The world's most famous cricket umpire, with honorary doctorates from the universities of SheffieldHallam and Leeds, Harold 'Dickie' Bird MBE says firmly: 'I am a royalist.'And his favourite building? One of the most familiar landmarks in the world - Buckingham Palace (pictured).
Originally built by William Winde for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, in 1705, it was bought for use as a royal residence by George III in 1762 for £28,000, which the king paid in four instalments. Because of the illness that dogged George III's last years, the house fell into disrepair, and the restoration work required by George IV was entrusted to John Nash. What the public sees now, though, is Sir Aston Webb's east facade of 1913 - 'a tasteful but insipid performance in a French idiom', is Pevsner's verdict.
Bird says the building is important to him because he has had 'lots of invitations to the Palace and lunch with the Queen.'
He adds: 'They do a wonderful job.'
Given Bird's long association with cricket, it comes as no surprise that his other favourite building is Lord's Cricket Ground.
Thomas Lord was an 18th-century Yorkshireman who founded the MCC, whose first headquarters was in Dorset Square.The present Lord's was opened in 1814 but a fire in 1825 destroyed the pavilion. Undaunted, the members rebuilt it; today, with Michael Hopkins'Mound Stand and Future Systems'NatWest media centre, Lord's continues to expand.