No-fly zone to be enforced over Windsor Castle this month after security review

Ban in force from 27 January, after Grant Shapps decides it is ‘necessary in the public interest’

Andy Gregory
Monday 10 January 2022 00:11
<p>A general view of people on The Long Walk and Windsor Castle</p>

A general view of people on The Long Walk and Windsor Castle

A “no-fly zone” is to be enforced over Windsor Castle by the end of the month as part of a bid to enhance security at the royal residence, which sits less than eight miles from Heathrow Airport.

The Metropolitan Police applied last year for an application for a restricted airspace order, which would prohibit aircrafts from flying within 1.5 nautical miles around the estate and up to 2,500 feet above it.

The measure was sought as part of an ongoing review into security arrangements and not because of any specific threat or intelligence, Scotland Yard said, adding that the measure would “further enhance the security at what is an iconic location and keep the community living nearby safe”.

A memo from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), seen by The Independent, states that transport secretary Grant Shapps “has decided that it is necessary in the public interest to restrict flying” in the vicinity, “having regard for the significance of the security considerations associated with this location”.

The ban will come into effect on 27 January, the CAA said.

Aviation noise from nearby Heathrow is a well-known gripe in the area surrounding Windsor Castle, which the Queen herself referenced in a radio broadcast in 2017.

“I would echo the sentiments of Queen Victoria who, 150 years ago, wrote of this dear lovely garden where all is peace and you only hear the hum of bees, the singing of the birds,” the monarch said of the garden at nearby Frogmore House, in a pre-recorded segment for BBC Radio 4.

“These days there is more noise from the air than in 1867, but Frogmore remains a wonderfully relaxing environment.”

But it appears the decision will give the royals only limited respite, as the new flying restrictions will not apply to any aircraft travelling to or from Heathrow under the control of relevant air traffic authorities, according to the CAA.

Nor will the ban apply to Royal Air Force aircrafts at nearby RAF Northolt, or those used by royal family members or the emergency services.

Having served as a royal residence for nine centuries, Queen Elizabeth II uses the castle as both a private home and as an official residence at which to perform certain formal duties.

While she typically visits the castle at weekends, the Queen also spends a month on the estate at Easter each year, during which time she hosts occasional “dine and sleeps” events for guests, including politicians and public figures.

Mr Shapps’ decision to sign off on the no-fly zone was made public by the CAA on 16 December.

Plans for the no-fly zone is not linked to a security alert on Christmas Day last year, when a 19-year-old man allegedly carrying a crossbow was arrested at the castle. He has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, police said.

Officers are also reviewing footage appearing to show a masked and hooded figure holding a crossbow and saying in a distorted voice that they wanted to “assassinate the Queen” in a “revenge” mission, reportedly citing the Amritsar massacre in 1919 – regarded as one of the worst atrocities carried out by the British empire.

While a review of crossbow laws had already been ordered earlier last year, Home Office officials have been instructed to “incorporate any lessons” from the arrest, The Telegraph reported.

In a statement regarding the application for a no-fly zone, Scotland Yard – which is responsible for policing within “the footprint of” Windsor Castle – said that it was working closely with Thames Valley Police to ensure the castle and the surrounding areas are kept safe and secure.

“As part of our ongoing review of security arrangements at Windsor Castle, and working in partnership with Thames Valley Police, we applied for a restricted airspace order for up to 2,500ft at a radius of 1.5 nautical miles around Windsor Castle,” the Met said.

“This was not brought about in response to any specific threat or intelligence, but was intended to further enhance the security at what is an iconic location and keep the community living nearby safe.”

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