My walk to work every morning takes me along the back side of Buckingham Palace. The other side of the road – Grosvenor Place – is all blocky Regency pomp and big pillared porticos, interrupted by the occasional corporate HQ. The biggest building on the road is 4orty, which was built five years ago to be the European headquarters of Enron. Soon after they finished it I wandered in and had a look round the colossal lobby, a great chilly space dominated by a massive bank of plasma screens showing advertorial company videos. A guard came up and asked me what I was doing. I said I was looking around. He told me to leave.

The Buck House side is even bleaker. There’s nothing to see but a big brown wall, topped by spikes and wire, and beyond it a thickness of trees. People tend not to walk on that side of the road; there are few places to cross and the traffic at Hyde Park Corner is fast. The deserted pavement and the wall’s long shadow give the palace a dour, sinister air. The gardens of Buckingham Palace I’m sure are well tended, but on several mornings I’ve found myself wandering if between the trees and the wall is a strip that no light reaches, and what curiosities grow and rot in that royal loam.