The Royal Parks

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The Royal Parks
Region served
United Kingdom
Chief Executive
Andrew Scattergood
Herd of fallow deer in Bushy Park
View towards Horse Guards Parade in St. James's Park
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park

The Royal Parks make up land that was originally used for the recreation, mostly hunting, by the royal family.[1] They are part of the hereditary possessions of The Crown, now managed by The Royal Parks,[2] a charity which manages eight royal parks and certain other areas of parkland in London. The Royal Parks charity was created as a company limited by guarantee in March 2017 and officially launched in July 2017. Its chief executive is Andrew Scattergood.

The charity took over the main responsibilities of management from the Royal Parks Agency – a former executive agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – and from the Royal Parks Foundation, which was a separate charity.


With increasing urbanisation of London, some royal hunting or tenant lands were preserved as freely accessible open space and became public parks with the introduction of the Crown Lands Act 1851. There are today eight parks formally described by this name and they cover almost 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land in Greater London.

The parks were originally used as hunting grounds for the royal family. In the 1500s, King Henry VIII extended the Palace of Whitehall into what's now St. James's Park and The Green Park.

Over the years, there has been a gradual transition towards public accessibility for these areas. Hyde Park was opened to the public in 1673 by King Charles I.

Presently, there are eight parks officially designated by this name, covering nearly 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land in Greater London.

In central London, five Royal Parks are situated, namely, The Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, The Green Park, and St James's Park.

The Royal Parks charity manages 5,000 acres of historic parkland in London, which includes Brompton Cemetery and Victoria Tower Gardens. The responsibilities involve the preservation of 170,000 trees, 21 lakes and ponds, 15 miles of riverbed, and a population of over 1,000 wild deer.


Aerial view of Hyde Park

The Royal Parks charity follows a set vision, purpose and its values.

  • Vision: To provide free access to beautiful, natural and historic parks, which improve the quality of life, health and wellbeing — which is particularly important in a city environment.
  • Purpose: The Royal Parks is the charity which manages, protects and improves and parks in an exemplary and sustainable manner so that everyone, now and in the future, has the opportunity to enjoy the natural and historic environments.
  • Values: The Royal Parks charity is responsible, excellent, inclusive, open and respectful.

The charity runs programmes of activities and events to encourage outdoor recreation and public access to these areas. It also allows third parties to run such activities within the grounds to further these objectives, but commercial activity is tightly controlled.

The Royal Parks charity regulates non-personal filming, audio recording, and photography through licences. It issues news permits for media coverage of breaking news in the parks, with holders required to comply with specific legislation:

  • The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997[11]
  • Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces (Amendment) Regulations 2004[12]

As well as the eight royal parks in its care, the charity also manages Brompton Cemetery and Victoria Tower Gardens.

The parks are owned by the Crown, with responsibility for them resting with the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The Royal Parks charity manages the parks on behalf of the government.


In 2010, the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, proposed the devolution of control over the Royal Parks to the Greater London Authority.[13] The government put forward proposals for this transfer later in the same year.[14] While The Royal Parks expressed support for the plan, it was not ultimately implemented.[15]

The parks were managed by the Royal Parks Agency (an executive agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) until the agency joined with charity the Royal Parks Foundation to form a new charity – The Royal Parks – launched in July 2017. The parks are policed by the Royal Parks Operational Command Unit of the Metropolitan Police (the English section of the previous force policing the parks, the Royal Parks Constabulary, has been abolished).

Some funding for The Royal Parks comes from a central government grant (20%) and its own charitable fundraising (80%). The Royal Parks charity generates the majority of its income from commercial activities such as catering and staging public events, as well as through grants and individual donations.

The day-to-day management of each park and area is managed by a Park Manager, who receives support from a team of staff and contractors. Their responsibilities include overseeing the preservation of natural landscapes and maintaining heritage sites, roads, and other structures within and around the parks.

Charitable objectives[edit]

The Royal Parks' charitable objects set out the main purpose of the charity and what it aims to achieve. They are:

  • To protect, conserve, maintain and care for the Royal Parks, including their natural and designed landscapes and built environment, to a high standard consistent with their historical, horticultural, environmental and architectural importance;
  • To promote the use and enjoyment of the Royal Parks for public recreation, health and wellbeing, including through the provision of sporting and cultural activities and events which effectively advance the objects;
  • To maintain and develop the biodiversity of the Royal Parks, including the protection of their wildlife and natural environment, together with promoting sustainability in the management and use of the Royal Parks;
  • To support the advancement of education by promoting public understanding of the history, culture, heritage and natural environment of the Royal Parks and (by way of comparison) elsewhere; and,
  • To promote national heritage including by hosting and facilitating ceremonies of state or of national importance within and in the vicinity of the Royal Parks.


The Royal Parks declared a climate emergency in 2020 with the charity. The parks are well protected to allow the natural environment to grow, and they are considered “a huge resource of natural capital that we must conserve and enhance”, causing the parks to be branded the “lungs of London”.[11][12]

The charity launched the Help Nature Thrive program in 2022 with the aim of enhancing sustainability and biodiversity within the capital.[16] All parks adhere to a sustainable management plan, implementing various initiatives to safeguard the survival of natural habitats.[17]

The Royal Parks charity is committed to maintaining the gardens in order to preserve the natural habitats for local wildlife. More recent plans have included a £5 million grant to transform Greenwich Park and a transformation of a former private plant nursery into a public memorial garden in The Regent’s Park.[18][19]

In previous years, the charity has supported restoration projects for both Bushy Park and Richmond Park, addressing long-term concerns to protect the natural habitats in the face of climate change.[20][21]

The Royal Parks board[edit]

The Royal Parks charity is led by a board of trustees, which decides how the charity is run, how it spends its money and ensures what it does is for the benefit of the parks and their visitors. The trustees are led by a chairman and are appointed for their skills and experience. Alongside some ex-officio roles, others are appointed by the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Greater London Authority (GLA). They are non-executive and unpaid.

The members of The Royal Parks charity's board are:

  • Loyd Grossman CBE (Chairman)
  • Lady Aurora Antrim
  • Heather Blackman
  • Harris Bokhari OBE
  • Richard Hamilton
  • Bronwyn Hill CBE
  • Councillor Adam Hug
  • Jane Hurst
  • Wesley Kerr OBE
  • Councillor Anthony Okereke
  • Councillor Gareth Roberts
  • Lt. Col. Michael Vernon

The Royal Parks executive management team[edit]

The executive management team is responsible for the daily operations of The Royal Parks charity, and under the leadership of the chief executive, they propose the organization's policies and strategies to the board of trustees. Additionally, the team manages a skilled and dedicated workforce, consisting of both staff and volunteers, who are committed to providing free open spaces in London. As of November 2023, the team members are:

  • Andrew Scattergood – Chief Executive
  • Alan Buchanan – General Counsel and Company Secretary
  • Julia Cavanagh – Chief Financial Officer
  • Ali Jeremy – Director of Communications, Marketing and Engagement
  • Bidisha Kondal – Director of Corporate Services
  • Liz Mullins – Commercial Director
  • Darren Woodward – Director of Estates and Projects
  • Darren Share – Director of Parks

Legal position[edit]

The Royal Parks are owned by the Monarch in right of the Crown; however, under the Crown Lands Act 1851, statutory responsibility for the management and upkeep rests with the government. From 1993 until 2017, The Royal Parks Agency managed the parks on behalf of the Secretary of State.

In 2017, The Royal Parks Charity was created to manage the parks under a contract with the government. Appointments to the charity’s Board are made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, as well as the Mayor of London.

The parks are open to everyone, but those using the parks are expected to adhere to regulations issued under the Parks Regulations Acts 1872 – 1926. These regulations are deemed necessary for the proper management, maintenance, and protection of the estate. The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 (as subsequently amended) remain extant.[22]

Discrimination/pay dispute over outsourced park attendants[edit]

Since 2014, Vinci Facilities has been contracted to maintain the Royal Parks, employing as cleaners/attendants mainly African migrants. Vinci had originally tendered separate bids cost for minimum wage staff and Living Wage staff – and its minimum wage bid was accepted, meaning that the approximately 50 cleaners/attendants were earning £8.21 an hour by 2019. Then, with several joining UVW union in pursuit of the London Living Wage (£10.75) and going on strike in October 2019 with further strikes planned, the Royal Parks board agreed to fulfill their wage demands in December 2019, backdated to November 1st.[23]

However, during the tendering process, Vinci and Royal Parks had also determined purely statutory entitlements in respect of overtime, on-call allowance, sick pay, annual leave, pensions, redundancy pay and maternity pay – and these inequalities with Royal Parks employees persisted. The two employers had allegedly repeatedly reviewed the general terms of Vinci's staff between 2014 and 2019, and Royal Parks had never opted to improve any part of their contracts.

It was announced in April 2020 that the barrister Changez Khan and 15 claimants would bring a racial discrimination "landmark test case" against the Royal Parks charity. Khan claims that "the difference in pay until December last year and ongoing difference in other conditions have a 'disparate impact' on black and ethnic minority workers, as they are more likely to be outsourced agency workers".

On appeal, The Royal Parks was found not guilty.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thurston, Hazel. Royal Parks for the People: London's Ten. UK and USA: David and Charles. Vancouver: Douglas, David and Charles. 1974. ISBN 0-7153-6454-5. Includes listing of the Parks with black-and-white photographic plates.
  2. ^ "THE ROYAL PARKS LIMITED – Overview (free company information from Companies House)".
  3. ^ "Richmond Park | The Royal Parks". 16 August 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  4. ^ "Bushy Park | The Royal Parks". 16 August 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  5. ^ "The Regent's Park & Primrose Hill | The Royal Parks". Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  6. ^ "Hyde Park | The Royal Parks". 11 September 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  7. ^ "Kensington Gardens | The Royal Parks". 21 August 2023. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  8. ^ "Greenwich Park | The Royal Parks". Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  9. ^ "St. James's Park | The Royal Parks". Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  10. ^ "The Green Park | The Royal Parks". Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  11. ^ a b "The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  12. ^ a b "Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces (Amendment) Regulations 2004". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  13. ^ "Mayor's Proposals for Devolution". Archived from the original on 26 November 2010.
  14. ^ "Responsibility for London's Royal Parks to pass to London's Mayor". 8 February 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  15. ^ "Royal Parks sees merger with the mayor's office as opportunity to boost sponsorship".
  16. ^ "Project launched to make parks more sustainable and boost biodiversity". Ham & High. 17 June 2022. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  17. ^ "Management plans | The Royal Parks". Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  18. ^ "'Greenwich Park Revealed': £5m grant set to transform iconic London site". News Shopper. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  19. ^ Salisbury, Josh (21 December 2023). "Plans for memorial garden to late Queen Elizabeth unveiled for Regent's Park". Evening Standard. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  20. ^ "Discussions begin on Bushy Park restoration". Richmond and Twickenham Times. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  21. ^ "Richmond Park Restoration". South East Rivers Trust. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  22. ^ "About The Royal Parks | The Royal Parks". Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  23. ^ Southworth, Phoebe (23 April 2020). "Royal Parks embroiled in £750,000 race discrimination legal battle". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 July 2020.

External links[edit]