The US Security Force That Protects Royals When They Visit America

The United States of America officially distanced itself from royalty in general, and British royalty in particular, in 1776, when the founding fathers issued the Declaration of Independence. The nascent country's rejection of monarchy became even more official in 1789; as the Constitution Center notes, the nation's founding documents specifically forbids "rule by monarchy, dictatorship, aristocracy, or permanent military rule, even through majority vote."

The United States is involved in all manner of international diplomacy, and frequently hosts state visits from foreign dignitaries. Although British monarchs have absolutely zero political power, they still ceremonially represent their country, and as such, sometimes pay visits overseas, including to the U.S. As Reuters reports, Prince William and his wife, Kate, will be visiting Boston this week. Although it's not a state visit in the strictest sense, the two royals are foreign heads of state and, as such, will require security services while they're here. That role will fall to a federal agency tasked with such things, as ABC News reports.

Royal visits to the United States

It took 160 years, but a British monarch first visited the United States in 1939. As the Senate's website reports, Britain's King George VI (father of Queen Elizabeth II) paid a state visit to the U.S. to drum up support for Britain should the country get drawn into war with Germany. It was the first time a British monarch had ever visited the United States. But it wouldn't be the last; according to the royal family's website, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip made four state visits during her reign: once in 1957, and again in 1976, 1983, and 1991.

It's not always the monarch who represents the royal family on visits to the U.S. For example, Prince Charles, before he was King Charles, visited the United States at least 20 times, according to Yahoo! News, and lower-ranking royals Prince Harry and Prince William, and their wives, have visited here as well (per The New York Times).

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Royals or not, foreign dignitaries can and do expect to be provided with security while on American soil, and that job goes to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. According to the agency's website, operating under the auspices of the Department of State, it "has the largest global reach of any U.S. federal law enforcement agency, with offices in 29 U.S. cities and in more than 270 locations around the world."

Andrew Wroblewski, the agency's assistant director, told ABC News that much of the work is done behind the scenes, first by assessing any threats against the foreign visitors. "We'll make it a determination on whether or not we need to protect that person and at what level we need to provide protection," he said.

The agency doesn't go it alone: as ABC reports, no fewer than 11 law enforcement agencies, from the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and on up to various federal agencies, will be involved in keeping William and Kate safe. "I'm confident in the plan we've built. I will say that we cannot do anything without our state and local partners," said Matthew O'Brien, the assistant special agent in charge of the Boston Diplomatic Security Service field office.