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Honor Guardsman is a notably high rank of highly-skilled Covenant warriors employed within the Covenant Honor Guard unit. The Honor Guardsmen served to defend the San'Shyuum and other political figures, particularly the Hierarchs. The role was once exclusively adopted by Sangheili before the Great Schism changed the role in favor of their Jiralhanae rivals.
Honor Guardsmen were the imperial elite protectors of the Hierarchs and Council and were among the most skilled of all warriors and were hand-picked for the duty of protecting the High Prophets and other high-ranking officials in the Covenant High Council. Honor Guardsmen used the energy stave for ceremonial purposes, which is the highest weapon of any Honor Guard. Honor Guardsmen were expected to immediately kill anyone who drew a weapon in the presence of a Hierarch, though they might stand down should an Arbiter do so. In addition, they kept order during important meetings within the High Council. Although the position was a great honor, it was seen by some Sangheili as a merely ceremonial duty and a way to silence those who were aware of the Hierarchs' duplicity.  The Sanctum of the Hierarchs on High Charity could accommodate as many as three hundred.
The Honor Guardman role was once exclusively used by Sangheili warriors. However, after the death of the Prophet of Regret during the Ninth Age of Reclamation in November 2552, the Prophets of Truth and Mercy replaced the Sangheili Honor Guard with the Jiralhanae. This "Changing of the Guard" was a major step in a carefully planned coup that soon devolved into the Great Schism.
- "The Sangheili honor guard was always vigilant and almost inert when at peace. One never had to worry about what a Sangheili might do any more than one worried if the stars would come out at night."
- — The Minister of Discovery remarking on the stoic nature of the honor guard
For thousands of years, the Sangheili protected the Hierarchs and the other Prophets according to the Writ's strictures before the events that led to the Great Schism. The Sangheili Honor Guardsmen were likely instated soon after the signing of the Writ of Union, which led to the establishment of the Covenant. The Lights of Sanghelios were a revered elite unit among the Sangheili Honor Guard. Because one was expected to encounter little to no combat in the posting, select Sangheili were known to have even declined a place in the Honor Guard.
When the Prophets betrayed the Sangheili at the beginning of the Great Schism, some of the Sangheili Honor Guardsmen killed themselves after learning of their treachery, although others decided to assist the Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and the humanity's UNSC in fighting against the new Covenant leadership led by the Prophet of Truth and Tartarus. Following the defeat of the Covenant, many of the former Sangheili Honor Guardsmen found themselves isolated and purposeless. A few Honor Guardsmen unwilling to ally with most of the remnant groups of the former Covenant pledged allegiance to the Banished, specifically Shipmaster Let 'Volir who served Atriox in an unconventional arrangement, seeing opportunity in the service of the powerful mercenary organization. Evoking the traditions and accomplishments of their predecessors and using re-purposed ceremonial equipment of the old Covenant Honor Guard, these Honor Guardsmen are skilled swordsmen who match the Covenant's Honor Guard in fighting prowess.
Honor Guardsmen in service to the Covenant Honor Guard wore highly ornate armor, colored in a combination of glowing red and orange. It featured jutting spikes and pauldrons, though they sometimes wore non-ceremonial armor for the sake of practicality.
A Light of Sanghelios with a helmet.[Note 1]
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "This is unprecedented. Unacceptable."
- High Prophet of Truth: "Recommissioning the Guard was a radical step. But recent events have made it abundantly clear that the Elites can no longer guarantee our safety."
- — Conversation between Special Operations Commander Rtas 'Vadumee and the High Prophet of Truth during the Changing of the Guard.
The newer position of Jiralhanae Honor Guardsman was chosen for their stronger loyalty to the Prophets than the Sangheili during the Great Schism after the assassination of the High Prophet of Regret by John-117. The then-new Jiralhanae role was largely ceremonial, unless a San'Shyuum's life was being threatened. The Sangheili were incensed that their role of protecting the San'Shyuum, which they had faithfully executed for millennia, had been revoked and delegated to their rivals, the Jiralhanae.
After the Fall of High Charity however, some lesser-ranking Jiralhanae Bodyguards served as the High Prophet of Truth's personal protectors instead of their Honor Guardsmen counterparts, presumably replacing them, whom most of Honor Guardmen protecting Truth were killed by John-117 while attempting to repel the Spartan from Anodyne Spirit during the Scramble onboard Forerunner Dreadnought. However, a handful of Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen survived the Battle of Installation 00 aboard the Anodyne Spirit and later participated in the Second Ark Conflict under Dhas Bhasvod in 2559.
Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen wore the same armor as the their Sangheili predecessors, but with slightly different plating. These plates had a yellow and red alternating pattern, bordered by black. This yellow/red alternating pattern was also seen on the thrones of the High Prophets. The helmet also had a yellow/red alternating pattern. It was upgraded and made larger, since Jiralhanae have larger heads overall than Sangheili. Guardsmen also sported a red holographic Rh'tol Jiralhanae Captain flag mounted on one shoulder. The main difference between the Sangheili and Jiralhanae guardsmen combat harness is that Jiralhanae harness does not possess energy shielding, while Sangheili harnesses have it equipped, rendering Jiralhanae guardsmen more vulnerable to damage.
In addition to serving as a warrior role, a number of distinct vehicle variants existed during the Human-Covenant War, including the Honor Guard Wraith—a variant of the standard Wraith which has the same look, but has an Honor Guard-colored armor.
Non-canon and dubious canon appearances
- Main article: Silver Timeline
Sangheili Honor Guardsmen are used to protect the Hierarchs in High Charity.
The Honor Guardman are an enemy rank first introduced in Halo 2. The honor guardmens were later expanded upon in Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2 only for the Elites. To view full gameplay-related information for the various classes of Honor Guardman enemy, please see the following articles;
|See our gameplay information related to Honor Guard on its gameplay page|
|Browse more images in this article's gallery page.|
An storyboard featuring a Sangheili guardsman clad in a cloak.
A Sangheili Honor Guardsman in Halo 2.
Honor Guardsmen in non-ceremonial armor protecting the High Prophet of Regret in Halo Wars.
A render of a Sangheili Honor Guardsman in Halo Wars.
In-game closeup of Honor Guardsman in Halo Wars.
Concept art of the the Sangheili Honor Guards in The Babysitter.
A model of a Sangheili Honor Guardsman in Halo 2: Anniversary.
An Honor Guardsman aboard High Charity.
Honor Guardsmen stand guard in the High Council Chamber before the Prophets.
Honor Guardsmen line the entrance to the Sanctum of the Hierarchs.
A pair of Honor Guardsmen at Regret's side aboard the Solemn Penance.
Concept art of a Banished Honor Guard for Halo Wars 2.
Blitz card of a Banished Honor Guardsmen in Halo Wars 2.
A Banished Honor Guard kills two Sangheili Rangers.
A Jiralhanae Honor Guardsman in Halo 2.
List of appearances
- Halo 2, campaign level, Sacred Icon
- Halo: Contact Harvest, p. 381
- Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, p. 95
- Halo: Contact Harvest, page 381
- Halo: The Cole Protocol, p. 341
- Halo Wars, campaign level, Scarab
- Bungie.net: The Tru7h About Co-Op in Halo 3
- Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide- Citadel Units
- Halo: First Strike, p. 339
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, "Wages of Sin", p. 297
- Halo: Contact Harvest, p. 153
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, The Return
- Halo 2, campaign level The Great Journey
- Youtuber: Blitz Cards
- Halo Wars 2
- Halo Wars, campaign levels Scarab, Shield World, and Beachhead
- Halo Legends, The Babysitter
- Halo Encyclopedia (2009 edition), page 145
- Halo 2, campaign level, Gravemind
- Halo 2, campaign level, Sacred Icon
- Halo 3, campaign level, The Covenant
- Halo: Uprising, issue #3
- Halo 2, gameplay
- Halo: The Television Series, episode Contact