|Headquarters||Soul King Palace|
|Affiliation||Soul King, Soul Society|
|Purpose||Protecting the Soul King, the Royal Family and the Royal Palace|
The Honor Guard (儀仗兵, Gijō-hei) formerly known as the honorable Royal Guard (王属特務, Ōzokutokumu; translated as "Royal Special Task Force" in the English dub, literally translated as "King Subordinate Secret Service") as well as the Zero Division (零番隊, Zerobantai), is a prestigious organization within Soul Society dedicated solely with protecting the Soul King, the Royal Family and the Soul King Palace.
Prior to becoming the Honor Guard, the Royal Guard was a special organization that performs services for the Royal Family. It has a considerable amount of fighting, organizational, and executive power compared to other organizations. Since serving the royal family is the primary purpose of the Royal Guard, they do not interfere in the Gotei 13's affairs or the defense of Soul Society, as seen with major threats like Aizen and his Arrancar.
They are known to do whatever is required by order of the Soul King and the Royal Guards authority supersedes the authority of all within Soul Society. Each member of the Royal Guard have had the power of the Ōken imparted onto their bones by the Soul King. They also each have a city of their own at the Soul King Palace.
Now as the Honor Guard, their duties are mainly the same, except for a few additional responsibilities imparted to them by the Soul King, and only serve the King as their principle authoritative figure.
Due to their status as a secret organization, the history and very existence of the Royal Guard is not commonly known. They were hand picked for their incredible power and contributions to Soul Society. Some time after the War of Souls, the Royal Guard was changed to the Honor Guard, instituting a new organizational system, as well as several new duties.
The Honor Guard is the last line of defense between the Soul King and the total collapse of spiritual realms and potential end of all existence. As such, they are given a strict set of duties that must be upheld and their missions supercede any other mission or threat facing Soul Society. They are the guardians of the Soul King and all that revolve around him, living in a separate dimension from the Gotei 13. Their primary responsibilities are:
- Protect the Soul King
- Protect the Royal Family
- Protect the Royal Palace
As the Honor Guard, several additional responsibilities were given to them as a part of ceremonial duty. Now, the Honor Guard makes their presence known only during dire situations, or when a Captain of the Gotei 13 has fallen during battle to provide funeral honors and give their bodies a proper burial with respect and admiration for their services. This is considered the Gotei 13's highest honor in death.
The Royal Guard commonly stays within the Soul King Palace, but when they do travel, their preferred method of transportation is a huge pillar called the Tenchūren (天柱輦, Heavenly-Pillar Palanquin). This pillar enters from the inner dimension and lands with significant force upon its arrival. The Tenchūren, however, does not have the ability to return to the palace on its own, and relied on Kūkaku Shiba's cannon to launch it back. This was later resolved with a form of spiritual propulsion that delivers enough force to transport them back to the Soul King Palace. Ōetsu Nimaiya also had the ability to open a portal within the Soul King Palace that can send someone directly to the Human World. Someone can be returned to the Soul King Palace if the Chōkaimon (超界門, Super World Gate) is opened, but it can only be opened by syncing the arrival and departure times. They are able to take stairs down to the Seireitei, though it will take anywhere from half a day to a week of travel to get there.
The Royal Guard was known to promote former captains of the Gotei 13 to their ranks. The Royal Guard had no soldiers, and it only had 5 members, all of which are former Captains. Their total power far surpassed the power of all the 13 Divisions together. Ichibei Hyōsube was the commanding Shinigami of the Royal Guard. The Honor Guard, however, is composed of 6 members who six strategic points surround the Soul King Palace for maximum protection.
The main difference between the Royal Guard and Honor Guard is that captaincy is not a requirement to become a part of the Honor Guard. Instead, they must possess a level of power surpassing that of a traditional captain, placing them within the top tier of Shinigami far removed from those within the Gotei 13. Also, they must possess a Zanpakutō whose power is unrivaled within any organization and referring them as a Legendary Zanpakutō. When a Shinigami is presented that has such power, they are secretly contacted with their promotion, and then those recruited to the Honor Guard are sent to the Soul King Palace and given power by the King himself. From then on, these individuals will serve the Soul King until their deaths with retirement completely out of the question.
Like the divisions of the Gotei 13, the Royal Guard and Honor Guard also has a unique symbol that represents the division's primary role, which is in its case based upon the Winter Daphne (沈丁花, Jinchōge). This symbol is placed inside the Gotei 13 symbol of a rhombus to form the division's complete insignia, which is displayed upon each member's haori. While the Royal Guard maintained the traditional white haori, the Honor Guard has a more individualistic attire each specific to every member, though they still possess the insignia on the back of their uniforms.