Prince William has posed for a special edition of The Big Issue to mark his 40th birthday – and revealed how he was inspired by his late mother, Princess Diana, ‘who in her own inimitable style, was determined to shine a light on the overlooked, misunderstood problem’ of homelessness.
The Duke of Cambridge wrote exclusively for the magazine to explain why he wanted to talk about the problem of homelessness around his milestone, which he celebrates tomorrow, after going undercover as a Big Issue seller on the streets of London earlier this month.
William, father to Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, recalled how his interest in the problem started aged 11, when he first visited a homeless shelter with his mother, the Princess of Wales.
He added that Diana, ‘in her own inimitable style, was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem’.
The magazine, sold by people in order to lift themselves out of poverty, also includes an interview between William and Dave Martin, 60, the Big Issue vendor he joined to sell the magazine.
Prince William has posed for a special edition of The Big Issue to mark his 40th birthday – and recalled how his late mother, Princess Diana, ‘in her own inimitable style, was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem’.
Vitalijus Zuikauskas poses for a picture with Prince William, who was spotted selling The Big Issue newspaper in London, on June 8, 2022
William wrote: ‘I was 11 when I first visited a homeless shelter with my mother, who in her own inimitable style was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem.
‘In the 30-odd years since, I’ve seen countless projects in this space grow from strength to strength, including charities of which I have had the honour of being Patron.
‘New initiatives have been launched up and down the country – some have worked, some have not. But The Big Issue, perhaps now the most immediately recognisable of these organisations, has undeniably had an impact.
He continued: ‘I wanted to experience the other side and see what it was like to be a Big Issue vendor. My time was truly eye opening. I was lucky to join Dave on a warm, sunny day in June. People recognised a familiar face and were happy to give me the time of day. But that isn’t the case for the vast majority of Big Issue vendors…
‘And while I may seem like one of the most unlikely advocates for this cause, I have always believed in using my platform to help tell those stories and to bring attention and action to those who are struggling. I plan to do that now I’m turning 40, even more than I have in the past.
‘So, for my part, I commit to continue doing what I can to shine a spotlight on this solvable issue not just today, but in the months and years to come.
‘And in the years ahead, I hope to bring George, Charlotte and Louis to see the fantastic organisations doing inspiring work to support those most in need – just as my mother did for me.’
Prince William on his first visit to the homeless shelter The Passage with his mother Diana and brother Harry in 1993
The Duke of Cambridge (pictured right) selling the Big Issue in London with Big Issue vendor Dave Martin (pictured centre)
The Duke of Cambridge wrote exclusively for the magazine to explain why he wanted to talk about the problem of homelessness around his milestone, which he celebrates tomorrow, after going undercover as a Big Issue seller on the streets of London earlier this month (pictured)
The magazine, sold by people in order to lift themselves out of poverty, also includes an interview between William and Dave Martin, 60, the Big Issue vendor he joined to sell the magazine (pictured)
Only a few days after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Duke of Cambridge sold the magazine on Rochester Row, close to Victoria in London with Dave Martin, Big Issue vendor.
Together that afternoon they sold 32 copies. They then visited The Passage, a homelessness charity nearby that supports people who are street homeless or at risk of homelessness, of which the Duke became a Patron in 2019.
It was to The Passage that Princess Diana brought her young sons to give them an insight into the challenges faced by people on the margins.
The Duke and Dave then interviewed each other about their Big Issue selling experience, homelessness, how the Jubilee brought the country together and much more. The conversation is available to read in The Big Issue magazine and website.
When William asked Dave what The Big Issue had done for him, he said: ‘It got me off the street. Gave me respect. I was begging at the time. Another vendor said I could be doing something a lot better and took me along to the Big Issue office.’
The Duke added: ‘People who are homeless can’t rebuild their life without a number of things. And one of those things is respect and self-respect. And that’s what The Big Issue gives you, along with a means to earn an income.’
December 2009: Then aged 27, William spent a night sleeping rough to understand the plight of the homeless at Christmas
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: ‘I met with Prince William and told him how I myself had been homeless and got out of grief by being imprisoned and then went on to start The Big Issue.
‘We need to do everything we can to get the millions of people in the UK out of poverty for good. We need more emphasis on prevention and cure, not just all the support and effort going into emergency relief.
‘The scale of interest in William selling The Big Issue has been enormous. And it puts our vendors and their sterling work in the public eye again. Anyone can sell The Big Issue, even a Prince!’
Mick Clarke, CEO of The Passage, said: ‘We were delighted to host our Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, for this special interview with Dave and The Big Issue.
‘The Duke has visited The Passage on many occasions over the years to meet our clients and raise awareness and support for people affected by homelessness. We were especially pleased to welcome Dave as a former Passage client and very proud to see how he has moved on in life.
‘As The Duke mentions in the interview, the “Everyone In” programme showed that when society works together, we can truly make progress towards ending street homelessness – which simply should not exist in 21st century Britain. The Passage stands alongside The Duke, The Big Issue and many others who are working hard in the fight to end homelessness.’
This special edition of The Big Issue magazine is available to buy from vendors like Dave across the UK. Vendors buy magazines for £1.50 and sell them for £3, keeping the proceeds.
There are around 1,300 men and women working their way out of poverty by selling The Big Issue.
Visit www.bigissue.com to find your local Big Issue seller. If you can’t get to a local vendor, subscriptions are available at www.bigissue.com/subscribe to help continue the work of the organisation.
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