Across the pond, Hyde Park in Greater London is the biggest of the Royal Parks (there are seven others). The park is only 350 acres, but it’s dripping in history, which is why it’s such a sought-after destination.
Are you allowed to fly your drone in Hyde Park?
Hyde Park does not permit drone pilots across any of its lakes, gardens, or parklands (aka the open spaces in the park). You’re also prohibited from flying in the other Royal Parks unless you have a permit.
Ahead, we’ll clear up any lingering doubts you may have about operating a drone in Hyde Park.
Whether you’ve been here before and plan to come back, or this will be your first time, read this information before packing up your drone!
Can you fly a drone in Hyde Park?
Hyde Park is a part of the Royal Parks that lead from Kensington Palace’s entrance to Kensington Garden. The Green Park route is adjacent to the Buckingham Palace entrance.
Henry VIII created the park in 1536. At the time, Hyde Park was used as a hunting ground, but by 1637, it was open to the public and became a popular spot for parades.
As all this proximity and historical context tell you, Hyde Park is off-limits to drone pilots. Any open spaces throughout the park–including lakes, gardens, and the parkland itself–are to be avoided.
Can you fly a drone in the other Royal Parks?
Hyde Park is only one Royal Park of seven, as mentioned in the intro.
The others are the 57-acre St. James’s Park, the 2,360-acre Richmond Park, the 410-acre Regent’s Park, the 270-acre Kensington Gardens, the 180-acre Greenwich Park, the 47-acre Green Park, and the 1,100-acre Bushy Park.
Surely, you can fly in one of these parks, right? According to the Royal Parks website, the answer to that question is typically no.
The organization put together a policy statement about drone use called The Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems in the Royal Parks.
Here’s what the policy says about operating a drone in the Royal Parks: “Under Park Regulations (Regulation 6) no person using the park shall –
(13) in contravention of a notice exhibited by order of the Secretary of State, or after having been requested by a constable not to do so –
(b) use a kite, or model aircraft or any mechanically propelled or operated model,
The flying of a drone becomes a prohibited act once a constable has asked a person to stop flying it or if a notice is displayed in a park stating it as a prohibited act.”
The Royal Parks do sometimes make exceptions to the above rules.
These circumstances call for TPR to issue written permission to a drone pilot, usually in conjunction with a planned park news broadcast or another commercial project.
Permits aren’t granted because TPR wants drones in any of the Royal Parks, but because the alternative is to use helicopters, which are an even more substantial nuisance than drones.
You’d have to contact The Royal Parks Press Office if interested in using a drone for commercial news broadcasts.
Make sure you reach out at least 10 business days ahead of when you’d need to use a drone in one of the Royal Parks. You’d also have to complete an application.
“TPR will only give permission where it does not unreasonably impact on the comfort, safety and convenience of other park users, park wildlife and environment. Security implications will also be considered,” says the website.
Another exception besides having a commercial permit is for law enforcement. At times, the Metropolitan Police may have to use drones in or around the Royal Parks. Even still, they must have an agreement with the TPR first in most cases.
Can you fly a drone outside of Hyde Park?
It can be frustrating to learn that you can’t fly your drone in a place you planned to visit such as Hyde Park and the other Royal Parks. If you venture outside Hyde Park, can you at least launch there?
Well, you’ll remember that the Royal Parks spread as a chain, so where one is, another usually isn’t too far behind.
It’s only across the Serpentine Lake, for instance, from Hyde Park that you’ve already reached Kensington Gardens to the left of the park. To the right of the park is Green Park.
Even if you venture outside the green space, Hyde Park isn’t too far from Kensington Palace, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, and Royal Albert Hall.
You will likely not be permitted to fly near these esteemed monuments and buildings!
What happens if you get caught flying a drone in Hyde Park?
When flying in another part of the world such as the UK, it’s easy to make mistakes. What kinds of consequences should you expect if you accidentally launched your drone in Hyde Park or another of the Royal Parks?
Well, as mentioned earlier, an official at the park will tell you to stop flying. If you leave it at that, pack up your drone, and seek another legal place to use it, then you should be okay. Oh, and be sure not to return to Hyde Park or another Royal Park with the drone.
If you repeat the offense, then the punishments might be steeper. As what happens in many parks, you could possibly face drone confiscation, fines, and even time behind bars for violating the rules.
Parks are usually known for their greenspace, picturesque bodies of water, and appealing views. Hyde Park has all those, but it also has the Old Police House, a real police house.
That’s right, police are stationed within the park, so whether you’re operating a drone or committing another illegal crime on the grounds of Hyde Park, it will not take long for it to be known and for swift action to be taken.
Don’t bother looking for loopholes here. Instead, visit Hyde Park sans drones or find another part of London to fly in.
UK drone regulations to be aware of
Indeed, drones are allowed in London, in specific areas, of course. The Civil Aviation Authority or CAA oversees drone operations in the UK, not the FAA, so you should always follow these CAA rules when flying.
No pilots under 12 are allowed to fly on their own
In the UK, all drone pilots 12 and over can fly solo, but an older adult must supervise any pilots under 12. The adult must be at least 16 years old.
The pilot and the supervisor must have successfully completed the CAA’s Flyer ID test, as that’s required to legally fly a drone in the UK.
Maintain an altitude of 400 feet
Here’s a rule that should seem very familiar to you. Just as is the case in the United States, your drone cannot surpass an altitude of 400 feet across the pond in the UK.
Commercial pilots must have insurance
Did you bring your UAV to the UK for a commercial project? You need more than just the drone but insurance for it as well. That applies to any commercial project and work you’re undertaking in the UK.
You need an Operator ID if your drone has a camera
Besides your Flyer ID, which proves your proficiency in the CAA’s drone rules, you may also need an Operator ID.
An Operator ID is identification for your drone, including a registration number that you affix as a label to the UAV.
If your drone has a camera of any kind, then an Operator ID is required.
Don’t fly closer than 150 meters to residential and industrial areas if your drone exceeds 250 grams
How much does your drone weigh? If you answered 250 grams or heavier, then you cannot fly too close to residential and industrial areas as well as built-up areas and parks. The flight limit is 150 meters or 492.1 feet.
Don’t fly closer than 50 meters to the public
Throughout the UK, you’re prohibited from operating your drone too close to crowds unless the people in the crowds have agreed to participate in your drone operation.
You’re capped at 50 meters or 164 feet.
The exception is for drones weighing under 250 grams. Then you can fly over people, and you can get closer than 50 meters even if the people aren’t participating in your drone project.
Stay at least 5 kilometers from airports
As you spot airports during your UK drone flights, make sure that you don’t stray any closer than 5 kilometers or 16.4 feet from them. Give manned aircraft the right of way.
Maintain a visual line of sight on your drone
At all times when your drone flies gracefully through the UK skies, make sure you can see it. If you have to use binoculars to spot your drone, then it’s outside of your visual line of sight!
Hyde Park in London is one of a series of Royal Parks, all of which are off-limits to drone pilots unless you have special permission.
Since the police are stationed at Hyde Park, it’s not even worth trying to fly here illegally, as you will be caught!
1. Royal Parks (link)