LONDON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The Royal British Guard, most noted for standing sentry at royal housing, have been removed from public view and are now protecting the royals from behind security gates amid growing concerns of a terrorist attack.
Security officials said the elite soldiers, recognized for wearing red dress uniforms and tall bearskin hats, have been moved from their high-profile posts and are being closely watched by armed police.
Also called the Queen's Guards, the soldiers stand at attention outside the Clarence House, St. James's Palace and Windsor Castle, among others. Their role is often considered ceremonial, but they are trained soldiers and carry unloaded weapons with bayonets.
Reports say the move has come partially in response to the October lone-wolf shooting at the Canadian Parliament and the country's National War Memorial that left one person dead. Officials fear the British soldiers would be high-profile targets.
At the same time, The Sunday Times reported al-Qaida has issued instructions to would-be terrorists on how to carry out hidden bomb attacks on commercial airliners and urged them to target British Airways and the low-cost carrier EasyJet.
In August, the United Kingdom raised its threat alert to severe following potential terror threats from Syria and Iraq.