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Can You Fly a Drone in Windsor?

Windsor is a Royal Borough in the UK on the River Thames near London.

Here, you can find the State Apartments, Windsor Castle, and St. George’s Chapel, among other sites.

If you’re traveling abroad soon, can you plan to bring your drone to Windsor and fly there?

You can fly a drone in Windsor, but not near London Heathrow Airport, Windsor Castle, Frogmore Cottage, and St. George’s Chapel. If you use a drone here, do so in accordance with the Civil Aviation Authority’s rules.

This guide will take you through all the pertinent attractions in Windsor and explain where you can and can’t use a drone, so please, don’t miss it!

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Can you fly a drone in Windsor? A full breakdown

In the UK, the CAA determines where drone access is allowed. According to their rules, you can use a drone throughout the UK, including Windsor.

However, no-fly zones and other restrictions in this town can make your aspirations of using a drone awfully difficult.

Let’s go over the biggest attractions and buildings in the area and review whether you can operate near or over them.

Can you fly a drone near London Heathrow Airport?

Windsor is only 12 miles from London Heathrow Airport. The airport isn’t in the town itself, but regardless, you must keep a five-mile berth from all airports when flying a drone.

Fortunately, the town is 29 miles from London Luton Airport, 44 miles from London Gatwick Airport, and 49 miles from Southampton Airport, so those airports needn’t be on your radar unless you’re traveling elsewhere through the UK.

Can you fly a drone near Windsor Castle?

Windsor Castle is more than a gorgeous, antique piece of architecture. The British Royal Family visits there often.

This Engadget article mentions that a drone pilot used their UAV within 50 meters or 164 feet of Windsor Castle while Queen Elizabeth was on the grounds, violating CAA rules.

The Metropolitan Police Service intervened, explained the rules, and possibly asked the pilot to delete any footage they took on their drone out of respect for the Queen.

However, this incident transpired in 2015. Years later, in late 2021, an armed man got into Windsor Castle on Christmas. At the time, threats popped up online about killing the Queen, says The Mirror.

After that, the Royal Family decided to take no chances and made Windsor Castle a no-fly zone.

You cannot operate within 1.5 miles or higher than 2,500 feet according to the Restricted Airspace Order.

Can you fly a drone near Frogmore Cottage?

Frogmore Cottage was constructed in 1801 and is today a Grade II home. Part of the Crown estate, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reside there.

You cannot operate a drone over or near the property. 

Can you fly a drone near King Edward VII Hospital?

King Edward VII Hospital isn’t exactly a place you’ll want to visit on your UK travels, but it is in Windsor, so we wanted to mention it anyway.

Hospitals are usually considered sensitive infrastructure, and thus pilots cannot fly there.

King Edward VII Hospital has a specific ban, as the hospital is classified as a no-fly zone to protect the security, safety, and confidentiality of the hospital and its staff and patients. 

Can you fly a drone near LEGOLAND Windsor Resort?

One of the most fun parts of visiting Windsor is going to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.

This theme park with Lego attractions opened in 1996 and brought in 2.43 million visitors in 2019. No other theme park in the UK has as many attendees as this one.

LEGOLAND Windsor Resort prohibits drones from entry into the park. It’s far too dangerous for a UAV to operate in a theme park.

The park will have dense crowds and closely-packed attractions, not to mention the rides themselves, which can move unpredictably and damage your drone.

You could also hit your drone into a rider, leading to massive injuries.

Can you fly a drone near St. George’s Chapel?

With its Perpendicular Gothic style, St. George’s Chapel is a must-see for anyone visiting Windsor. Created in the 14th century and open to tours, the chapel often impresses with its sheer size and majesty.

Since St. George’s Chapel is a part of Windsor Castle, you absolutely cannot bring your drone on the grounds.

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What happens if you get caught flying a drone illegally around Windsor?

Although earlier, we discussed the drone pilot who got caught flying their drone at Windsor Castle when the Queen was present and received only a verbal warning, you’ll also remember that that incident happened years ago.

Drone usage in and around Windsor (including Windsor Castle) is taken much more seriously today, and the punishments match the crime.

You shouldn’t expect a warning if you use your drone illegally in Windsor. Instead, you will likely receive a fine and potentially have your drone taken too.

Although England is an English-speaking country, it’s still never a great idea to get yourself embroiled in legal drama in a country you don’t live in. They might have differing laws from what you’re used to.

Plus, if you have to pay a fine or face jail time, this can impede your ability to go home.

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Flying elsewhere in the UK? Follow these drone laws

Although much of Windsor is off-limits to drone pilots, the entire town isn’t. Whether you’ve found a safe nook for flight in Windsor or visiting a different part of the UK, stay abreast of these CAA drone laws.

Fly under 400 feet

To limit your chances of encountering other aircraft, the CAA requires all drone pilots to fly at no higher than 400 feet or 120 meters. Keep in mind that in some parts of England, such as Windsor Castle, the limit is 164 feet.

Keep your eyes peeled for drone law signs posted around the town to ascertain the appropriate height for drone use.

Do not fly more than 50 meters from crowds

To maintain the privacy and safety of others, CAA prevents pilots from flying closer than 50 meters to crowds. Even if people are on boats, trains, lorries, or in cars, you still cannot get within 50 meters of them.

That’s 50 meters of horizontal distance, by the way. However, the distance extends upward to create an invisible cylinder that comprises the no-fly zone.

The only exceptions apply to people you know, as you can fly closer to them if they consent to your drone usage. If your drone weighs under 250 grams, you can also fly closer.

You must also avoid crowded areas with your drone. That means foregoing drone usage near sports arenas, shopping areas, and busy parks and beaches.

You must also keep a distance during large festivals, marches, concerts, political or religious gatherings, or other sizable events.

Do not fly closer than 120 meters of cliffs or mountains

Okay, so you can’t fly 400 feet from the ground, but what about on uneven surfaces, including cliffs, mountains, and hills?

You still cannot use your drone more than 400 feet or 120 meters from whatever the closest point to the ground is.

Do not use your drone at certain sites

Industrial, commercial, recreational, and residential sites do not allow drones to fly closer than 150 meters.

An industrial site includes a transport hub or factory, a commercial site refers to business parks or shopping centers, a recreational site includes a theme park or sports facility, and residential sites are schools, villages, housing estates, and residential building clusters.

Check for restricted airspace before your flight

The CAA mandates that pilots always look for hazards and restrictions and abide by the changes in rules as necessary.

For example, government buildings, royal palaces, military ranges, and prisons will always restrict drones, but temporary bans can also apply to places where you can usually operate.

This will usually occur because of a festival, airshow, event, or political conference.

Emergency incidents are another reason for temporary flight restrictions.

These restrictions prevent you from interfering with emergency operations, which could slow down first responders and even cost lives in the most serious cases.

Byelaws can impede drone flights, so be aware of them and check for any before launching. 

Obtain authorization if necessary

You do not need authorization if you fly your drone in the Open A1 or A3 category. However, drone flights outside of the code do.

The authorization will permit you to fly over crowds, higher than 400 feet, or near industrial, commercial, recreational, or residential areas.

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Windsor is a fantastic town to visit to appreciate some of England’s most famed architecture, but it’s largely no place for a drone.

You’re forbidden from flying over or near Windsor Castle, LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, St. George’s Chapel, and Frogmore Cottage.

If you do find an allowable place to launch your drone, follow CAA rules!