It is hardly the most neighbourly of things to do but the inhabitants of Kensington Palace Gardens, one of the world's most expensive streets, have just discovered the price of living next door to the royal residence.
Earlier this week, a team of gardeners with shovels and mechanical diggers began planting a 250-metre long solid wall of conifers along the western boundary of the palace grounds in an effort to screen the buildings and gardens from prying eyes in the neighbouring street.
Long nicknamed Billionaires' Row, Kensington Palace Gardens' residents include Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Tamara Ecclestone – the daughter of former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone – steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, the Sultan of Brunei, Saudi royals, and the embassies of Russia and several other nations.
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From time to time adjustments are made to the landscaping and gardens, including hedging
Kensington Palace spokesman
William, 34, and Kate, 35, are preparing to make their 22-room apartment at Kensington Palace their family's main residence and send their children Prince George, three, and 19-month Princess Charlotte to school in London when the Duke stops flying East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopters in the summer and becomes a full-time working royal.
The royal couple used a similar screen of trees and bushes to make their 10-bedroom country mansion, Anmer Hall on the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk, more secluded before they moved in two years ago.
They paid then but this time the taxpayer is footing the bill on top of the £4.5 million it cost the public for their apartment to be renovated before they moved in in 2013.
William and Kate will be moving to Kensington Palace soon and the staff are planting a hedge
Royal officials refused to say how much the work this time is costing the taxpayer, though it is understood to be signficantly less than the £250,000 they would have to declare for any property project in their annual accounts for the Sovereign Grant.
A palace spokesman would only say that such aspects of royal residences were kept under constant review. "From time to time adjustments are made to the landscaping and gardens, including hedging," the spokesman said.
A royal source also stressed that Kensington Palace was home not just to the Cambridges and their children but to seven other royals – Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
The hedge is meant to boost privacy for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Some sources have also suggested that Princess Eugenie will move into a cottage in the palace later this year but that is yet to be confirmed officially.
And if Prince Harry's burgeoning relationship with actress Meghan Markle continues she is expected to be a frequent visitor to the Palace.
Officials suggested that a mix of privacy and security considerations had prompted the work to be done.
But it is not considered strictly necessary for the security of the Cambridges or anyone else, as the Metropolitan Police are not paying for it.
William, however, is determined to protect the privacy of his young family.
At Anmer Hall, he persuaded the Government to bring in a no-fly zone over the mansion in October 2015.
All aircraft – including drones – were banned from flying within 1.5 miles of Anmer Hall.
The Department for Transport, which agreed to the request, said it was required '"in view of the need for security for the Royal Family".
Regulations issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated no aircraft were to fly below 2,000ft within the restricted airspace.
Hedges do not generally need planning permission so the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is not involved but if neighbours complain about the height of the hedge eventually they can the council to obtain an anti-social behavioour order (ASBO) to force it to be cut.
Meghan Markle could also be a frequent visitor to the Palace
It is not clear whose prying eyes in Kensington are the chief concern. Kensington Palace Gardens, which connects Notting Hill Gate to the north and Kensington High Street to the south, is a private road 100 yards west of Kensington Palace.
It has traffic access limited to residents, who are mainly billionaires and foreign ambassadors living in palatial foreign embassies.
It is nicknamed Billionaires' Row with properties valued upwards of £100 million.
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At the north and south end of the street, traffic is stopped and identities are checked at police checkpoints.
Mechanical bollards rise and fall between each car passing the checkpoints making it impossible to gain access without permission.
The street is also home to the colossal embassies of Israel, Lebanon, the Czech Republic and Nepal.
It also houses the residences of the French ambassador and the Indian high commissioner.