Behind The Templar Agenda
The Swiss Guard
One of the main themes of the novel is the situation involving Mikael Frei and Gabrielle Leoni. In truth, before my visit to the Vatican I knew little about the Swiss Guard. Having had the opportunity to see so many of them in real life, usually from a distance, I cannot deny that there is something about them that separates this band of mercenaries from the world’s other great military units. Like the guards of Buckingham Palace they may create the illusion of being statues, though in reality behind the calm facades are highly skilled men every bit as formidable as the most deadly terrorist or the most highly trained government official of any of the world’s superpowers.
Quite simply, the Swiss Guard are brilliant! For those of you who, like me, see personality traits like bravery, loyalty, integrity and valour as being among the most important any human can possess, the aura that surrounds them needs little explaining. For over five hundred years the Swiss Guard have been a model of all these things.
Yet, while their prestige is both famous and tremendous, the lives of the individuals behind the uniforms are seldom told. Their faces offer little more than a small gap in the curtain into the window of their existence. These dedicated bodyguards are matched in their talents by their unique humility, a trait that adds to their likeability. It is a strange combination of reassurance and sadness that these men have become a source of inspiration for many yet remained in partial anonymity.
The decision to choose a Swiss Guard as my protagonist for The Templar Agenda was for the most part my own token of respect for these incredible soldiers whose dedication to their cause can be summed up simply as the task of protecting Christ’s spokesman on this earth. Every member of the Swiss Guard must qualify for Swiss citizenship and have spent at least six months training in the Swiss Army.
In the case of Mikael Frei, I opened up something a loophole by giving him an American education, using the naturalisation clause for Swiss Citizenship, as this allowed the character easy access into other strands of the novel, such as the bits set in Scotland and America, and in my opinion allows for greater affinity with the English speaking reader. Mike’s naval background is inspired by my own connections with Annapolis, and is undoubtedly very different to any other Swiss Guard in service.
The background on the Swiss Guard presented in this novel is as accurate as I could make it, and is based on both second hand research and my own time spent at the Vatican. All of the Swiss Guards in the novel are of relevance to the Vatican Swiss Guard, a group of approximately 110 males of Catholic faith employed as the military of the Vatican City. In the past several groups of these Swiss mercenaries existed, often providing military support for the kings and courts of Europe – most famously in France. The Pontifical Swiss Guard began under Pope Julius II in 1506 and, since 1970, has provided the entire military of the Vatican.