While admitting that it is not the world’s worst problem, Dalrymple addresses the kitchiness of modern day palaces:
But the problem is not confined to tyrants—if only it were. Tyrants are a species in decline, though it is too early to predict their total extinction. Not only are they less numerous, but they are less bizarre. If we must have tyrants, give me a colorful one at least who will inspire a magic-realist novel or two. If tyranny were the problem, our architecture would be the most beautiful the world has seen. But we must acknowledge that we have moved decisively from the age of grand tyranny to that of petty tyranny, and the problem does not lie with tyrants in the old sense of the word.
Our problem lies elsewhere: Our architects have no ability and our patrons have no taste. The disappearance of taste from the population is an interesting phenomenon, and one that has been little studied (partly because the loss of taste means that it is not even seen as a problem by those who might study it).