The Imperial Knights, or, more formally, the Knights of the Empire, are the personal bodyguards and agents of the Fel Emperor. Their order was founded by Jagged Fel, who also founded the Fel Dynasty and created the modern Empire as it is known today.
Unlike previous Force-based organizations that served the Empire, the Imperial Knights are trained to avoid the Dark Side, though, by the Jedi Order’s view, they are also not precisely adherents of the Light Side, either. The Imperial Knights are sworn to the service of the Force as embodied in the form of the Emperor. As such, they serve and protect him without question, but also guard him against falling to the Dark Side. If he should do so, it is their sworn duty to draw him back to the Light, or remove him from power.
Imperial Knight training is typically far less mystical than that of either the Jedi or Sith. The Force, and the traditional tool of a Force-user—the lightsaber—are seen chiefly as tools in service to their duty. As such, there is no ceremony associated with earning a lightsaber, and no individuality in their design—all Imperial Knights are issued a standard lightsaber that emits a silver blade, produced from a synthetic crystal, on the completion of their training, along with their standard armor. Despite this utilitarian viewpoint, the Imperial Knights are widely viewed across the galaxy as some of the most highly trained Force-users, easily rivaling the Jedi themselves.
Although many tend to think of the Imperial Knights as the Empire’s Jedi, they are a far smaller organization, numbering less than a thousand in total, though their exact numbers are a state secret. Partly this is due to the considerably smaller population of the Fel Empire compared to the Galactic Alliance, and partly due to the fact that the Jedi themselves, in fact, have a presence within Imperial territory, though it is more limited than in Alliance space. However, the main reason is simply in the stated mission of the group: their primary purpose is not to serve as defenders of the peace, or even military leaders as the Jedi have in times past. Instead, they are tasked with guarding the safety of the Emperor personally. This mandate puts them in a unique position in Imperial society. Though most of their number serve as bodyguards of the Emperor’s person, at times they act almost as spies, investigating threats to his security, and occasionally, when the situation warrants it, they do have the authority to command military units, even in large numbers. It is even rumored that, as the head of the Imperial Knights, the Emperor also uses them as his personal agents in all manner of ways, up to and including assassination. There is no hard evidence to support this claim, and the Emperor and senior Knights have been on record categorically denying it, but the rumors persist nevertheless.