along with a few other select people, such as visiting heads of state and former presidents, for example). In fact, federal security in India is provided to any public figure who is given a Very Important Person (VIP) status. As the president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi is guarded by the company Special Protection Group (SPG). He is entitled to Z level security.

This is the second highest level of security in the Indian government’s four tier system. When he travels, Gandhi is accompanied by police officers, and one escort car. Gandhi’s security is always important to the federal government, but it only interests the press when the police make mistakes.

In August 2018, Gandhi visited Chennai to pay his final respects to DMK party leader M. Karunanidhi. The police lost sight of Gandhi when he was surrounded by mourners, leaving him vulnerable to possible attack. The federal government promised the police would be severely punished. The only injury suffered was an affront to Gandhi’s dignity. Because the police did not clear a safe path through the crowd for him, he stepped in muddy slush.

5. North West

North West, the daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, is famous simply for being born to two celebrity parents. No matter what you might think of the pair, to at least some degree they’re just like any other humans in that they might get a little overly protective of their children from time to time. Or, in this case, literally all of the time. After all, how many small children do you know of — who aren’t the children of politicians or royalty — who have their own private security details?

Kim and Kanye’s 30 security guards are believed to make $70-$150 per hour. North has had her own security guards from infancy, and her parents bought a one million dollar vehicle to transport her.

4. Blue Ivy Carter

Like any loving parents, Beyonce and Jay-Z protect their oldest daughter, Blue Ivy. Unlike most loving parents, they have financial resources that allow them to extend their influence beyond Blue Ivy’s home life. In 2017, they filed a request for a trademark to protect their daughter’s unique name.

When Blue Ivy attended preschool, she was dropped off by a security motorcade that included two cars and three bodyguards. Parents whose children also attended the school complained, saying Blue Ivy’s preschool drop off caused daily traffic jams.

3. Barack Obama

The 2008 election of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, was such a significant sociocultural milestone for the country that First Commemorative Mint sold plates to commemorate Obama’s inauguration… only the thing is, when the plates first went on the market, there wasn’t yet any event to commemorate. Obama hadn’t even taken the Oath of Office.

While the company has never confirmed whether its marketing strategy was influenced by concern that Obama might be assassinated before he could attend his inauguration, it’s certainly a bit unusual to celebrate and commemorate something that hadn’t yet happened. Naturally, it leads to speculation of what motivated the early release. Of course, even if the company didn’t have that fear, the U.S. federal government certainly did. Amazingly, Obama began receiving Secret Service protection a full year and a half before the 2008 election took place — easily the earliest any candidate has ever received such protection.

2. Connor Kidman Cruise

Five years after their 1990 marriage, actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman adopted two children, Connor Kidman Cruise and Isabella Kidman Cruise. After the couple’s 2001 divorce, Tom Cruise and the children remained members of the Church of Scientology. As detailed in the HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, members of the Church of Scientology are expected to “disconnect” from any “suppressive people” (SPs) who might compromise their ascention through the church’s tiered plan for spiritual progress. (Classes cost $650 each, the required package of founder L. Ron Hubbard’s 12 Scientology texts costs $4,000.) As someone who is not a member of the church, Kidman is now a SP from whom her children have “disconnected.” Cruise has reportedly banned her from attending their son, Connor’s, upcoming wedding.

In 2018, Connor was reportedly placed on lock down in a Scientology compound in Florida. During that time, Connor was heavily guarded. Provided with only vitamins and juice, he was required to spend entire days completing Scientology courses. He was also subjected to auditing, the church’s process for purging negative thoughts by revealing wrongs committed in past lives, several times daily. As neither the church nor Connor has made a statement, it is impossible to determine whether the lock down was preparatory or punitive. Perhaps Connor was being prepared follow his father’s example by becoming the church’s most valuable celebrity ally. Perhaps he was being punished, because partying is forbidden by the church.

1. Salman Rushdie

British author Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel, Satanic Verses, is arguably his most famous and his most infamous work. In the book, the protagonist has a dream wherein he becomes his namesake, the angel Gibreel. He meets Muhammad, who writes down the message Gibreel delivers. According to Islamist doctrine, the same sequence of events led Muhammad to transcribe dictums that later became the Muslim holy book, the Quran. In the dream, however, Muhammad deliberately changes Gibreel’s words in order to deliver a message that better serves his own interests. Also, in the dream, Muhammad is called Mahound. Mahound, derived from Muhammad, is the name given to the prophet by the early Christians, who believed he was an incarnation of the devil.

To the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Rushdie’s depiction of Muhammad was blasphemy. Because the Ayatollah was a theocratic leader, he considered blaspheming the prophet a crime against the state. In 1989, after witnessing a protest against the novel in Pakistan, the Ayatollah issued an edict instructing Muslims to murder Rushdie, and anyone else involved with the book’s publication. Rushdie went into hiding. He lived under heavy guard for nine years. When writer Laura Gianino met Rushdie at a social function in 2013, she told him his book changed her life. “Well that’s good,” he said, “because it ruined mine.”

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